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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 10th March 2022

  • IASbaba
  • March 10, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


National Land Monetisation Corporation (NLMC)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy

Context: Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of a new government-owned firm, National Land Monetisation Corporation (NLMC), for pooling and monetising sovereign and public sector land assets.

Key takeaways 

  • The NLMC is being formed with an initial authorised share capital of Rs. 5,000 crore and paid-up capital of Rs. 150 crore.
  • The government will appoint a chairman to head the NLMC through a “merit-based selection process” and hire private sector professionals with expertise.
  • The NLMC will undertake monetisation of surplus land and building assets of Central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) as well as government agencies.
  • The new corporation will also help carry out monetisation of assets belonging to public sector firms that have closed or are lined up for a strategic sale.
  • The government would be able to generate substantial revenues by monetising unused and under-used asset.

News Source: TH


Chandrayaan-2 makes first observations

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Science and technology 

Context:  According to the ISRO, the Chandra’s Atmospheric Composition Explorer-2 (CHACE-2) which is a quadrupole mass spectrometer onboard Chandrayaan-2 mission, has made the first-of-its-kind observations of the global distribution of Argon-40 in the weak lunar exosphere.

Key takeaways 

  • These observations provide insight on the dynamics of the lunar exosphere, and on activities of gases emerging through radioactive decay in the first few tens of metres below the lunar surface.
  • The CHACE-2 observations provide the diurnal and spatial variation of Ar-40 covering the equatorial and mid latitude regions of the Moon.
  • Noble gases serve as important tracers to understand the processes of surface-exosphere interaction.
    • Argon-40 (Ar-40) is an important tracer atom to study the dynamics of the lunar exosphere species.
  • Ar-40 originates from the radioactive disintegration of Potassium-40 (K-40) present below the lunar surface. 
  • Once formed, it diffuses through the inter-granular space and makes its way up to the lunar exosphere through seepages and faults.

Significant observation 

  • NASA’s Apollo-17 and LADEE missions have detected the presence of Ar-40 in the lunar exosphere, confined to the near-equatorial region of the Moon.
  • As there is a steep latitudinal temperature gradient of the lunar surface, it had remained a gap area to study the pan-lunar dynamics of Moon’s exosphere, which is a temperature-driven process. 
  • The observations by CHACE-2 on Ar-40 up to the mid-latitude regions (−60º to +60º) play a significant role to bridge the gap in the knowledge.

Chandrayaan-2

  • It is India’s second mission to the Moon and had failed to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface.
  • The lander and rover malfunctioned in the final moments and crash-landed, getting destroyed in the process.
  • Despite the failure, the mission’s orbiter and other parts have been functioning normally, gathering information.

Do you know?

  • ‘Exosphere’ is the outermost region of the upper atmosphere of a celestial body where the constituent atoms and molecules rarely collide with each other and can escape into space.

News Source: TH


Boltzmann medal

Part of: Prelims 

Context: Mr. Deepak Dhar, physicist, from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, has been selected for the Boltzmann medal. 

  • He is the first Indian to win this award.
  • He shares the award with American scientist John J. Hopfield who is known for his invention of an associative neural network, now named after him.
  • Prof. Dhar has been chosen for this award for his seminal contributions in the field of statistical physics.

Boltzmann medal

  • It is awarded by the Commission on Statistical Physics (C3) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.
  • It was initiated in 1975, with Nobel laureate (1982) K.G. Wilson being the first recipient.
  • The medal honours outstanding achievements in the field of statistical physics.
  • It has been given to one or two persons, once in three years, in the last 47 years.
  • It is given only once to a person and on the condition that that person has not won the Nobel prize so far.

News Source: TH


(News from PIB)


National Digital Tourism Mission

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: Government schemes and policies

Context: Ministry of Tourism had constituted an inter-ministerial task force for National Digital Tourism Mission to undertake consultations with the tourism industry and domain experts, define the context, mission, vision, objectives, and overall scope of the National Digital Tourism Mission.

  • Vision: To bridge the existing information gap amongst different stakeholders of tourism ecosystem through a digital highway.

The Need

  • Envisages to achieve the objective of harnessing the full potential of digitization in tourism sector by facilitating exchange of information and services in tourism sector 
  • Most of the tourism systems developed by Central Government, State Governments, Public sector and Private sector function in silos. As a result, the tourism ecosystem is unable to harvest the combinatorial benefits of information exchange. Data systems currently don’t interact with each other using a common language, thereby curtailing data analytics and resultant policy-making. In order to overcome the same, there is need for seamless standardized data exchange amongst various stakeholders

News Source: PIB


Scientists develop energy-efficient hydrogen production by urea electrolysis

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III: Science and Technology

Context: Indian Scientists have designed an electrocatalyst system for energy-efficient hydrogen production with the help of electrolysis of urea. 

  • The urea electrolysis is helpful towards urea-based waste treatment with low-cost hydrogen production. This can be utilized for energy production towards our country’s benefits.
  • The energy requirement for production of hydrogen through water electrolysis can be reduced by 70 % through urea electrolysis. The energy-intensive counterpart of water splitting, oxygen evolution, can be replaced with urea oxidation in urea electrolysis. 
  • The low-cost, earth-abundant Ni-based catalysts are widely applied for this process. The main challenge associated with urea oxidation is retaining the prolonged activity of the catalyst as the strong adsorption of the reactive intermediate (COx) on the active site, referred to as catalyst poisoning, causes activity loss.

Significance

  • The urea electrolysis is helpful towards urea-based waste treatment with low-cost hydrogen production. India is one of the top countries by urea production, and it produced 244.55 LMT of urea during 2019-20. 
  • The nitrogenous fertilizer industries generate a high concentration of ammonia and urea as effluents. This can be utilized for energy production towards our country’s benefits.

News Source: PIB


MISCELLANEOUS

Report on Unified District Information System for Education plus (UDISE+) 2020-21

  • The UDISE+ system of online data collection from the schools was developed by Department of School Education & Literacy in the year 2018-19 to overcome the issues related to erstwhile practice of manual data filling in paper format and subsequent feeding on computer at the block or district level in the UDISE data collection system since 2012-13.
  • In UDISE+ system, improvements have been made particularly in the areas related to data capture, data mapping and data verification

Read the Report here.

Cabinet Approves –

  1. MoU between the Indian Council of Medical Research, India and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft e.V. (DFG), Germany – Cooperation in the field of medical sciences/health research in areas including Toxicology, Neglected (Tropical) disease, rare diseases and any other areas of mutual interest.
  2. Establishment of WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India: in Jamnagar under the Ministry of AYUSH. This would be the first and only global outposted Centre (office) for traditional medicine across the globe.
  3. MoU between the Indian Council of Medical Research, India and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health of Department of Health and Human Services, USA: Focus on collaboration includes tuberculosis, parasitic infections, HIV/AIDS, Allergic diseases, immune system diseases, other emerging and re-emerging pathogens, and other diseases of shared scientific interest.
  4. Setting up of National Land Monetization Corporation as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for undertaking surplus land monetization: With monetization of non-core assets, Government would be able to generate substantial revenues by monetizing unused and under-used assets.
  5. Amendment of the Second Schedule to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957: For specifying rate of royalty in respect of certain minerals like Glauconite, Potash, Emerald, Platinum Group of Metals (PGM), Andalusite, Sillimanite and Molybdenum.

(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 

UPI123: UPI for Feature Phone

Context: On March 8, the RBI launched a new Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments solution for feature phone users dubbed ‘UPI123Pay’. UPI, which was introduced in 2016, has become one of the most used digital payments platforms in the country. 

  • The volume of UPI transactions has already reached ₹76 lakh crore in the current year, compared to ₹41 lakh crore in FY21.

About UPI

  • It is a common platform through which a person can transfer money from his bank account to any other bank account in the country instantly using nothing but his/her UPI ID.
  • Launched in 2016 as Mobile First digital payments platform
  • Immediate money transfer through mobile device round the clock 24*7 and 365 days based on the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) platform.
  • UPI is completely interoperable and as such, it is unique in the world, where you have an interoperable system on the ‘send’ and ‘receive’ side
  • Developed by: National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) under the guidance from RBI

Significance of UPI

  • It created interoperability between all sources and recipients of funds (consumers, businesses, fintechs, wallets, 140 member banks), 
  • Settled instantly inside the central bank in fiat money – Convenience to consumers and merchants and 
  • Blunted data monopolies -big tech firms have strong autonomy but weak fiduciary responsibilities over customer data).

Challenges of UPI

  • Several structural and technological challenges include cyber-frauds, transaction costs, communication infrastructure, awareness and adoption.
  • Also, at present, efficient access to UPI is available largely via smartphones.

How does the new solution (UPI123) work?

  • The new UPI-based service is designed to bring the digital payments platform closer to a significant number of feature phone mobile subscribers in the country, which is estimated to be more than 40 crores. 
  • Such users could earlier access the digital transactions platform through the USSD based process, using the short code of *99#, which according to RBI is not popular. 
    • USSD-based mobile banking can be used for fund transfers, checking account balance, generating bank statement, among other uses. 
    • The main objective of the innovative *99# payments service is to allow financial inclusion of the underbanked and economically weaker sections of the society, and integrate them into mainstream banking.
  • The USSD-based process is considered cumbersome, with users required to send multiple messages and charged for the same, and not supported by all mobile service providers.
  • With the new UPI123Pay, feature phone users will be required to go through an onboarding process where they have to link their bank account to their feature phone and then set a UPI PIN using their debit card for authenticating transactions. 
  • Once they have completed this initial process, users will be able to use the new UPI facility through one of the four distinct payment options that don’t require an internet connection.

How will users make payments without internet?

  • The UPI123Pay service is a three-step method to initiate and execute services for users, which will work on phones which do not have an option for internet connection. 
  • The new UPI payments system offers users four options to make payments without internet connectivity: 
    • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
    • App-based functionality
    • Missed call facility 
    • Proximity sound-based payments. 
  • Using the IVR option, users would be required to initiate a secured call from their feature phones to a predetermined IVR number and complete UPI on-boarding formalities to be able to start making financial transactions like money transfer, mobile recharge, EMI repayment, balance check, among others.
  • The missed call facility will allow users to access their bank account and perform routine transactions such as receiving, transferring funds, regular purchases, bill payments, etc., by giving a missed call on the number displayed at the merchant outlet. The customer will receive an incoming call to authenticate the transaction by entering UPI PIN.
  • They could also install an app on their feature phone through which several UPI functions, available on smartphones, will be available on their feature phone, except scan and pay feature which is currently not available.
  • Finally, they could utilise the proximity sound-based payments option, which uses sound waves to enable contactless, offline, and proximity data communication on any device.
  • Users will be able to make payments to their friends and family, pay their utility bills, recharge FASTags, pay mobile bills and also check their account balances,

Do other countries have something similar?

  • Mobile payment systems that do not rely on internet connectivity like the ones based on USSD or SMS technology were introduced many years ago and are still being used in some developing countries.
  • In fact, one of the major mobile payment systems globally was introduced by Vodafone’s Kenyan associate, Safaricom in 2007. 
  • M-PESA, which is Africa’s leading mobile money service, operates across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania, with 51 million customers making over $314 billion in transactions per year through the service, according to Vodafone.

Conclusion

The launch of UPI123Pay makes facilities under UPI accessible to that section of society which was so far been excluded from the digital payments landscape. In that way, it is promoting great amount of financial inclusion in our economy.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL

  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

Clear signals: On India-China ties and the new global currents

Key takeaway: India and China must take on board global currents that could reshape ties.

China’s Claim

China’s claim that the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy is aiming to create “an Indo-Pacific version of NATO” is not new. 

  • Indeed, even as long as 15 years ago, during the first iteration of the now revived India, Australia, Japan, U.S. Quad, Beijing warned of an impending “Asian NATO”, which, of course, never materialised. The latest statement does, however, assume significance in the current global context and amid the crisis in Ukraine. 
  • China accused the U.S. of “stoking geopolitical rivalry” by “forming exclusive clubs”. By “strengthening the Five Eyes” intelligence alliance and “peddling the Quad, piecing together AUKUS and tightening bilateral military alliances”, the U.S. is leading a “five-four-three-two” formation in the region. 
  • The broader goal, China thinks is “to establish an Indo-Pacific version of NATO”.

China’s current relations with Russia

  • Beijing has repeatedly blamed NATO for the crisis in Ukraine.
  • While claiming to stay neutral, it has moved to reaffirm ties with Russia, which Beijing described as “rock solid”. 
  • When the two countries’ leaders met for a summit on February 4, China backed Russia on its concerns on NATO’s eastward expansion in Europe, and Russia returned the favour with both criticising the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy. 
  • Beyond their already deep political and economic linkages, these mirrored concerns on U.S. alliances are emerging as a powerful binding glue in the China-Russia axis. 

India’s Stand

On relations with Russia

  • New Delhi will need to consider how this will impact its close relations with Russia. 
  • India has abstained on a US-sponsored UN Security Council resolution that deplores Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, with New Delhi saying dialogue is the only answer to settling differences and disputes.

On relations with USA

  • By explicitly equating the Quad, which is not a military pact, with other security agreements, China now also appears to be clearly situating India as a part of the U.S. “exclusive club”. New Delhi has rejected that notion. Only last month, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said “interested parties” were making a “lazy analogy of an Asian NATO” and India was not a U.S. treaty ally. 
  • Indeed, some in New Delhi have come to view Beijing’s aggressive moves along the LAC in 2020 as a warning sign to deter India-U.S. relations. India’s firm, and correct, response has been to hold the line, and continue deepening ties not only with the U.S. and the Quad but also other Indo-Pacific partners to underline it will not be swayed. 

On relations with China

  • The other message from India has been that sensitivity to concerns has to be mutual, and cannot be demanded from one side when ignored by the other; China’s relations with Pakistan being a case in point. 
  • China has acknowledge that recent “setbacks” in ties suited neither India nor China — a view New Delhi shares. 
  • The two sides will meet on March 11 for the next round of military talks to take forward LAC disengagement. 

Conclusion

As India and China continue to seek a much-needed modus vivendi to restore ties from the lowest point in decades and ensure peace on the border, they will also need to have a broader conversation about global currents that are reshaping their bilateral relations.

Connecting the dots:


(SANSAD TV: Today in History)


Jan 3: Savitribai Phule – https://youtu.be/bSGTdvU0rUA 

TOPIC:

  • GS-1: Modern History, Society

Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule, the social reformer who is considered to be one of India’s first modern feminists, was born on January 3, 1831. 

  • A revolutionary Indian woman who began the mission to educate women in India.
  • She relentlessly fought against the dominant caste system and worked towards the upliftment of the marginalized.

Early Life and Work

Savitribai went on to become India’s first woman teacher and headmistress. It is her struggle and story that marks the beginning of modern Indian women’s public life in India.

  • The extraordinary couple (married to Jyotirao) was engaged in a passionate struggle to build a movement for equality between men and women and a fight against the caste system. They dedicated their lives to spreading education and knowledge. They started the first school in the country for girls and the ‘Native Library’. 
  • In 1863, they started a ‘home for the prevention of infanticide’ in their own house, to ensure the safety of pregnant and exploited widows. 
  • They also established the Satyashodhak Samaj (Society for Truth Seeking), initiating the practice of marriage without dowry or overt expenses. Satyashodhak Samaj was founded with a purpose to give education to the lower castes, scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and made them aware of the exploiting tradition of society.
  • They were against child marriage and supported widow remarriages. 
  • They had no children of their own but adopted a child of a Brahmin widow, educating him and arranging an inter-caste marriage for him.

Struggles she faced

On teaching women

  • Savitribai’s struggle was fraught with many difficulties and despite that she continued her work peacefully. Men would purposely wait in the streets and pass lewd remarks. They sometimes pelted stones and threw cow dung or mud. 
  • Savitribai would carry two saris when she went to school, changing out of the soiled sari once she reached school, which would again be soiled on her way back, and yet, she did not give up.
  • The guard who was then appointed for her, wrote in his memoirs about what she would say to those men, “As I do the sacred task of teaching my fellow sisters, the stones or cow dung that you throw seem like flowers to me. May God bless you!”

When Jyotirao passed away

  • When Jyotirao passed away, he could not be buried with salt covering his body as he had wished. 
  • He was burnt on the pyre and it was Savitribai who courageously came forward and held the earthen pot (it is supposed to be carried by the successor of the deceased). She led the final journey of Jyotirao and consigned his body to the flames. 
  • In the history of India, this was probably the first time a woman had performed death rites
  • She also erected a ‘Tulsi Vrindavan’ with his ashes on the spot where Jyotirao wanted to be buried. 
  • After Jyotirao’s demise, Savitribai led the Satyashodhak movement till the very end. She was the chairperson of the Satyashodhak Conference held in 1893 at Saswad, Pune.

Death

  • The year 1897 dawned with the menace of plague. People were dying in hundreds daily in Pune. 
  • The government tried to control the epidemic under the leadership of officer Rand
  • Savitribai along with Yeshwant set up a hospital to take care of the patients. 
  • She would herself pick up sick people and bring them to the hospital and treat them. Even though she knew that the disease was contagious, she continued to serve them till the plague took her own life.

One of her most loved and valued poems:

Go, Get Education
Be self-reliant, be industrious
Work—gather wisdom and riches,
All gets lost without knowledge
We become animal without wisdom,
Sit idle no more, go, get education
End misery of the oppressed and forsaken,
You’ve got a golden chance to learn
So learn and break the chains of caste.
Throw away the Brahman’s scriptures fast.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. What are the main factors responsible for gender responsibility in India? Discuss the contribution of Savitribai Phule in this regard.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding National Land Monetisation Corporation (NLMC):

  1. NLMC will be headed by a chairman who will be selected through a merit-based selection process.
  2. The NLMC will undertake monetisation of surplus land and building assets of Central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) and government agencies.

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 WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India was recently established which is going to be the first and only global outposted Centre (office) for traditional medicine across the globe. Where was this centre established?

  1. Mumbai 
  2. Jamnagar 
  3. Bhopal 
  4. Bhubaneswar 

Q.3 Mr. Deepak Dhar is the first Indian to be selected for Boltzmann medal. Boltzmann medal is associated with which of the following?

  1. Aeronautics
  2. Gene therapy
  3. Statistical physics
  4. Biochemistry

ANSWERS FOR 10th March 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 B
3 C

Must Read

On Ukraine- Russia talks:

The Hindu

On Water management:

The Hindu

On medical Education in India:

Indian Express

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