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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 3rd February 2022

  • IASbaba
  • February 3, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Economy 

Context: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) workers are still waiting for almost Rs. 3,360 crore in pending wage payments.

  • The largest pending payments are in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Key takeaways 

  • The Centre reduced its budget allocation for the rural jobs scheme by 25%.
  • If these pending wage and material payment liabilities are carried forward into the next financial year, it will further reduce the amount of money available to pay workers next year.

What is Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)?

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was notified in 2005.
  • Goal – To improve the livelihood security of people in rural areas.
  • It is a universal scheme guaranteeing 100 days of wage employment in a year to every rural household that expresses a demand. 
  • It aims to guarantee the ‘Right to Work’.
  • Every registered household receives a Job Card (JC) to track their work completed.
  • The scheme is implemented by the gram panchayat.
  • The failure of provision for employment within 15 days of the receipt of a job application will result in the payment of unemployment allowance to the job seekers.
  • Employment is to be provided within 5 km of an applicant’s residence
  • Employment under MGNREGA is a legal entitlement

News Source: TH


Electoral bonds

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Polity 

Context: According to a Right to Information reply Electoral bonds worth Rs. 1,213 crore were sold by the State Bank of India (SBI) in January, with most of them (Rs. 784.84 crore) being encashed in the New Delhi branch, pointing towards national parties.

  • The amount of bonds sold this time had been the highest before any Assembly poll since the scheme began in 2018.

About Electoral Bonds Scheme

  • Electoral Bond is a financial instrument for making donations to political parties.
  • The bonds are issued in multiples of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore without any maximum limit.
  • State Bank of India is authorised to issue and encash these bonds, which are valid for fifteen days from the date of issuance.
  • These bonds are redeemable in the designated account of a registered political party.
  • The bonds are available for purchase by any person (who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India) for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and October as may be specified by the Central Government.
  • A person being an individual can buy bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals. Donor’s name is not mentioned on the bond.

News Source: TH


New genus of parasitic flowering plant

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Environment 

Context: A new genus of a parasitic flowering plant has recently been discovered from the Nicobar group of islands.

About new genus of the plant

  • The genus Septemeranthus grows on the plant species Horsfieldia glabra (Blume) Warb. 
  • The genus belongs to the family Loranthaceae, a hemi-parasite under the sandalwood order Santalales and is of widespread importance.
  • The parasitic flowering plants have a modified root structure spread on the stem of the tree and are anchored inside the bark of the host tree.
  • It derives nutrients from its hosts has green leaves capable of photosynthesis.
  • The new genus is endemic only to the Nicobar group of islands. 

News Source: TH


World Wetlands Day 2022

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Environment 

Context: Union Minister for Environment addressed the national level celebration of World Wetlands day 2022 held at Sultanpur National Park, a Ramsar site of Haryana.

Key takeaways 

  • World Wetlands Day is observed every year on February 2nd all over the world.
  • It is celebrated to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.
  • This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
  • Theme of World Wetlands Day: “Wetlands Action for People and Nature”, 

New Ramsar sites

  • Two new Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance), Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in U.P were also announced 
    • Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in UP provides a safe wintering and staging ground for a large number of species of the Central Asian Flyway.
    • Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat is a coastal wetland with rich avifaunal diversity providing a safe habitat to endangered and vulnerable species.
  • India now has a network of 49 Ramsar sites covering an area of 10,93,636 hectares, the highest in South Asia.

News source: IE 


(News from PIB)


Kalvari-Class Submarine INS Vagir

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Defence & Security

In news: The fifth submarine of Project 75, INS Vagir, Indian Navy’s Kalvari class commenced her sea trials on 01 Feb 22.

Key takeaways 

  • Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vagir is the fifth among the six Kalvari-class submarines.
  • The other vessels in the class are INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj, INS Vela and INS Vagsheer.

Technical details

  • The design of Kalvari class of submarines is based on Scorpene class of submarines which have Diesel Electric transmission systems. 
  • These are primarily attack submarines or ‘hunter-killer’ type which means they are designed to target and sink adversary naval vessels.
  • It can reach the highest speeds of 11 knots when surfaced and 20 knots when submerged.
  • These submarines have the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) which enables non-nuclear submarines to operate for a long time without access to surface oxygen.

Do you know? 

  • Like Kalvari (which means Tiger Shark), Vagir has been named after a Sand Fish, a predatory marine species. 
  • Khanderi has been named after an Island Fort built by Chhatrapati Shivaji.
  • Karanj has also been named after an Island located South of Mumbai.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ SCIENCE & TECH

  • GS-3: Awareness in the fields of IT
  • GS-3: Environment Conservation
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

AI technologies and Climate

Context: Union government in the recent budget described AI as sunrise technology.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. Some examples of Artificial Intelligence are

  • Siri, Alexa and other smart assistants
  • Self-driving cars
  • Robo-advisors
  • Conversational bots
  • Email spam filters
  • Netflix’s recommendations

How AI can help in tackling Climate Change?

The great strength of AI lies in its ability to learn by experience, collecting massive amounts of data from its environment, intuiting connections that humans fail to notice, and recommending appropriate actions on the basis of its conclusions. 

  • Entities looking to reduce their carbon footprint should turn the AI spotlight on all three components of the effort:
  • Monitoring Emissions. Entities can use AI-powered data engineering to automatically track emissions throughout their carbon footprint. 
    • They can arrange to collect data from operations and from every part of the value chain, including materials and components suppliers, transporters, and even downstream users of their products. 
    • By layering intelligence onto the data, AI can generate approximations of missing data and estimate the level of certainty of the results.
  • Predicting Emissions. Predictive AI can forecast future emissions across a the entities carbon footprint, in relation to current reduction efforts, new carbon reduction methodologies, and future demand. As a result, they can set, adjust, and achieve reduction targets more accurately.
  • Reducing Emissions. By providing detailed insight into every aspect of the value chain, prescriptive AI and optimization can improve efficiency in production, transportation, and elsewhere, thereby reducing carbon emissions and cutting costs.

Challenges with AI

  1. Carbon Emissions: 
    • On the one hand, it can help reduce the effects of the climate crisis, such as in smart grid design, developing low-emission infrastructure, and modelling climate change predictions. On the other hand, AI is itself a significant emitter of carbon. 
    • The carbon footprint of training a single big language model is equal to around 300,000 kg of carbon dioxide emissions. This is of the order of 125 round-trip flights between New York and Beijing.
    • In 2020, digital technologies accounted for between 1.8 per cent and 6.3 per cent of global emissions.
  2. Inequitable access to resources
    • Both global AI governance and climate change policy (historically) are contentious, being rooted in inequitable access to resources.
    • Developing and underdeveloped countries face a challenge on two fronts: 
      • First, AI’s social and economic benefits are accruing to a few countries, 
      • Second, most of the current efforts and narratives on the relationship between AI and climate impact are being driven by the developed West.
    • Developing countries are not sufficiently represented and empowered at the international bodies that set rules and standards on AI.
  1. Transparency and Accountability
    • The largest companies working in AI space are neither transparent nor meaningfully committed to studying to substantively limit the climate impact of their operations.
    • Also, Policy makers are not “the fluent” in developing and underdeveloped countries that may create barriers in crafting regulations and industrial policy.

Conclusion

  • Governments of developing countries, India included, should also assess their technology-led growth priorities in the context of AI’s climate costs.
  • It may be worth thinking through what “solutions” would truly work for the unique social and economic contexts of the communities in our global village.

Connecting the dots:


SOCIETY/ ANTROPOLOGY

  • GS-1: Society

Ethnocentrism

  • Ethnocentrism broadly refers to ethnic self-centredness and self-importance. 
  • This attitude could lead an individual to believe that their own culture or way of life is the correct way of living. 
  • It could also result in hostility towards other cultures. 
  • Ethnocentrism is therefore the tendency to view one’s own group, the ‘in-group’, as the ideal and all other groups as the ‘out-groups’.
  • The in-group’s boundaries are defined by one or more observable characteristics such as language, accent, physical features or religion, indicating common descent. 

Definitions

  • Charles Darwin argued that competition with other groups makes people more cooperative with members of their own group, which further influences group prosperity. 
  • Herbert Spencer argued that societies in general are characterised by internal amity (towards members of one’s group) and external enmity (towards everyone else).  Neither of them used the term ethnocentrism, however. 
  • Developing their ideas, it was the anthropologist William Sumner who is first said to have coined the term in 1906 in his book Folkways and also used the concepts ‘in-group’ and ‘out-group’. 
  • For the geologist and anthropologist William John McGee, ethnocentrism was a particular way of thinking similar to egocentrism, but characteristic of ethnic groups. 

Why ethnocentrism was considered bad?

  • Curtails Individual Capabilities: Early anthropologists argued that this feeling of superiority about the in-group curtailed an individual’s ability to understand the practices and values of other groups and to trust them. 
  • Social Tension: This feeling could lead to prejudice, dislike, dominance, ethnic conflict, and even war.
  • Political Choices: Ethnocentrism can also affect consumer choices, voting and may lead to instability of democratic institutions.

 Ethnocentrism, attitude & behaviour

  • Later theorists argued that ethnocentrism might simply be preference for in-groups over out-groups. They said that the segregation of in-groups and out-groups should not necessarily be attributed to bias. 
  • In other words, they argued that you can be indifferent towards out-groups or even like them, but less than one like their in-group. 
  • One may dislike an out-group, but that attitude might not necessarily translate into some sort of discriminatory behaviour in a given situation. 
  • Example: Ravi in India prefers to eat food with his hands. Ravi invites his American friend, Robert, to attend his sister’s wedding in India. When Robert arrives at the wedding, he is horrified to see everyone eating with their hands instead of using cutlery, as they do mostly in the U.S..Robert’s attitude may be conscious or unconscious but his inability to accept this way of eating food as another culture’s practice and his tendency to view it as primitive while seeing his own culture as superior or advanced is ethnocentric.  

Ethnocentrism & Nationalism

  • Ethnocentrism is also quite similar to nationalism. 
  • All the expressions of ethnocentrism, such as feelings of superiority and even hostility towards out-groups, could be easily attributed to nationalism.
  • But while ethnocentrism is at the level of an ethnic group, nationalism is at the level of a national group. 
  • Nevertheless, it is also important to note that nationalism also assumes certain factors that are not necessary for ethnocentrism. 
  • National groups are defined by the belongingness to a group that inhabits a national state or aspires to form a national state whereas ethnic groups do not require national states to be called ethnic groups, and they may lack a shared public culture or even territory.
  • Ethnocentric feelings and attitudes such as preference for a familiar culture and group superiority have been exploited by nationalism.

Connecting the dots:

  • Nationalism vs Patriotism
  • Hitler’s genocide on Jews based on Aryan race superiority

WOMEN/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-1: Women Issues
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Union Budget: Umbrella Schemes of Ministry of Women & Child Development

  • Empowerment and protection of women and children who constitute 67.7% of India’s population and ensuring their wholesome development in a safe and secure environment is crucial for sustainable and equitable development of the country and for achieving transformational economic and social changes.
  • Recognizing the importance of ‘Nari Shakti’ as the harbinger of India’s bright future and for women-led development during the ‘Amrit Kaal’, the government has comprehensively revamped the schemes of the Ministry of Women & Child Development. 

A. Mission Shakti, Mission Vatsalya, Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 have been announced to provide integrated benefits to women and children.

Prime objectives:

  • To address gaps in State action for women and children
  • To promote inter-ministerial and inter- sectoral convergence to create gender equitable and child centred legislation, policies and programmes
  • Mission Shakti: Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women

Aims to create an inclusive society in the country where women and girls have equal access to resources and opportunities which will in turn help in the country’s social, economic and political development. 

  • It will be run in a mission mode and will adopt a life cycle continuum approach. 
  • Provides a strong architecture for convergence, cooperation, and synergy
  • Budget allocation: Rs 3,184 crore in 2022-23

The sub-schemes included under it are:

  • Sambal is more concentrated on the safety and security of women. It includes One Stop Centre to provide necessary support and assistance to women affected by violence in private and public spaces, Mahila Police Volunteer to fight the crime against women through active volunteering, Women’s Helpline providing 24-hour emergency and non-emergency referral services.
  • Swadhar Greh scheme to provide rehabilitation to women affected by unforeseen circumstances, the Ujjawala scheme to help in preventing women and children trafficking. A new component Nari Adalats has been added to the scheme wherein faster alternative dispute resolution is provided and gender justice is ensured.
  • Samarthya aims towards woman empowerment. It includes the schemes of the government like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao to generate awareness and improve the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls in India. Besides it also includes the maternity benefits program under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, gender budgeting, research, creche provisioning for working mothers under National Creche Scheme. 

B. Mission Poshan 2.0

An Integrated Nutrition Support Programme that seeks to address the challenges of malnutrition in children, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers

  • Through a strategic shift in nutrition content and delivery and 
  • By creation of a convergent eco-system to develop and promote practices that nurture health, wellness and immunity. 
  • Poshan 2.0 will seek to optimize the quality and delivery of food under the Supplementary Nutrition Program.

Poshan 2.0 will bring 3 important programmes/schemes under its ambit, viz., 

  • Anganwadi Services
  • Scheme for Adolescent Girls
  • Poshan Abhiyaan

Poshan 2.0 shall focus on 

  • Maternal Nutrition
  • Infant and Young Child Feeding Norms
  • Treatment of MAM/SAM
  • Wellness through AYUSH

Pillars of Poshan 2.0: Convergence, Governance, and Capacity-building

Mission Poshan 2.0 will integrate several key strategies to fulfil its objectives, viz., 

  • Corrective strategies
    • Nutrition Awareness strategies
  • Communication strategies and Creation of green eco-systems. 

Digital infrastructure under the “Poshan Tracker” will strengthen and bring about transparency in nutrition delivery support systems. Technology under Poshan Tracker is being leveraged for

  • Dynamic identification of stunting, wasting, under-weight prevalence among children
  • Last mile tracking of nutrition service delivery

C. Mission Vatsalya 

Children have been recognized by policy makers as one of the supreme national assets. India is home to 472 million children upto the age of 18 years and comprise 39 percent of the country’s population. 

Objectives of Mission Vatsalya: 

  • To secure a healthy and happy childhood for every child in India
  • Foster a sensitive, supportive and synchronized ecosystem for development of children
  • Assist States/UTs in delivering the mandate of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015
  • Achieve the SDG goals.

Components under Mission Vatsalya will include statutory bodies; service delivery structures; institutional care/services; non-institutional community based care; emergency outreach services; training and capacity building.


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)?

  1. The scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development .
  2. Employment under MGNREGA is a legal entitlement

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 Electoral bonds: 

  1. The bonds are issued in multiples of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore without any maximum limit.
  2. State Bank of India is authorised to issue and encash these bonds, which are valid for fifteen days from the date of issuance.

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 newly added as Ramsar site?

  1. Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary 
  2. Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary
  3. Sultanpur National Park
  4. Both (a) and (b)

ANSWERS FOR 4th Feb 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 C
3 D

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