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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th February 2022

  • IASbaba
  • February 24, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd. (SPMCIL)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy

Context: The Delhi headquarters of the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd. (SPMCIL) has been declared a “prohibited place” under the Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 by the Union Home Ministry “to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons”.

Key takeaways 

  • The Security Printing & Minting Corporation of India Ltd. (SPMCIL) is a government printing and minting agency.
  • It is under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Finance.
  • It was incorporated in 2006 with its registered office at New Delhi.
  • Role: It is engaged in the manufacture and production of:
    • currency and bank notes
    • security paper
    • non-judicial stamp papers, postal stamps
    • stationery
    • passport and visa stickers, security inks, circulation, commemorative coins and others.
  • The nine production units of the SPMCIL, where banknotes and other government papers are manufactured, are already prohibited places.
    • The nine production units are: four India Government Mints, two Currency Note Presses, two Security Printing Presses and one Security Paper Mill located in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Noida, Nashik, Dewas and Narmadapuram.

News Source: TH


Cobra Warrior

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

Context: For the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will deploy the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas for multilateral air exercise ‘Cobra Warrior’ at Waddington, U.K. 

  • Five Tejas aircraft will fly to the U.K.

Key takeaways 

  • The multilateral air exercise ‘Cobra Warrior’ will also see the participation of Air Forces of Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and the U.S.
  • The exercise is aimed at providing operational exposure and sharing best practices amongst the participating Air Forces, thereby enhancing combat capability and forging bonds of friendship. 
  • The exercise is scheduled from March 6 to 27.

Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas

  • LCA Tejas is a single-engine multirole light combat aircraft.
  • It replaced the aging Mig 21 fighter planes.
  • It is the second supersonic fighter jet that was developed by HAL (the first one being HAL HF-24 Marut).
  • Bodies involved: Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the autonomous society of DRDO is the design agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as the manufacturer
  • It is the lightest and smallest multirole supersonic fighter aircraft in its class.
  • It can attend the maximum speed of Mach 1.8. 
  • It is designed to carry a range of air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided and standoff weaponry.
  • It is a single pilot aircraft that has a maximum takeoff weight of 13,300 kg. 
  • It has a general range of 850 km and a combat range of 500 km.

News Source: TH


Angadias

Part of: Prelims and GS-I Society and GS-III Economy

Context: An FIR has been registered against three Mumbai Police officials for allegedly threatening Angadias.

What is Angadia system?

  • The Angadia system is a century-old parallel banking system in the country where traders send cash generally from one state to another through a person called Angadia that stands for courier.
  • It is by and large used in the jewellery business with Mumbai – Surat being the most popular route as they are two ends of the diamond trade.
  • The cash involved is huge and it is the responsibility of the Angadia to transfer cash from one state to another for which they charge a nominal fee. 
    • Generally, it is the Gujarati, Marwari and Malbari community that are involved in the business.
  • The Angadia system works completely on trust.

Is the system legal?

  • While the Angadia system per se is legal, there hangs a cloud over the activity as it is suspected that a lot of times it is used to transfer unaccounted money.
  • There have been suspicions that it is also used for transfer of black money like the hawala transaction which is generally used across countries.

News Source: IE


9,000-year-old shrine found in Jordan

Part of: Prelims and GS-I Culture

Context: A team of Jordanian and French archaeologists have found a roughly 9,000-year-old shrine at a remote Neolithic site in Jordan’s eastern desert. 

Key takeaways 

  • The ritual complex was found in a Neolithic campsite near large structures known as “desert kites,” or mass traps that are believed to have been used to confine wild gazelles for slaughter.
  • Such traps consist of two or more long stone walls converging toward an enclosure and are found scattered across the deserts of the West Asia. 
  • The site is unique because of its preservation state.
  • Within the shrine were two carved standing stones bearing anthropomorphic (having human characteristics) figures.

Neolithic Age

  • The Neolithic Age, which means New Stone Age, was the last and third part of the Stone Age. 
  • In India, it spanned from around 7,000 B.C. to 1,000 B.C.
  • The Neolithic Age is mainly characterized by the development of settled agriculture and the use of tools and weapons made of polished stones. 
  • The major crops grown during this period were ragi, horse gram, cotton, rice, wheat, and barley. 
  • Pottery first appeared in this age.

News Source: TH


(PIB)


Winner of Airthings Masters, an online rapid chess competition:

R Praggnanandhaa; won against the noted champion Magnus Carlsen

Gati Shakti

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-3: Infrastructure & Economy

A Rs. 100 lakh-crore project for developing ‘holistic infrastructure’ – Will encompass the seven engines for multi-modal connectivity for the states with speedier implementation of development projects through technology to facilitate faster movement of people and goods through Rs 20,000 crore financed by the government to speed up this project

  • To reduce the logistics cost – a transformative approach, driven by roads, railways, ports, airports, mass transport, waterways and logistics infrastructure. All seven engines will pull the economy forward in unison
  • Unshackle bureaucratic entanglements and end inter-ministerial silos that delay infrastructure projects and drive up costs
  • Sets sectoral targets to be completed by 2024-25 in areas such as expanding national highways and increasing cargo capacity by the railway and shipping ministries

Significance: Currently, the logistics cost in India is about 13% of the GDP whereas in other developed countries it is to the extent of 8%. Government is committed to reduce the cost of logistics to ensure 

  • Competitiveness of our manufacturing sector, 
  • Better realisation of prices to farmers 
  • Availability of goods at cheaper prices to consumers

News Source: PIB


MISCELLANEOUS

The ‘Heritage City’ of Chandigarh

  • Founded in 1953
  • Planned by famous Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier
  • Stands out for its immaculate urban planning and design
  • Certified as 1-Star Garbage Free
  • Pledged to achieve ‘Lakshya Zero Dumpsites’ within the Mission period and has undertaken the challenge of remediating the 7.7 lakh (MT) of legacy waste lying across 8 acres of land as part of the Daddumajra dumpsite.

(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

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

Draft India Data Accessibility & Use Policy, 2022 

Context: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) on February 21, 2022 released a policy proposal titled as, “Draft India Data Accessibility & Use Policy, 2022”. 

  • The generation of citizen data is slated to increase exponentially in the next decade and become a cornerstone of India’s $5 trillion-dollar digital economy. 

Why has the Draft Data Accessibility Policy been proposed?

  • The policy aims to, “radically transform India’s ability to harness public sector data”. 
  • National Economic Survey, 2019 had noted that the private sector has the potential to reap massive dividends from Government data and it is only fair to charge them for its use. It aims to harness the economic value of the generated data. 
  • A background note outlines existing bottlenecks in data sharing and use which includes 
    • The absence of a body for policy monitoring and enforcement of data sharing efforts
    • Absence of technical tools and standards for data sharing
    • Identification of high value datasets and licensing and valuation frameworks. 
  • It indicates a way forward to unlock the high value of data across the economy, congruent and robust governance strategy, making Government data interoperable and instilling data skills and culture. 

How does the Draft Data Accessibility Policy aim to achieve its goals? 

  • The policy will be applicable to all data and information created, generated, collected and/or archived by the Central Government. 
  • It would also allow State governments to adopt its provisions. 
  • Its operationalisation will be achieved through the establishment of a India Data Office (IDO) under MEITY for overall management, with each government entity designating a Chief Data Officer. 
  • In addition to it, a India Data Council will be formed as a consultative body for tasks that include finalisation of standards. 
    • It is not indicated whether the India Data Council will have non-governmental participation from industry, civil society or technologists. 
  • The policy strategy is to make Government data open by default and then maintain a negative list of datasets which cannot be shared. 
    • Definition of more sensitive categories which should have restricted access is left to the independent government ministries. 
  • In addition to this, existing data sets will be enriched or processed to attain greater value and termed as high-value datasets. 
  • Government datasets including high-value datasets will be shared freely within government departments and also licensed to the private sector. 
  • As a measure of privacy protection, there is a recommendation for anonymisation and privacy preservation. 

What are the privacy issues with the Draft Data Accessibility Policy? 

  • India does not have a data protection law that can provide accountability and remedy for privacy violations such as coercive and excessive data collection or data breaches. 
  • Here, inter-departmental data sharing poses concerns related to privacy since the open government data portal which contains data from all departments may result in the creation of 360 degree profiles and enable state-sponsored mass surveillance. 
  • Even though the policy considers anonymisation as a desired goal there is a lack of legal accountability and independent regulatory oversight. 
  • There is also a failure to consider scientific analysis and the availability of automated tools for the re-identification of anonymous data. 
  • This becomes important given the existing financial incentives of licensing to the private sector, where the Government is acting as a data broker
  • Here the commercial value of the data increases with greater amounts of personal data. 
  • The absence of an anchoring legislation further leads to the policy not being able to fulfill the threshold of legality for state intervention into privacy which was put in place by the Supreme Court of India in its landmark right to privacy decision. 

Are there any other issues with the policy? 

  • There are three additional issues with the policy document that merit consideration. 
  • While adopting the language of open data it strays from its core principle of providing transparency of the Government towards its citizens. There is only one mention of transparency and little to no mention of how such data sharing will help ensure demands for accountability and redress. 
  • The second issue is that the policy bypasses parliament as it contemplates large scale data sharing and enrichment that will be borne from public funds. 
  • Further, the constitution of offices, prescription of standards that may be applicable not only to the Central government, but even State governments and schemes administered by them require legislative deliberation. 
  • This brings us to the third and final issue of federalism. The policy, even though it notes that State governments will be, “free to adopt portions of the policy,” does not specify how such freedom will be achieved. It becomes relevant, if specific standards are prescribed by the Central government for data sharing, or as a precondition to financial assistance. 
  • There is also the absence of any comment on whether data gathered from States may be sold by the Central government and whether the proceeds from it will be shared with the States. 

Connecting the dots:


(Sansad TV: Perspective)


Feb 21: Mother Tongue: Soul of Life – https://youtu.be/PYC3F_mWzaA 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education

Mother Tongue: Soul of Life

Context: The theme of this year’s International Mother Language Day is focused on the use of Technology for Multilingual Learning

  • According to the Language Census India is home to 19,500 languages or dialects, of which 121 languages are spoken by 10,000 or more people in our country. 
  • National Education Policy released in 2020 has strongly advocated imparting early education in regional language or mother tongue.

The History

  • On February 21, 1952, Pakistan’s police opened fire on students of University of Dhaka (in erstwhile East Pakistan) protesting against the imposition of Urdu. 
  • The Bengali language movement demanded the inclusion of Bengali as a national language of Pakistan, in addition to Urdu, which was the mother tongue of only 3-4% of the nation, while Bengali was spoken by more than 50% of the population.
  • On January 9, 1998, Canada-based Rafiqul Islam wrote to the United Nations, asking them to commemorate the 1952 killings in Dhaka and mark the day to preserve languages from around the world from extinction. 
  • This led to the declaration of 21st February as International Mother Language Day. 

Cause of Concern 

Mother tongue has a very powerful impact in the formation of the individual. A child’s first comprehension of the world around him, the learning of concepts and skills and his perception of existence, starts with the language that is first taught to him – his Mother Tongue.

  • When a person speaks their Mother Tongue, a direct connection establishes between heart, brain and tongue.
  • Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. 
  • Globally around 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. 
  • Though the use of mother languages as mediums of instruction in school and higher education has been armoured from pre-Independence times, sadly, the number of those desiring to study in English has been multiplying exponentially. 
  • This has led to the burgeoning of monolingual educational institutes governed by the English language and is creating a society that is far from sensitive, just and equitable.
  • The nature of dominance of English over all other mother languages is allied to power, status and identity of students. Students speaking different mother languages come together to study in an educational institute where they interact with each other without any difficulties at both school and higher education level. Yet they are being taught monolingually through a foreign language that not all students are able to associate with. The whole process has led to the ignorance of mother languages and a feeling of disassociation among students.

Need to teach children in their mother tongue

According to the National University of Education, Planning and Administration, the number of children studying in English medium schools in India increased by an astonishing 273% between 2003 and 2011. 

Concerns around the subject

  • Their parents think they know exactly what they are doing and why: they believe that knowledge of English is key to job security and upward mobility, and they are convinced that their children’s opportunities will increase in direct proportion to their English vocabularies.
  • They are right, but they need to understand that knowing English helps a lot in getting a good job, but only if that English is meaningful, accompanied by understanding and fundamental knowledge in all the other things children go to school to learn. The English used in most Indian schools simply does not allow for any real learning to take place.
  • The subject is complex and fascinating. Given India’s linguistic diversity, the dream of a common language is quiet powerful. And English seems to many the only solution. Yet the results so far are abysmal.

Concerns around the school’s performance

  • In the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), India scored 75th out of 77 countries. This is an overall indicator of how schools are performing and does not specifically implicate English as a culprit. PISA continues to rank countries around the world, but after its 2009 humiliation, India has refused to participate, citing cultural inappropriateness in the testing.
  • India’s primary education is notorious for its rote learning, poorly trained teachers and lack of funding (India spends only 2.6% of its GDP on education; China spends 4.1 and Brazil is more than double India’s at 5.7). English as the language of instruction makes all of it worse – developmentally, it is a disaster. 
  • Consider school from the child’s perspective. Most kids are tiny when they set off from home. For the first time in their lives, they have to cope in a strange environment for many hours with a large number of other children whom they do not know. They must sit still, be quiet and speak only on command. The teacher, who is also a stranger, expects children to master completely new concepts: reading and writing; addition and subtraction; photosynthesis; the difference between a city and state and country.

Other countries do not do this to their children – China, France, Germany, Holland or Spain 

  • English is commonly mastered as a second language – and primary education happens in the dominant language of the area. 
  • At the moment, only about 17% of Indian children are in English medium schools. Current trends suggest that this figure will rise exponentially in the coming decade (Bihar saw a rise of 4700% in just five years). 

Concerns around the expertise of teachers in the subject

  • While the research is clear that children learn best in their own mother tongues, there are other compelling arguments as well, particularly in India. 
  • Classrooms are only as good as their teachers – in India, in 2012, 91% of the teachers currently serving in both private and government schools were unable to pass a national eligibility test.
  • With this level of incompetence, we still expect them to teach in a language they are likely weak in themselves.

The Way Forward

  • Expand the initiative: We must begin with imparting primary education (at least until Class 5) in the student’s mother tongue, gradually scaling it up. For professional courses, while the initiative of the 14 engineering colleges is commendable, we need more such efforts all across the country. 
  • Textbooks in Native Languages: There is lack of high-quality textbooks in native languages at all levels. This creates bottleneck for more students to take up styding in their mother tongue and therefore needs to be addressed urgently.
  • Leveraging Technology in Digital age: Content in the digital learning ecosystem is greatly skewed towards English which excludes the vast majority of our children, and this has to be corrected.
  • Non-exclusivist approach: Educational institutions at all levels should not adopt ‘Mother tongue versus English’, but a ‘Mother tongue plus English’ approach. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, proficiency in different languages opens new vistas to a wider world.

Conclusion

  • The language of instruction should simply be a vehicle, an effortless flow of grammar and words which everyone absorbs without having to puzzle it through for meaning and definition. 
  • Science, maths and literacy are hard enough as it is without adding so many layers of complexity. The country needs its next generation of leaders to master their fundas thoroughly so they can go on to practise medicine, build bridges, put in plumbing and design solar lighting systems. And children can learn second, third and fourth languages all in good time.
  • But that will happen only if those youngsters grow up loving language, not feeling threatened and judged by it. 

We need them to write poetry and songs and novels. We need them to feel proud of their mother tongues, not apologetic and ashamed as if their intelligence is based on how much English they know.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Why should children learn in their mother tongue? Discuss.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Neolithic Age:

  1. The major crops grown during this period were ragi, horse gram, cotton, rice, wheat, and barley. 
  2. Pottery first appeared in this age.

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 The Angadia system is used mostly in which of the following business?

  1. Farming
  2. Jewellery
  3. Cold storage
  4. Spices

Q.3 Exercise ‘Cobra Warrior’ will take place in which of the following country?

  1. UK
  2. USA
  3. Maldives
  4. India

ANSWERS FOR 24th Feb 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 B
3 A

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