DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd March 2022

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  • March 22, 2022
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Part of: Prelims and GS II – International Relations

Context: Despite several rounds of talks between the representatives of the Russia and Ukraine, it remains unclear when and how the war might end. 


  • Russia invoked the threat of Ukraine joining NATO as a pretext for the invasion. 
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has now acknowledged that his country will not be part of the US-led military alliance in the foreseeable future.

Finlandization model

  • Among the scenarios that have been seen as potentially workable is the “Finlandization” of Ukraine.
  • It was proposed earlier in 2014, the year Russia annexed Crimea and fighting broke out in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
  • ‘Finlandization’ refers to the policy of strict neutrality between Moscow and the West that Finland followed during the decades of the Cold War. 
    • The principle of neutrality was rooted in the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance that Finland signed with the USSR in April 1948.
    • Finland’s capital Helsinki is situated just across the Gulf of Finland from St Petersburg (Leningrad).
    • The treaty protected it from being attacked or incorporated into the USSR like the Baltic and eastern European states. 
    • It allowed the country to pursue the path of democracy and capitalism while staying out of the conflict between the great powers.
    • It took neutral positions on matters on which the Soviet Union and the West disagreed. 
    • It stayed aloof from NATO and European military powers, and used this positioning to ward off pressure from Moscow to become part of the Soviet bloc or the Warsaw Pact.

Ukraine and Finlandization

  • If Ukraine undergoes this model, following outcomes may be relevant:
    • Ukraine should have the right to freely choose its economic and political associations, including with Europe.
    • Ukraine should not join NATO, to avoid further invasion and attacks.
    • Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people.
  • Wise Ukrainian leaders may then opt for a policy of reconciliation between the various parts of their country.
  • Internationally, they should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland. 
    • Finland leaves no doubt about its fierce independence and cooperates with the West in most fields but carefully avoids institutional hostility toward Russia.

News Source: IE

Padma awards

Part of: Prelims 

Context: India’s first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, who died in a chopper crash in Tamil Nadu last year, political leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran, former Comptroller & Auditor General Rajiv Mehrishi and late Radheshyam Khemka were among 54 prominent personalities who were conferred the Padma awards by the President of India.

  • Total 128 awards were presented in the ceremony.

About Padma Awards

  • The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day. 
  • The Awards are given in three categories: 
    • Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service).
    • Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order) and 
    • Padma Shri (distinguished service).
  • It was instituted in 1954.
  • All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.
  • The awards are presented by the President of India. 
  • The Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
  • The Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members. 
  • The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.

News Source: TH

(News from PIB)

New India Literacy Programme (NILP)

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: Government schemes and policies related to Education

Aim: To support the States and Union Territories in promoting literacy among non-literates in the age group of 15 and above, across the country covering 5 crore non-literates 


  1. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
  2. Critical Life Skills
  3. Vocational Skills Development
  4. Basic Education
  5. Continuing Education

The salient features of the NILP are

  • Involvement of school students, pre-service students of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), school teachers, Anganwadi and ASHA workers, NYKS, NSS, NCC volunteers
  • School to be unit for implementation of the scheme
  • Use of ICT and online implementation of the scheme through ‘Online Teaching Learning and Assessment System’ (OTLAS)
  • Material and resources through digital modes, viz, TV, radio, cell phone-based free/open-source Apps/portals, etc.
  • Assessment tests to be conducted in schools by State/UTs and evaluation of learners by NIOS/SIOS; assessment on demand through OTLAS and generation of e-certificates
  • Sample achievement survey
  • Online MIS

News Source: PIB

National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat)

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: Government schemes and policies related to Education

Aims to achieve universal foundational literacy and numeracy in primary classes and to ensure that all children attain grade level competencies in reading, writing and numeracy.

  • Lays down priorities and actionable agendas for States/UTs to achieve the goal of proficiency in foundational literacy and numeracy for every child by grade 3.
  • Detailed guidelines have been developed for implementation of the NIPUN Bharat Mission which includes the Lakshya or Targets for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy starting from the Balvatika upto age group 9. 

News Source: PIB

Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) as a sub-scheme of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U)

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

Context: The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has launched Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) as a sub-scheme of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U) to provide dignified living to urban migrants/ poor near their workplace. This scheme is being implemented through two models as under:

  • Model-1: Utilizing existing Government funded vacant houses constructed under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) and Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) to convert into ARHCs through Public Private Partnership (PPP) or by Public Agencies;
  • Model-2: Construction, Operation & Maintenance of ARHCs by Public/ Private Entities on their own available vacant land.

As per scheme guidelines, affordable rent of ARHCs is fixed by the local authority based on a local survey.

News Source: PIB


Declining Parsi Population in the Country: As per the Census data available with this Ministry, the population of Parsi (Zoroastrian) community decreased from 69,601 in the Census 2001 to 57,264 in the Census 2011. Ministry of Minority Affairs implements Jiyo Parsi Scheme to contain the population decline of Parsis in India. The Jiyo Parsi scheme adopts a scientific protocol and structured interventions to stabilize Parsi population. So far, 359 babies have been born with the assistance under this Scheme.

  • Advocacy – includes counseling of couples with fertility, marriage, family and elderly counseling including workshops on relationship management, parenting, drug awareness etc.
  • Health of Community-to provide financial assistance to Parsi parents to meet the expenses towards creche/child care, assistance to elderly etc. 
  • Medical Assistance– includes financial assistance for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) which also includes In-vitro Fertilization and Intra Cytoplasmic Injection (ICS) and other modes including surrogacy.

Nai Roshni Scheme for Leadership Development of Minority Women: Nai Roshni scheme aims to empower and enhance confidence in Minority women by providing knowledge, tool and techniques for Leadership Development of Women.   

  • It is a six-day non-residential/five-days residential training programme conducted for the women belonging to minority community between the age group of 18 years to 65 years. 
  • The training modules cover areas related to Programmes for women, Health and Hygiene, Legal rights of women, Financial Literacy, Digital Literacy, Swachch Bharat, Life Skills, and Advocacy for Social and Behavioural changes.

Various steps have been taken to reduce import of Crude Oil: The production of crude oil till February 2022 has been 28.51 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) against the target of 31.80MMT during current financial year. The decline in production of crude oil in recent years has been due to natural decline and increase in water cut in wells of matured fields.

Various steps have been taken to reduce import of Crude Oil –

  • Demand substitution by promoting usage of natural gas as fuel/feedstock across the country towards increasing the share of natural gas in economy and moving towards gas based economy
  • Promotion of renewable and alternate fuels like ethanol, second generation ethanol, compressed bio gas and biodiesel
  • Refinery process improvements
  • Promoting energy efficiency and conservation
  • Efforts for increasing production of oil and natural gas through various policies under Production Sharing Contract (PSC) regime, Discovered Small Field Policy, Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy, etc.
  • Government has also provided functional freedom to National Oil Companies and for wider private sector participation by streamlining approval processes including electronic single window mechanism
  • To give a major thrust to Ethanol Blending Programme, Government of India through Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) are establishing 2G Ethanol plants across the country.
  • For promoting the use of Compressed Bio Gas (CBG) as automotive fuel, Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) initiative has been launched under which oil Marketing Companies are inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential entrepreneurs to produce CBG.

(Mains Focus)


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

Finding Unemployment Benefits

Context: Even before COVID-19, the unemployment rate touched a peak in 2017-18 at 6.1%.

  • As per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the average urban unemployment rate remained higher at 9.04% in 2021 and above 7% in January-February 2022. 
  • Meanwhile, the rural unemployment rate rose to 8.35% in February 2022 after mild fluctuations around 5-7% since June 2021 (8.75%). 

Does a satisfactory system of unemployment relief exist? 

Unlike in China, the labour laws do not expressly provide for unemployment benefits. However, India does have various initiatives that provides unemployment relief

  1. Employees’ State Insurance Act (ESIA), 1948
  • Under the said act, the Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana (RGSKY) provides unemployment allowance to involuntarily unemployed insured persons who have made contributions for two years to ESI. 
  • The cash relief is at the rate of 50% of the last average daily wages for the first 12 months and 25% for the next 12 months. 
  • It covers unemployment due to retrenchment, closure or permanent invalidity. 
  • It provides medical care during unemployment tenure and vocational training. 
  1. Atal Beemit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana (ABVKY)
  • It was introduced in 2018 under which unemployed insured persons are provided allowance at the rate of 50% of the average per day earning of the claimant.
  • Allowance is provided for 90 days.
  • It was launched on pilot basis for two years but was extended during the COVID-19 period.
  1. Industrial Disputes Act (IDA), 1947
  • Industrial establishments employing 100 or more workers must pay retrenchment compensation of 15 days of average pay for the completed years of service to workers in case of they lose jobs due to closure.
  • Here, the burden of unemployment allowance is transferred to the employer. Employment-intensive industries like construction and services are excluded. 
  1. Social Security Code (SSC), 2020
  • Though SSC included unemployment protection in its definition of ‘social security’, it did not provide for a scheme for the same.
  • Government reasoned that Unemployment allowance is already provided for under the ESI Act and hence no need of separate scheme.
  • The SSC offers the vague promise of schemes to the unorganised workers.

Have the above schemes been successful?

  • ESIA, despite a more inclusive coverage of 10 or more workers than the Employees’ Provident Fund Act (20 or more workers), covers fewer workers due to its limited and slow expansion of districts in India. 
  • Under the RGSKY, 0.043% (13,341/3,09,66,930) of the employees availed of unemployment allowance during 2007-08 to 2019-20
  • Further, unemployment allowance’s share in total cash expenditure of ESIC ranged from 0.25% to 0.99%. The incredibly low off-take means that RGSKY is not successful.
  • Under ABVKY, from July 1, 2018 to March 31, 2020, 120 claims were made, which means a meagre average daily cash relief of ₹73.33. 

What alternative measures can be taken?

  • The SSC must be amended to provide for a universal unemployment allowance scheme with tripartite contributions by employers, workers and the government. 
  • An urban employment guarantee scheme should be framed to alleviate the sufferings of workers in the urban labour market. 
  • Laws and welfare schemes must offer relief to marginalised workers who are reeling under multiple blows. 

Connecting the dots:


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

India and Israel, the maturing of a steady relationship

Context: Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will visit India starting April 2 to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

  • Israel opened its embassy in New Delhi on February 1, 1992. The Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv opened on May 15, 1992.

History of India-Israel relationship

  • India had recognised Israel as far back as 1950 but normalisation took another four decades.
  • India was reluctant about its ties with Israel as 
    • India balanced this with its historical support for the Palestinian cause, 
    • India’s dependence on the Arab world for oil, 
    • Pro-Palestinian sentiments of the country’s Muslim citizens.
  • From 1992, the relationship took a different role where there were defence deals, and co-operation in science, technology and agriculture
  • The first high-level visits took place only after the NDA-1 under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took office. In 2000, L K Advani became the first Indian minister to visit Israel. That year, the two countries set up a joint anti-terror commission.
  • In 2003, Ariel Sharon became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India.
  • PM Modi’s visit to Israel in 2017 was the first by an Indian Prime Minister, and with that, he took full ownership of a relationship that had mostly grown under the radar for over a quarter century.
  • With the 2020 Abrahamic Accords that saw the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco normalising relations with Israel, and India’s own newly strengthened ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, India is now more confident about its key relationships in West Asia than at any other time.

How has India’s relationship with Palestine evolved over the years?

  • Earlier, the relationship with Palestine was almost an article of faith in Indian foreign policy for over four decades. 
  • India backed the Palestinian right to self-determination and rallied behind the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its leader Yasser Arafat 
  • In 1975, India invited PLO to open an office in Delhi, giving it diplomatic status five years later. 
  • In 1988, when the PLO declared an independent state of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, India granted recognition immediately. 
  • During the UPA’s 10 years in office, Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority that administers the West Bank, visited four times — in 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2012.
  • India voted for Palestine to become a full member of UNESCO in 2011.
  • In 2012, India co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution that enabled Palestine to become a “non-member” observer state at the UN without voting rights.
  • India also supported the installation of the Palestinian flag on the UN premises in September 2015, a year after Modi became Prime Minister.
  • In 2021 UN Security Council discussion on the Israel-Palestine violence India’s statement virtually held Israel responsible for the violence, and expressed India’s “strong” support to the “just Palestinian cause” and “unwavering” support for the two-state solution.
  • At the UNHRC’s 46th session in Geneva earlier in 2021, India voted against Israel in three resolutions – 
    • on the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people; 
    • on Israeli settlement policy; and 
    • on the human rights situation in the Golan Heights.

Has there been any shift in India-Palestine relationship?

  • The growing relationship between India and Israel has eroded what once used to be New Delhi’s unequivocal support for the Palestinian cause
  • The first big shift in India’s policy came during the visit of Mahmoud Abbas in 2017 when India in a statement dropped the customary line in support of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. 
  • When Modi visited Israel, his itinerary did not include Ramallah, as had been the practice by other visiting dignitaries.
    • But the balancing act continued. Modi made a separate visit to Ramallah in February 2018, and called for an independent Palestinian state.


India continues to walk a tightrope between its historical ties with Palestine and its more recent affection for Israel.

Connecting the dots:

(Down to Earth: Climate Change)

March 21: International Day of Forests: Can India shift from a ‘plantation’ mindset to an ‘eco restoration’ onehttps://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/forests/international-day-of-forests-can-india-shift-from-a-plantation-mindset-to-an-eco-restoration-one-82005 


  • GS-3: Environment, Conservation, Climate Change

International Day of Forests: Can India shift from a ‘plantation’ mindset to an ‘eco restoration’ one

Context: The United Nations proclaimed March 21 as the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012. This year marks a decade of IDF. 

  • The day celebrates and raises awareness about the importance of all types of forests.
  • Theme for 2022: ‘Forests and sustainable production and consumption’

India’s forests

  • The country has 307,120 square kilometres of forest in the open category, which increased by 4,203 sq km in the last two years, according to India’s State of Forest Report 2021.
  • Add scrub land (46,539 sq km) to this and the total becomes 353,659 sq km, constituting 10.76 per cent of degraded forest and scrub land in India. 
  • If we consider only forest area, it is 43.03 per cent.

The Green India Mission (GIM) was launched way back in 2010, with three-fold objectives:

  • Double the area to be taken up for afforestation / eco-restoration in India in the next 10 years
  • Increase the greenhouse gas removals by India’s forests to 6.35 per cent by increasing forest biomass in 10 million hectares (mha), thus achieving carbon sequestration of 43 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually
  • Enhance the resilience of forests / ecosystems.

India’s Working Plan Code 2014 majorly focuses on how some timber-producing trees need tendering and felling / working. It signifies the working of coupes (a forest area wherein felling and silviculture operations are done in a 20-year cycle), but fails to bring in an ecosystem approach in planning and execution.

Somewhere, we have missed the bus without proper alignment between these two government documents in letter and spirit.

India’s forest management needs a paradigm shift from ‘working’ to ‘managing’ them for the country’s future prosperity and to take care of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services they provide.

  • Rising temperatures and changing monsoon rainfall patterns from climate change could cost India 2.8 per cent of its gross domestic Product and depress the living standards of nearly half the country’s population by 2050, according to a World Bank report.
  • The report further cautions that by 2050, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will be in the red. The water catchments of this region and the permanence of the river systems and aquifer recharge is directly dependent on health of forests.
  • Open forests in the states of MP, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra account for 74,295 sq km. 
  • Forest restoration is a must for water security. The Union Ministry of Jal Shakti launch of a plan to plant trees along 13 rivers at a cost Rs 19,000 crore is laudable.

The Way Forward

  • Back the indigenous communities that have defended their forest homes for generations, without meaningful support or recognition and often in the face of chronic danger. Territorial rights of Indigenous peoples must be recognized, protected forest areas expanded and roads and industry avoided in still intact forests. These steps can set the stage for more sustainable forest economies.
  • India would do well to set up an ambitious goal of first retaining and then increasing its forest cover. Protecting tropical forests can secure seven to 10 times as much carbon through 2050 as replanting forests. Saving the trees can also ease the crisis of species extinction. And protecting these forests is crucial to maintaining the homes and ways of life of thousands of forest cultures.
  • A forest policy should be a broad vision taking into account the varied political, socioeconomic, and ecological contexts of the country. Adequate finance along with public-private partnership can propel the efforts towards restoration of the planned interventions. Active engagement of stakeholders and an inclusive approach can turn the table. We need to also properly word our goals. The use of proper vocabulary changes the vision.
  • Selection of Species: Forest department select those that are non-palatable, have good coppicing (ability to grow new shoots from stumps) power even after getting browsed, are less water-demanding and are fire-resistant, usually for afforestation. They prefer such species even if they are Invasive Alien Species (popularly known as IAS). There is a need to warn and change this practice as it may change the floral / faunal composition and ecology of the forest in the future.


Forest Survey Report 2021

Forest Conservation Act & Proposed Amendments 

Forest Restoration in the Net Zero Race

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Forestry and forest management in India stand at a crossroads. Do you agree? Critically examine.


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding New India Literacy Programme (NILP) :

  1. It includes Involvement of school students, pre-service students of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), school teachers, Anganwadi and ASHA workers, NYKS, NSS, NCC volunteers
  2. School will be a unit for implementation of the scheme.

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 Which of the following is not true about Padma Awards?

  1. It was instituted in 1954.
  2. All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.
  3. The awards are presented by the Prime Minister of India. 
  4. The Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. 

Q.3 The principle of neutrality under ‘Finlandization’ was rooted in the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance that Finland signed with which of the following in April 1948?

  1. USSR
  2. Germany
  3. USA
  4. Britain


1 C
2 C
3 A

Must Read

On Ukraine peace plan:

The Hindu

On India-Australia relationship:

The Hindu

On how US needs to reorient its South Asia Policy:

Indian Express

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