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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 28th February 2022

  • IASbaba
  • February 28, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)

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

Context: India and France shall conclude a deal soon for the joint development of a 125KN engine for the indigenous fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) under development.

  • The collaboration is between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and French engine maker Safran.

About Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)

  • The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is an Indian programme to develop fifth generation fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.
  • It will also include sixth generation niche technologies.
  • The aircraft, along with its naval variant, is intended to provide the bulk of the manned tactical airpower over the coming decades. 
  • AMCA would be the third supersonic jet of Indian origin after the HAL Marut and HAL Tejas.

News Source: TH


Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB)

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Polity

Context: The Central government’s decision of adopting a new criterion for selecting members of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), has evoked sharp criticism from political circles in Punjab and Haryana.

Key takeaways 

  • According to the Bhakra Beas Management Board Rules, 1974, the member (power) in BBMB was from Punjab and the member (irrigation) was from Haryana.
  • But in the amended rules of 2022, this requirement has been done away with. 
  • Opposition parties are arguing that the abolition of the permanent membership of Punjab and Haryana in the BBMB was an attack on the rights of Haryana.

Background

  • As per the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, the waters of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej are allocated to India and are available to be utilised for irrigation purposes within the country.
  • On the Beas and Sutlej, Bhakra Dehar and Beas power projects were constructed.
  • The BBMB controls these projects, and the expenditure is shared by partner states in the ratio of their shares.
  • Under the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966, the share from BBMB was divided between Punjab and Haryana in the ration of 58:42, with some share to Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh subsequently added.
  • Primarily, Punjab and Haryana are the two major beneficiaries, and Punjab has the larger share.

News Source: TH


International Space Station (ISS)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Science and technology

Context: Recently Russia has threatened the world by saying that Russia could respond to the US sanctions by letting the ISS fall from space. 

  • Russian space agency chief said that the ISS could drop over US or Europe, or over India and China. 
  • Its orbital flight path usually does not take it over most of the Russian territory.

About International Space Station

  • The International Space Station is the only operational space laboratory as of now, orbiting the earth in a trajectory that is about 400 km above the land surface.
  • It is operated by more than 15 partner countries. 
  • Some of the partners of the ISS are: Russia, United States, Canada, Japan and several members of the European Space Agency.
  • The football-field-sized ISS travels at a speed of about 28,000 km per hour. 
    • It completes one journey around the earth in about one and a half hours. In one day, therefore, it makes about 16 trips around the world.
  • The ISS is not the first space station to be built and operated. 
    • Several smaller space stations have been used earlier, the most famous of which have been the Russian Mir space station that operated in the 1980s, and the American Skylab.
  • The ISS has been in operation since 1998 and is expected to continue at least till 2028. 
    • Russia, however, has indicated that it might pull out of the collaboration earlier, possibly by 2024.

News Source: IE


(News from PIB)


Cabinet approves implementation of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-2:

In News: The Union Cabinet has approved the national roll-out of Central Sector Scheme, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, with a budget of Rs.1,600 crore for five years. 

  • The National Health Authority (NHA) will be the implementing agency of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).
  • Based on the foundations laid down in the form of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) trinity and other digital initiatives of the government, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) is creating a seamless online platform through the provision of a wide-range of data, information and infrastructure services, duly leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems while ensuring the security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information.
  • Digital health solutions across healthcare ecosystem have proven to be of immense benefit over the years, with CoWIN, Arogya Setu and eSanjeevani further demonstrating the role technology can play in enabling access to healthcare. However, there is a need to integrate such solutions for continuum of care, and effective utilization of resources.
  • Under the ABDM, citizens will be able to create their ABHA (Ayushman Bharat Health Account) numbers, to which their digital health records can be linked. This will enable creation of longitudinal health records for individuals across various healthcare providers, and improve clinical decision making by healthcare providers. 
  • The mission will improve equitable access to quality healthcare by encouraging use of technologies such as telemedicine and enabling national portability of health services.

The growing need to introduce electronic health records 

  • In the current form, ABDM lays little emphasis on the use of this health data by the public health research community. 
  • Electronic health records are most useful to public health research. In the absence of electronic health records, data for public health research studies is usually collected by public health agencies or research institutes as part of an ongoing or new study. 
  • This requires time to plan the study, recruit participants, and train field staff before the actual data collection. 
  • To facilitate longitudinal analysis, such data collection also needs to be carried out at pre-decided future intervals that could be months or years apart. 
  • The limitations to this include high cost and lengthy durations of time. Having access to pre-collected data will address both these limitations. Most importantly, data from the health ID is likely to be more complete as compared to most hospital records in India, which comprise of paper prescriptions or manual register entries.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that to obtain evidence-based findings real-world data needs to be available. While there is no doubt that with prior health records, a doctor or physician can flag the severity of COVID-19 for someone who has a history of diabetes or blood pressure, the reverse of this is also true. 
  • Using medical history and disease end-point data, unknown risk factors of the disease can also be identified. This would require that electronic health records be made available and supplemented with additional information of the patient such as lifestyle. 
  • For western countries, electronic health records are maintained at the hospital level, and they commonly store responses to basic lifestyle questions as part of the patient’s health record.

Technological Infrastructure

The involved digital infrastructure for storage and accessing this data will be built on the National Health Stack. 

  • The stack is a collection of pre-written code (or commonly referred to as APIs) specific to interface with the ABDM system. 
  • This will be one platform where those interested (and approved) file for insurance claims, can perform analytics in addition to storing individual health data and hosting the repository of various medical agencies. 
  • This health stack will also integrate with payment gateways. 

Currently, around 14 crore users have enrolled for a health ID with the ABDM and the programme has been piloted for a year in six union territories in India.

What are the challenges?

Although ABDM is visionary and can be the much-needed digital intervention to improve healthcare access in India, its implementation and overall objectives need more thought. There are some issues that can be foreseen. These include patient-physician trust, technological challenges, and data protection. 

  • Public Trust: In instances where remote or specialised consultation is being sought, a new physician or a doctor will need to gain the patient’s trust for obtaining consent of the patient to share their electronic health records.
  • Internet Connectivity Problems: The public sector IT systems lack faster internet speed, robust websites, and lags in providing a seamless user experience. For a country where rates of computer illiteracy are high, interfaces need to be kept simple and should be more user friendly. 
  • Training Personnel in Rural Areas: There is the issue of citizens living in rural areas accessing such a facility digitally. These citizens would need to rely on their treating doctor or physician, who is local to them, to register them for the health ID. 
    • This treating doctor or physician would also need to be trained in dealing with patients’ personal details and, most importantly, the fact that enrollment into the ABDM Health ID is voluntary, and not mandatory. 
    • Explanation on how the system works and the involved intricacies would also need to be communicated to allow citizens, especially in rural areas, to make an informed decision.
  • Data protection: In the absence of data protection laws, both storage of one’s health data and its use will need to be governed by well laid down rules, even if there is consent by the individual/patient. 
    • Currently, there is a Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture (DEPA) drafted by the NITI Aayog in 2020 to govern access of such data by public and private agencies. 
    • For ABDM, the DEPA entails that if the individual/patient provides consent then their data can be shared to the agency requesting access. 
    • Granting of ‘consent’ to a doctor or any other involved agency such as insurance companies should not mean that the data can be used for any other purpose than what the consent was granted for or be stored by them locally. 
  • Informed Consent: ABDM claims that the individual is at liberty to deny consent in sharing their data; however, this may lead to some penalisation of the individuals who do not provide consent. For example, an insurance company may incentivise those who consent to share their electronic health data and make processes more rigid for those who do not. 
    • Additionally, in some cases, consent may be sought from the organisation and not the individual. This would bypass individual consent for each request and needs another set of data governing rules, which are well-advertised and explained to the individual providing consent.

News Source: PIB


MISCELLANEOUS

Won Gold medal at the Moscow Wushu Stars Championship: Sadia Tariq

  • Wushu, or Kungfu, is a hard and soft and complete martial art, as well as a full-contact sport. 
  • It has a long history in reference to Chinese martial arts; developed in 1949 in an effort to standardize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts.

Exercise Eastern Bridge-VI (2022): 

Indo-Oman exercise


National Polio Immunization Drive

  • Universal Immunization Programme is focusing to protect children from more diseases than ever before and has introduced several new vaccines like Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), Rotavirus vaccine, and Measles-Rubella vaccine (MR) in the recent past. 
  • Further, to provide additional protection to our children, the Government of India has also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine into its routine immunization program.
  • India has been free of polio for more than a decade, with the last case of wild poliovirus reported on 13th January 2011. 
  • However, India continues to remain vigilant to prevent re-entry of the poliovirus into the country from neighboring countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where wild poliovirus continues to cause the disease.

(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements affecting India’s interests 
  • GS-3: Economy, Taxation etc

Canada’s digital services tax

Context: The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has protested against Canada’s decision to impose a digital services tax of 3% on large companies that sell various services in Canada. 

  • Companies with a total annual revenue of at least $850 million and profits of at least $16 million will be taxed by the Canadian government under the new rules. 
  • USTR has argued that the new tax particularly targets large U.S. technology businesses and has stated that it would look into ways available under existing bilateral and other trade agreements to retaliate against Canada’s actions.

What is the issue?

  • Many MNCs draw a large share of their revenue and profits from outside their home countries, yet they pay most of their taxes in their home country.
    • These include large technology companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Google which do business in developing countries like India and China but pay most taxes in the US or in tax shelters such as Ireland. 
  • Many governments have tried to tax at least a part of the profits of these MNCs.
  • In a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in October 2021, a total of 136 countries (including Canada and USA) came to an agreement on how to tax large MNCs. 
  • They agreed, under what is known as the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, that large MNCs will have to pay tax on a certain portion of their profits to the government of the foreign country where they do business. 
  • To be particular, companies will have to allocate 25% of the residual profits, which is defined as profits exceeding 10% of revenue, as profits earned in the foreign country and pay tax on these profits. 
  • Other than this, the countries also agreed to impose a minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15% on corporations with revenues and profits above a certain threshold level. 
  • This was seen as a way to bring an end to tax competition which adversely affected the tax revenues of governments. 
  • So, Canada’s new digital services tax basically comes at a time when governments are trying to implement new ground rules on how to tax companies and share revenues.

Why is the USTR unhappy about the digital services tax?

  • USTR has argued that Canada’s digital services tax goes against the spirit and the text of the BEPS agreement signed by 136 countries in October 2021. 
  • It was agreed that the signatory countries would not impose new unilateral taxes that work against the spirit of the BEPS agreement. Countries were instead supposed to work together on the swift implementation of the BEPS rules.
  • Canada has contested that the digital services tax will not come into effect if the BEPS framework is implemented on time (by the end of 2023). 
  • Canada has also assured the United States that it is committed to cooperating with other governments to implement the BEPS framework. It should be noted that in case there is a delay in the implementation of the BEPS agreement, then companies will have to pay the digital service tax from 2024 on all their accumulated profits since 2022.

What lies ahead?

  • The dispute over Canada’s digital services tax is seen as a prelude to the various other problems that are likely to arise as governments across the world try to implement the BEPS agreement. 
  • Some also see Canada’s decision as a sign that there may be doubts over the timely implementation of the BEPS framework.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries.

SWIFT

Context: U.S., Europe and several other western nations are moving to exclude Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), an international network for banks to facilitate smooth money transactions globally. 

  • This could be the strongest economic sanction against Russia over its military moves in Ukraine, as it will potentially cut off the country from receiving international payments.

What is SWIFT?

  • SWIFT is a messaging network used by banks and financial institutions globally for quick and faultless exchange of information pertaining to financial transactions.
  •  The Belgium-headquartered SWIFT connects more than 11,000 banking and securities organisations in over 200 countries and territories. 
  • Each participant on the platform is assigned a unique eight-digit SWIFT code or a bank identification code (BIC). 
  • SWIFT is merely a platform that sends messages and does not hold any securities or money. It provides standardised and reliable communication to facilitate the transaction.
    • If a person, say, in New York with a Citibank account, wants to send money to someone with an HSBC account in London, the payee would have to submit to his bank, the London-based beneficiary’s account number along with the eight-digit SWIFT code of the latter’s bank. Citi would then send a SWIFT message to HSBC. Once that is received and approved, the money would be credited to the required account. 
  • In 2021, the SWIFT financial messaging platform had recorded an average of 42 million FIN messages per day, as per the data on its website. 
  • The full-year figure was an 11.4% growth on a year-over-year basis. 
  • Europe, West Asia, and Africa, combined sent approximately 4.66 billion messages. 
  • The Americas and the United Kingdom stood second with 4.42 billion interactions, with the Asia Pacific on third with an approximate 1.50 billion messages.

What happens if one is excluded from SWIFT? 

  • If a country is excluded from the most participatory financial facilitating platform, its foreign funding would take a hit, making it entirely reliant on domestic investors. 
  • An alternative system would be cumbersome to build and even more difficult to integrate with an already expansive system. 
  • SWIFT, first used in 1973, went live in 1977 with 518 institutions from 22 countries, its website states. SWIFT itself had replaced the much slower and far less dynamic Telex. 

Are any countries excluded from SWIFT?

  • Certain Iranian banks were ousted from the system in 2018 despite resistance from several countries in Europe. 
  • “This step, while regrettable, was taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system, and based on an assessment of the economic situation,” SWIFT states on its website.

How is the organisation governed?

  • SWIFT claims to be neutral. 
  • Its shareholders, consisting of 3,500 firms across the globe, elect the 25-member board, which is responsible for oversight and management of the company. 
  • It is regulated by G-10 central banks of Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, and Sweden, alongside the European Central Bank. 
  • Its lead overseer is the National Bank of Belgium. 
  • The SWIFT oversight forum was established in 2012. 
  • The G-10 participants were joined by the central banks of India, Australia, Russia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, the Republic of Turkey, and the People’s Republic of China. 

Connecting the dots:


Veer Damodar Savarkar

TOPIC:

  • GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

Period: 28 May 1883 – 26 February 1966

Cause of Death: Fasting (Sallekhana Prayopavesa)

He was commonly known as Veer Savarkar (“brave” in his native Marathi language)

  • An Indian independence activist, politician, lawyer, writer, and the formulator of the Hindutva philosophy
  • Championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved orthodox Hindu belief. In fact, he even dismissed cow worship as superstitious. Savarkar was a radical and his Hindutva too was a radical break in the Hindu thought: anti-caste, reformist, modernist and futuristic. It was a modern Hindu response to the modern world
  • Organised a youth group named ‘Mitra Mela’
  • In London, Veer Savarkar inspired his fellow Indian students and formed an organisation ‘Free India Society’ to fight against Britishers for freedom.
  • Was against foreign goods and propagated the idea of Swadeshi. In 1905, he burnt all the foreign goods in a bonfire on Dussehra.
  • Provided legal defence to Madan Lal Dhingra, who was accused in a murder case of a British Indian army officer named Sir William Hutt Curzon Wyllie.
  • Veer Savarkar also founded the two-nation theory in his book ‘Hindutva’ calling Hindus and Muslims two separate nations. In 1937, Hindu Mahasabha passed it as a resolution. In 1937, he also became the president of ‘Hindu Mahasabha’.
  • A fierce critic of the Indian National Congress (INC) and Mahatma Gandhi; opposed the ‘Quit India Movement’ and later objected to INC’s acceptance of Indian partition. He proposed the co-existence of two nations in one country.

Hindutva

The main challenge thrown by the British rule and colonial modernity under the pale of capitalism was for Hindus to justify their existence as a society. Who were they? Could Hindus survive in a modern world dominated by the expansionist organised religions, nations and nation-state? Savarkar responded to these challenges. 

  • The coming together of various pagan traditions as Hinduism to meet the challenge of the Abrahamic monotheism is a centuries-old process. Savarkar consolidated it under a new ideological construct. 
  • He wielded it into a coherent political construct, Hindutva that aimed to answer the challenges of the modern world, especially the charge of the colonialists that India is not a nation and hence unworthy of self-rule.
  • For India to be able to resist imperialism, a nation had to be born. For Savarkar, that nation was a Hindu Rashtra. Only a Hindu nation transcending caste, regional and linguistic barriers was capable of resisting imperialism. 
  • No longer would invading armies roam around the countryside; no longer would India be a playground for colonial powers; no longer would its people and cities be pulverised by warlords for they would have to face a powerful Indian state created on the foundation of a Hindu nation. And the foundation of this Hindu nation was Hindutva.
  • Savarkar was a radical and his Hindutva, too, was a radical break in Hindu thought: anti-caste, reformist, modernist and futuristic. It was a modern Hindu response to the modern world.
  • Wrote A book – Hindutva: who is Hindu?

50 years of imprisonment – Kaala Paani

  • Savarkar wrote a book titled “The History of the War of Indian Independence”- wrote about the guerilla warfare tricks used in 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. 
  • While the book was banned by Britishers, Madama Bhikaji Cama published the book in Netherlands, Germany and France, which eventually reached many Indian revolutionaries.
  • Savarkar was arrested in 1909 on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Morle-Minto reform. He also tried to escape by diving in the water but was arrested. He was sentenced to two life sentences i.e. 50 years in the cellular jail of Andamans, also known as Kala Pani, in 1911.

Death – 1964: Savarkar declared his wish to attain Samadhi and started hunger-strike on February 1, 1966 and passed away on February 26, 1966. He believed that his purpose of life is solved as India has gained Independence.

Note: In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar’s Island was renamed after Veer Savarkar International Airport.


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding International Space Station:

  1. The International Space Station is the only operational space laboratory as of now, orbiting the earth in a trajectory that is about 400 km above the land surface.
  2. It completes one journey around the earth in about one and a half hours. In one day, therefore, it makes about 16 trips around the world.

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 Indira Gandhi canal gets water from which river?

  1. Sutlej and Beas
  2. Ravi and Beas
  3. Ravi and Chenab
  4. Beas only

Q.3 Exercise Eastern Bridge-VI is a military exercise between which of the following?

  1. India and Vietnam
  2. India and Oman
  3. Oman and Vietnam
  4. Vietnam and Myanmar

ANSWERS FOR 28th Feb 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 A
3 B

Must Read

On India’s UNSC stand on Ukraine:

The Hindu

On the state of medical education in India:

The Hindu

On Russia and Ukraine war:

Indian Express

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