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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th February 2022

  • IASbaba
  • February 7, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


J&K Delimitation Commission

Part of: Prelims and GS-II -Polity

Context: The J&K Delimitation Commission has changed the complexion of most of the 90 Assembly seats.

  • It also reconfigured and renamed 28 new Assembly constituencies and deleted 19 Assembly segments in its interim report. 
  • Besides, it has proposed to redraw all the five Lok Sabha seats.

What is Delimitation?

  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats. 
  • Objective of delimitation
    • To provide equal representation to equal segments of a population; 
    • Fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
  • Constitutional provisions: Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census. 
  • Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.
  • Composition of the Commission: According to the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002, the Delimitation Commission will have three members: 
    • A serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court as the chairperson, 
    • Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner nominated by the CEC 
    • State Election Commissioner as ex-officio members.

Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir

  • The Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir was constituted by the Centre on 6th March 2021 to redraw Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies of the union territory in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002, passed by the Centre in August 2019 along with other J&K-specific Bills.

News Source: TH


Sputnik Light vaccine

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Health 

Context: The drug regulator DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India) has granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Single-dose Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine in India.

About the vaccine

  • Sputnik Light is based on recombinant human adenovirus serotype number 26 (the first component of Sputnik V).
  • It is the world’s first registered combination vector vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19
  • As per the vaccine developer Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), a one-shot vaccination regimen of Sputnik Light provides for ease of administration and helps to increase the efficacy and duration of other vaccines when used as a booster shot.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) 

  • It is a regulatory mechanism to allow the use of vaccines and medicines to prevent and/or reduce the impact of life- threatening diseases or conditions as caused by COVID-19.

About Drugs Controller General of India 

  • S/he is the head of department of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSO) of the Government of India.
    • Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation works in close collaboration with the state control administration and assist them in securing uniform enforcement of the Drug Act.
  • Responsible for approval of licences of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, IV fluids, vaccines, and sera in India.
  • DCGI also sets standards for manufacturing, sales, import, and distribution of drugs in India.
  • Comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

News Source: Livemint


(News from PIB)


Lakadong Turmeric

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy 

Context: West Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya, witnessed the first-of-its-kind Fly-Off Event to demonstrate the use of novel and innovative Drone technology for payload delivery.

  • It could serve as a model of solving the 1st mile connectivity issues for Lakadong Turmeric farmers from the hinterland.

Lakadong Turmeric 

  • Lakadong Turmeric has been identified under The One District, One Product (ODOP) Initiative, as a product with excellent potential for growth and export for West Jaintia Hills.
  • ODOP also partnered with AGNIi Mission, 
    • AGNIi Mission is one of the nine technology missions under the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council to identify Indian innovative technologies that can play a transformative role in the end-to-end processing.
  • Lakadong Turmeric of West Jaintia Hills is one of   the   world’s   finest turmeric varieties with the highest curcumin content of 7-9%.
  • Meghalaya has applied for a Geographical Indication tag for Lakadong turmeric.
  • India produces 78% of the world’s turmeric.

About One District One Product Scheme

  • The scheme comes under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • It is aimed at promoting a competitive and staple product from a specific area to push sales and improve the standard of living of the local population.
  • It is basically a Japanese business development concept.
  • In India, Uttar Pradesh was the first state to launch the concept in 2018.

News Source: PIB


Integration of E-MANDIS into E-NAM Platform

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy 

Context: Since 31st March 2018, 415 new mandis have been integrated on National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) platform.

  • As per the Union Budget Announcement 2020-21, additional 1000 mandis to be integrated with e-NAM platform

About National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) platform

  • e-NAM was launched in 2016 as a pan-India electronic agricultural marketing/trade portal linking APMCs across the States. 
  • It is managed by Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC).
  • Controlling Ministry: Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare
  • e-NAM provides for contactless remote bidding and mobile-based any time payment for which traders do not need to either visit mandis or banks for the same.
  • Objective of integrating the existing Mandis to “One Nation One Market” for agricultural commodities in India.
  • It networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities and has a vision:
    • To promote uniformity in agriculture marketing by streamlining procedures across the integrated markets.
    • Removing information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promoting real time price discovery based on actual demand and supply.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

India- Central Asia

Context: The inaugural India-Central Asia Summit, the India-Central Asia Dialogue, and the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan in New Delhi — all held over the past four months — collectively indicate a renewed enthusiasm to engage the Central Asian region.

What factors are pushing for India’s renewed e?

  • Great power dynamics: The decline of American power in the broader region (due primarily to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan) has led to a reassertion by China and Russia seeking to fill the power vacuum. 
    • India must ensure that there is no China-led strategic gang up with Pakistan and Taliban against India in the region would severely damage Indian interests.
    • It is therefore necessary for India to go for more proactive engagement in the region to safeguard its own interests.
  • Non-engagement is costlier: India has limited economic and other stakes in the region, primarily due to lack of physical access. The gains from an engagement of Central Asia may be minimal but the disadvantages of non-engagement could be costly in the longer run in the context of great power dynamics.
  • India-Russia Power Dynamics: Russia considers India to be a useful partner in the region as it not only wins back New Delhi, which is moving towards the U.S., but also subtly checkmates the rising Chinese influence in its backyard. 
    • As for China, India’s engagement of the region and the growing warmth in India-Russia relations are not a cause for concern yet, but they could be eventually.
  • Consolidates post-American Afghan policy: U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has landed India in a tough spot as India has very limited space to engage Taliban 2.0. By forging better ties with Central Asia, India can devise new ways of engaging with Taliban.

How can Iran play a role in India’s engagement with Central Asian region?

  • India’s best shot at reaching the CARs is by using a hybrid model – via sea to Chabahar and then by road/rail through Iran (and Afghanistan) to the CARs. 
  • If the re-negotiations on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or the Iran nuclear deal) is a success, it would bring Iran back into the Western fold and away from China (and Russia), which will be favourable to India.
  • While Iran getting close to the West is not preferred by Russia (but preferred by India), but India would be able to use it to its advantage and join Russia in engaging the CARs.

What are the challenges which India could face?

  • China, which shares a land border with the Central Asia region, is already a major investor there. China is the region’s most important economic partner, a reality that worries Russia and sharpens India’s relative irrelevance in the region.
  • Given the India’s diplomatic energies spent on immediate neighbourhood & on great powers, the other challenges include the lack of political will, material capability and diplomatic wherewithal to stay the course in the region.

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports Etc.

Creation of better Power distribution network

Context: Launched in July 2021, the Revamped Distribution Sector Reform Scheme (RDSS) is the latest of many central government grant-based programmes towards electricity distribution network investments. 

  • Others include urban loss reduction schemes such as the Accelerated Power Development Programme and rural connections and network expansion focussed schemes such as SAUBHAGYA

Key Aspects of Revamped Distribution Sector Reform Scheme (RDSS)

  • RDSS’s outlay of Rs 3 lakh crore for five years can enable financially-strained electricity distribution companies to get government support.
  • Half of the outlay is for better feeder and transformer metering and pre-paid smart consumer metering. 
  • The remaining half, 60 per cent of which will be funded by central government grants, will be spent on power loss reduction and strengthening networks.

Concerns of RDSS

  • Complex processes and conditions for fund disbursal. 
  • Only 60 per cent of the total Rs 2.5 lakh crore grants allocated in past schemes were disbursed. 
  • Lack of public review and regulatory oversight in states
  • The prescriptive approach of the scheme design impedes effective implementation. 
    • For example, RDSS emphasises loss reduction investments over system strengthening. 
    • However, high losses are typically connected to sustained poor quality service which, in turn, is affected by inadequate investment in system strengthening. 

Way Ahead for RDSS Scheme

  1. Strengthen rural networks to meet growing demand
    • Rural electrification (4.9 crore poor households electrified in last decade), increased use of appliances like refrigerators and mixers and the needs of rural enterprises will need more network investment. 
    • Without this, the risk of power outages is high. 
    • The RDSS system’s strengthening plans can focus on this challenge.
  1. Strengthen Agricultural Feeders
    • About 25 per cent of electricity sales is to highly subsidised agricultural consumers who also receive erratic, poor quality supply. 
    • Under the national KUSUM scheme, day-time, low-cost supply can be provided to a large number of farmers by installing megawatt scale solar plants, which supply eight hours of quality power directly to dedicated agricultural feeders.
    • For this to work, separate feeders for agricultural consumers are needed. 
    • RDSS prioritises investments and grants towards dedicated agricultural feeders to accelerate feeder solarisation. 
    • States must leverage this grant support to provide reliable supply and reduce subsidy requirements.
  1. Metering of distribution feeders. 
    • Despite efforts, unmetered consumers and non-functional meters at the consumer and feeder level persist. 
    • Without functioning meters, accurate energy accounting and loss monitoring is a challenge.
    • Therefore, all feeders must be equipped with meters capable of communicating readings without manual intervention. 
    • States should leverage RDSS’s emphasis on automatic meter reading for this.
    • To realise benefits, the state regulator must stipulate a framework to evaluate cost reduction and performance improvement due to smart meters and protect consumers from undue tariff impacts due to such investments.
  1. Charging Infrastructure
    • Discoms can avail 60 per cent of grants under RDSS for network investments required to address the demand of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. This can accelerate a shift away from petrol and diesel fuels.

Conclusion

Central government agencies should be flexible in the monitoring, tracking and fund disbursal mechanisms. Without these efforts, despite its potential, RDSS will likely be important but limited in its impact, like its predecessors.

Connecting the dots:


(ORF: Expert Speak)


Jan 18: Setting a path to green, resilient and inclusive development

https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/setting-a-path-to-green-resilient-and-inclusive-development/ 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Climate Change

Green, resilient and inclusive development

Context: The decade following the 2009 global financial crisis was characterised by growing structural weaknesses in developing countries, which have been further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, worsening poverty and inequality. 

  • These weaknesses include slowing investment, productivity, employment, and poverty reduction; rising debt; and accelerating destruction of natural capital. 
  • The pandemic has already pushed over 100 million more people into extreme poverty and worsened inequality. 
  • The effects of climate change are expected to push an estimated additional 130 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.

COVID-19 and climate change have starkly exposed the interdependence between people, the planet, and the economy. All economic activities depend upon ecosystem services, so depleting the natural assets that create these services, eventually worsens economic performance.

Recovery Packages

A business-as-usual recovery package that neglects these interlinkages would not adequately address the complex challenges that confront the world nor its structural weaknesses and would likely result in a lost decade of development. 

  • Targeting socioeconomic, climate change and biodiversity challenges in isolation is likely to be less effective than a coordinated response to their interacting effects. 
  • A continuation of current growth patterns would not address structural economic weaknesses and would erode natural capital and increase risks that affect long run growth. 
  • As the depletion of forests, oceans, and other natural assets worsen, the cost of inaction is becoming more expensive than the cost of climate action and it is the poor and vulnerable who are most disadvantaged by it.

The Answer lies in – The GRID approach

The solution is to adopt a Green, Resilient and Inclusive Development (GRID) approach that pursues poverty reduction and shared prosperity with a long-term sustainability lens. This approach sets a recovery path that 

  • Maintains a line of sight to long-term development goals
  • Recognizes the interconnections between people, the planet, and the economy
  • Tackles risks in an integrated way

A green recovery will not just be beneficial for combating climate change but also offer the best economic returns for government spending and yield development outcomes. The GRID approach is novel in two respects.

  • First, the GRID approach pays particular attention to their interrelationships and thus, on the cross-sectoral nature of critical development policies
  • Second, achieving GRID implies simultaneously and systematically addressing sustainability, resilience and inclusiveness

GRID is a balanced approach focused on development and sustainability and tailored to each country’s needs and its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) objectives. Such a path will achieve lasting economic growth that is shared across the population, providing a robust recovery and restoring momentum on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Recovering from COVID-19 with GRID

Looking ahead, setting a path to GRID will require urgent investments at scale in all forms of capital (human, physical, natural, and social) to address structural weaknesses and promote growth. 

  • Most urgently, a fast and fair vaccine rollout is critical to an L-shaped recovery. Vaccine access and deployment presents challenges unprecedented in scale, speed and specificities, which will require strong coordination.
  • Special attention is needed on human capital development to rebuild skills and recover pandemic related losses, especially amongst marginalised groups. While the pandemic has amplified the challenges of providing education for all, it has also highlighted how disruptive and transformational technologies can be leveraged in addition to traditional in person learning to help education services withstand the unique pressures of this time.
  • Women must be at the center of the GRID agenda as powerful agents of change. Education for girls, together with family planning, reproductive and sexual health, and economic opportunities for women will accelerate the green, resilient and inclusive dimensions of development.
  • Technology and innovation will play an essential role in promoting low carbon growth. Recovery packages are an opportunity to prioritise investments in the infrastructure needed to develop and roll out transformative technologies.
  • Securing green finance at scale will be essential for the GRID agenda. The low carbon transition may offer an opportunity for investors, especially as the returns to green investments begin to exceed investments in more conventional technological choices.
  • Necessity and urgency of systemic investments and transformations
    • Transformational actions will be needed in key systems — for example, energy, agriculture, food, water, land, cities, transport and manufacturing — that drive the economy and account for over 90 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. 
    • Such a transition, by addressing economic distortions, will promote greater economic efficiency and reduce adverse productivity and health impacts, leading to better development outcomes.
    • Domestic resource mobilisation can also be increased by enhancing tax progressivity, applying wealth taxation, and eliminating tax avoidance. There is also a need for greater selectivity and efficiency in spending.
    • But the fruits of the transition may not be evenly distributed and will require a range of social and labour market policies that address adverse impacts, safeguard the vulnerable and deliver a just transition
    • The GRID approach, therefore, supports a transition to a low carbon economy while considering countries’ energy needs and providing targeted support for the poorest.
  • Significant reforms of fiscal systems will be needed to mobilise domestic resources and finance the transition. Taxes on externalities are a large and unused source of potential revenue, which can create incentives for the private sector to invest in more sustainable activities. Domestic resource mobilisation can also be increased by enhancing tax progressivity, applying wealth taxation, and eliminating tax avoidance. There is also a need for greater selectivity and efficiency in spending.
  • A strong private sector involvement will be needed. The scale of investment needed far exceeds the possibilities of the public sector. Reforms are needed to remove constraints to private investment in appropriate sectors and technologies. 
    • Thus, at the country level, a strong partnership and dialogue between the public and private sector is urgently needed. 
    • And further developing and implementing green financial sector regulation, such as reporting standards and green taxonomies, can help harness investors’ increasing appetite for sustainable investments, which offer both measurable impacts on the environment and society.
  • Multilateral development banks (MDBs) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) must focus on catalytic and transformational investments in priority areas to develop green, inclusive and resilient project pipelines that support economic growth, and job and income generation.

Conclusion

Countries face a historic opportunity to establish a better way forward. Despite the damage wrought by the pandemic, the exceptional crisis response offers a unique opportunity for a “reset” that addresses past policy deficiencies and chronic investment gaps. 

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. By investing now to build a green, resilient and inclusive economy, countries can turn the challenges of COVID-19 and climate change into opportunities for a more prosperous and stable future. Discuss.
  2. Interdependence between climate change and Covid-19 – comment.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements:

  1. Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission appointed by the President of India.
  2. The Commission works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.

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 drug regulator DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India) has granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Single-dose Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine in India. Consider the following statements: 

  1. Sputnik Light is based on recombinant human adenovirus serotype number 26.
  2. It is the world’s first registered combination vector vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19

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 One District One Product Scheme comes under Which of the following Ministry? 

  1. Ministry of Agriculture
  2. Ministry of Commerce & Industry
  3. Ministry of Tribal Affairs
  4. Ministry of Rural development

ANSWERS FOR 7th Feb 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 B

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