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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 8th March 2022

  • IASbaba
  • March 8, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Scheme

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Policies and interventions

Context: The Union Labour and Employment Ministry launched the “donate a pension” scheme allowing any citizen to pay the premium amount on behalf of an unorganised worker under the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Scheme.

Key takeaways 

  • “Donate a pension” scheme allows a citizen to “donate the premium contribution of their immediate support staff such as domestic workers, drivers, helpers, care givers, nurses, in their household or establishment.
  • The donor can pay the contribution for a minimum of one year, with the amount ranging from Rs. 660 to Rs. 2,400 a year, depending on the age of the beneficiary.

About Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Scheme

  • The pension scheme was launched in 2019.
  • It allows unorganised sector workers between the age of 18 and 40, who earn up to Rs. 15,000 a month, to enroll by paying a premium amount between Rs. 55 and Rs. 200, depending on the age, that would be matched by the government.
  • On reaching the age of 60, the beneficiaries would get a Rs. 3,000 monthly pension.

News Source: TH


SAMARTH initiative for women

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Policies and interventions 

Context: Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, (MSME) recently launched a Special Entrepreneurship Promotion Drive for Women – “SAMARTH” on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2022 which is celebrated on 8th March every year.

Key takeaways 

  • Through this initiative, the Ministry is focusing on providing Skill Development and Market Development Assistance to women
  • Under the Samarth initiative, 20% seats in free Skill Development Programs organized under skill development schemes of the Ministry will be allocated for Women. 
  • More than 7,500 women will be benefitted. 
  • 20% of MSME Business Delegations sent to domestic and international exhibitions under the schemes for Marketing Assistance will be dedicated to women owned MSMEs.
  • The ministry is also continuously making efforts to develop entrepreneurship culture among women by offering several additional benefits for women in various schemes implemented by the Ministry.  

News Source: Newsonair


India-Sri Lanka Naval Exercise SLINEX

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

Context: The ninth edition of India-Sri Lanka Naval Exercise, SLINEX, has begun at Visakhapatnam from 7th March 2022. 

  • SLINEX aims at enhancing interoperability, improving mutual understanding and exchanging best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies.
  • The exercise is being conducted in two phases.
  • The Sri Lanka Navy will be represented by SLNS Sayurala, an advanced offshore patrol vessel.
  • The Indian Navy will be represented by INS Kirch, a guided missile corvette. 

News Source: Newsonair


(News from PIB)


Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA): Between India and Bangladesh

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: India’s relation with neighbours

Context: India is looking to advance the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Bangladesh.

Four focus areas for strengthening India-Bangladesh relationship:

  • Uninterrupted Supply chain is need of the hour: As H.E. Sheikh Hasina said, “Connectivity is productivity”; despite COVID-19, we maintained uninterrupted supply chain between the two countries. Also improving this connectivity further is imperative for expansion of our bilateral trade and realisation of the investment potential of Bangladesh and eastern India.
  • Need to give more impetus to Joint Production of Defence Equipment: Our defence cooperation has not progressed, though India offered USD 500 mn line of credit. 
  • Explore potential areas of investments, like Textiles, Jute products, Leather & Footwear, APIs for Pharmaceuticals, Medical Equipment, Digital Health & Education Services, Agribusiness, Electronics, Renewable Energy, etc.
  • India and Bangladesh can become ‘Pharmacy of the world’: During COVID-19, vaccines produced in India, – Covaxin & Covishield created a niche for themselves as safe vaccines. Time has now come for joint manufacturing of vaccines and other medicines!

NOTE: Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia.

Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)

  • A free trade agreement between two countries
  • Covers negotiation on the trade in services and investment, and other areas of economic partnership such as trade facilitation and customs cooperation, competition, and Intellectual Property Rights.
  • CEPA also looks into the regulatory aspect of trade and encompasses an agreement covering the regulatory issues.

News Source: PIB


Science behind the jets of plasma

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

In News: Scientists have unravelled the science behind the jets of plasma – the fourth state of matter consisting of electrically charged particles that occur just about everywhere in the sun’s chromosphere, which is the atmospheric layer just above the Sun’s visible surface.

  • These jets, or spicules, appear as thin grass-like plasma structures that constantly shoot up from the surface and are then brought down by gravity. 
  • The amount of energy and momentum that these spicules can carry is of fundamental interest in solar and plasma astrophysics. 
  • The processes by which plasma is supplied to the solar wind, and the solar atmosphere is heated to a million degrees Celsius, still remain a puzzle.
  • The plasma right below the visible solar surface (photosphere) is perpetually in a state of convection, much like boiling water in a vessel heated at the bottom. This is ultimately powered by the nuclear energy released in the hot-dense core. 
  • The convection serves almost periodic but strong kicks to the plasma in the solar chromosphere, the shallow semi-transparent layer right above the visible solar disk. The chromosphere is 500 times lighter than the plasma in the photosphere. Therefore, these strong kicks from the bottom, not unlike alligator bellowing, shoot the chromospheric plasma outward at ultrasonic speeds in the form of thin columns or spicules.
  • Spicules come in all sizes and speeds. The existing consensus in the solar community has been that the physics behind the short spicules is different from that of taller and faster spicules.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


WOMEN/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-1: Society; Women Empowerment
  • GS-2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

Working women too, with a dream of good childcare

Context: The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 (March 8) is ‘gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’. 

Gender equality is still a far cry for India’s female informal workforce. 

  • According to a 2018 study by the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than 95% of India’s working women are informal workers who work in labour-intensive, low-paying, highly precarious job conditions, and with no social protection. 
  • WHO says that “women’s informal work is central to the feminisation of poverty”
  • The benefits under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 are mostly enjoyed by formal sector women workers, constituting less than 5% of the women workforce. 
    • The act provides for paid maternity leave for women employees to 26 weeks.
    • It made crèche facilities mandatory for establishments employing 50 or more women. 
  • Lack of access to quality childcare services forces women workers to leave the labour force which stops their earning and exposes them to significant economic risks. This can aggravate gender and class inequalities. 

Here are three ways to enable women to take up more productive paid work and improve their maternal and child health outcomes:

  1. Expansion of the ICDS
    • The primary mandate of the Anganwadi centres under the ICDS is to provide maternal and child nutritional security, a clean and safe environment, and early childhood education, thus facilitating the ability of women to re-enter work post-childbirth.
    • However, ICDS has two major limitations. 
    • First, it does not cater to children under the age of three. 
    • Second, it functions only for a few hours a day, making it inconvenient to send and pick up children during work hours 
    • Early intake of children & extending the hours of Anganwadi centres can have dual benefits — allow mothers time for paid work and converge with the National Education Policy 2020 of providing Early Childhood Care and Education for children in the 0-6 age group
    • However, these expansions would also require expanding the care worker infrastructure, especially the Anganwadi worker and helper, who are already overburdened and underpaid. 
  1. Revitalise the crèche scheme 
    • The scheme has suffered diminished government funding. 
    • Public crèches can be operated at worksite clusters such as near industrial areas, markets, dense low-income residential areas, and labour nakas
    • Crèches closer to the workplace allow for timely breastfeeding and attending to emergencies
    • The funds collected under the construction cess can be earmarked for running crèches at construction sites. 
  1. Improving maternity benefits. 
    • Women in informal employment did not have maternity benefits until the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, entitled pregnant and lactating mothers to a cash transfer of at least ₹6,000.
    • However, the scheme notified for this purpose, the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) limits the benefit to the first birth and has also reduced the amount to ₹5,000. 
    • This amount under PMMVY does not match an inflation-adjusted NFSA benchmark (nearly ₹9,400 in 2022). 
    • Various states have tried to bridge the coverage gap with their own scheme. Tamil Nadu has an expansive and ambitious scheme offering ₹18,000 in cash and kind for two live births. 

Conclusion

  • It is imperative that we consider affordable and quality childcare infrastructure as an employment-linked benefit and as a public good. 

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ INTERNATIONAL

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

Rising Oil Prices and Stagflation

Context: Crude oil prices soared and touched almost $140 per barrel mark, which was around $70 a barrel in December

What is the main reason for increase in oil prices?

  • The most immediate trigger for the spike is the decision by USA to ban the purchase of Russian oil in response to the invasion of Ukraine. 
  • Russia is the world’s second-largest oil producer and, as such, if its oil is kept out of the market because of sanctions, it will not only lead to prices spiking, but also mean they will stay that way for long.

How will India be affected due to rising Oil Prices?

  • While India is not directly involved in the conflict, it will be badly affected if oil prices move higher and stay that way.
  • India imports more than 84% of its total oil demand and increase in oil prices is going to increase our import bill further widening the Current Account Deficit.
  • Rise in crude oil prices will lead to increase in Prices of Petrol & Diesel, if the government doesn’t cut its taxes.
  • Higher petro & diesel prices will further increase inflation and raise the general price level (due to increase in transportation costs). A 10% increase in crude oil prices raises wholesale inflation by 0.9% and retail inflation by 0.5%. 
  • Higher inflation would rob Indians of their purchasing power, thus bringing down their overall demand.
  • Private consumer demand is the biggest driver of growth in India, accounts for more than 55% of India’s total GDP.
  • Currently, the biggest concern in India’s GDP growth story is the weak consumer demand. Higher prices will further weaken the demand & hurt our economic recovery prospects.
    • Analysts have been revising their forecasts for India — down for growth (7.9% to 7.7%) and up for inflation (5.8% to 6.3%).
  • Also, fewer goods and services being demanded will then disincentivise businesses from investing in new capacities, which, in turn, will exacerbate the unemployment crisis and lead to even lower incomes.
  • One big fear is that such a sudden and sharp spike in oil prices may push a relatively vulnerable economy like India into stagflation.

What is stagflation?

  • Stagflation is an economic condition of stagnant growth and persistently high inflation. 
  • Typically, rising inflation happens when an economy is booming — people are earning lots of money, demanding lots of goods and services and as a result, prices keep going up. 
  • When the demand is down by the reverse logic, prices tend to stagnate (or even fall).
  • But stagflation is a condition where an economy experiences the worst of both worlds — the growth rate is largely stagnant (along with rising unemployment) and inflation is not only high but persistently so.
  • The best-known case of stagflation is what happened in the early and mid-1970s. The OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries), which works like a cartel, decided to cut crude oil supply. This sent oil prices soaring across the world; they were up by almost 70%.
  • This sudden oil price shock not only raised inflation everywhere, especially in the western economies but also constrained their ability to produce, thus hampering their economic growth. 

Is there a threat of stagflation in India due to rising Oil Prices?

  • It cannot be denied that if oil prices stay high and for long, the inflation situation will worsen considerably and this would be coming after two years of already raised prices and reduced incomes.
  • The other requirement is stalling growth and one of the indicator is unemployment. India is facing the most acute unemployment crisis it has seen in the past five decades
  • So, yes, unlikely as it may be, it can be argued that we could be looking at stagflation in the near future.

Conclusion


(SANSAD TV: Perspective)


March 4: No Wild, No Life- https://youtu.be/OT8re5N-B4g  

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Environment, Conservation, Climate Change

No Wild, No Life

Context: Humans rely on wildlife and biodiversity-based resources to meet all our needs from food to fuel, medicines, housing, and clothing. Millions of people are also dependent on nature as the source of their livelihoods and economic opportunities. 

  • According to data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, over 8,400 species of wild fauna and flora are critically endangered, while close to 30,000 more are understood to be endangered or vulnerable. 
  • As per this data 239 faunal species which are known to occur in India are classified as endangered species which includes 45 species of mammals, 23 species of birds, 18 species of reptiles, 39 species of amphibians and 114 species of fishes. 
  • India has a network of 733 Protected Areas including 103 National Parks, 537 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 67 Conservation Reserves and 26 Community Reserves covering approximately 4.89 percent of country’s geographical area.

Some examples of human-wildlife conflict include:

  • Predation on livestock or domestic animals by wild animals
  • Damage to crops and fences
  • Wildlife strewing about residential garbage
  • Vehicle/wildlife collisions, aircraft/bird collisions
  • Damage caused by squirrels or bats to fruit and fruit trees
  • Bird nesting in undesirable residential locations

Reasons for man-animal conflict:

  • Expansion of human settlements into forests – expansion of cities, industrial areas, railway/road infrastructure, tourism etc.
  • Allowing livestock to graze in forest areas
  • Land use transformations such as change from protected forest patches to agricultural and horticultural lands and monoculture plantations are further destroying the habitats of wildlife.
  • Unscientific structures and practices of forest management in the country
  • Infestation of wildlife habitat by invasive exotic weeds leads to decreased availability of edible grasses for wild herbivores
  • Decreased prey base caused by poaching of herbivores has also resulted in carnivores moving out of forests in search of prey and to indulge in cattle lifting.

India’s Conservation culture

  • Despite a billion people India still has most of our large wildlife species- India today has the largest population of the tiger, Asian elephant, leopard, sloth bear, gaur and many others
  • Part of Culture: People have accepted coexistence of human & animals, and incorporated it in our culture. All our deities have animals associated with them; it shows the inclusion of these animals in our mind space.
  • The Velip community in Goa worship the tigers and this practice is done even today.
  • Animals are viewed also as renewable resource: Unlike activities such as mining, tigers are a renewable resource. They are always going to be there, and so will the rivers and the forests, giving the local people income and development — as long as there are tigers.

Innovative practices to minimise man-animal conflicts 

  • In the Western Ghats of India, a new conservation initiative has utilized texting as an early warning system to prevent human-elephant encounters. Elephant tracking collars embedded with SMS chips automatically text nearby residents, warning them of recent elephant movements.
  • In Canada, authorities have constructed wildlife corridors, areas of preserved native habitat in human dominated regions, providing wildlife with a safe pathway as they travel between one to another.
  • To keep elephants at a safe distance from their farms and homes, some African villagers have turned to two unlikely, all-natural solutions: bees and hot peppers. Elephants dislike the chemical capsaicin found in chili peppers, prompting farmers in Tanzania to smother their fences with a mixture of oil and chili peppers.

Tackling Man-Animal Conflict:

  • Discouraging Unplanned Urbanization: Urbanization should take place in a planned way. Effort should be made to ensure that the wildlife habitats gets disrupted as little as possible,
  • Considering landscape in entirety: Rather than protecting only the protected areas, the national sanctuaries or communities of the Biosphere Reserve we need to consider the landscape in entirety. This will help in not only reducing the man and animal conflict but the larger biodiversity will also be protected.
  • Maintaining road ecology: Fragmented habitats should be reconnected by using over- or under passes that allow the safe movement of animals across roads. Fencing can also be used to direct animals to safer places to cross or prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions in areas of highest risk.

Wildlife Conservation- Steps required:

Wildlife Protection and enjoying wildlife should be made part of our ethos.

  • Increasing the level of awareness: Running awareness campaigns at the state, district and local level. Awareness among people who are not so educated who are living in remote areas is low because they don’t have access to any knowledge systems so we need to have campaigns through which they can learn, understand what is biodiversity, why do we need to protect them and about the importance of biodiversity in maintaining our agricultural ecosystems. Role of civil society in creating awareness especially in remote areas is immense.
  • Catching them young: In the school talk about environment and wildlife should be done more seriously. We need to actually take the children to the heart of biodiversity places so as to sensitise them. The school curriculum must include lessons on importance of wildlife and biodiversity and also steps required to conserve them.
  • Amending the WPA, 1972: The Wildlife Protection Act which is under Amendment for many years. It must be amended by incorporating provisions of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) and enhancing the penalties for offences such as poaching.
  • Protecting the Wildlife Corridors: It vital to protect critical wildlife corridors. Large infrastructure projects that cut across well-known wild animal passages—such as the construction of a new highway, train line or power plant—must be sanctioned after thorough scrutiny.
  • Adopting landscape protection approach: As sixty percent of the country’s wildlife exist outside these protected areas, GOI needs to have more of a landscape protection approach rather than just concentrating and focusing on the national parks and the protected areas.

*As of December 15, 2021 |  Source: Wildlife Protection Society of India

*up to December 2020
Source: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; Aug 9, 2021 

Conclusion

We need to marry the question of biological diversity, its preservation, the protection of wildlife and healthy wellbeing for human beings all together from the level of citizenry. Conservation is not a project, but a long-term commitment and relationship to a landscape. It’s not just based on science and laws, but has a strong grounding in society.  The quality of wildlife can be improved by not only protecting them but by ensuring that the citizens actually enjoy the wildlife as something that is their heritage.  


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Scheme comes under which of the following Ministry?

  1. Ministry of Labour and Employment 
  2. Ministry of Rural development 
  3. Ministry of Social Justice 
  4. Ministry of MSME 

Q.2 “SAMARTH” initiative was recently launched by which of the following Ministry? 

  1. Ministry of Rural development
  2. Ministry of Labour and Employment 
  3. Ministry of MSME
  4. Ministry of Social Justice 

Q.3 SLINEX military exercise is carried out between which of the following countries?

  1. SriLanka and Thailand
  2. Australia and Japan
  3. Sri Lanka and India
  4. Australia and India

ANSWERS FOR 8th March 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 C

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