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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th April 2022

  • IASbaba
  • April 9, 2022
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(Prelims Focus)


RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Economy

Context: The Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee on Friday raised its estimate for inflation in FY23 to 5.7%, from the 4.5% forecast in February before Russia invaded Ukraine.

  • RBI also held benchmark interest rates and retained its ‘accommodative’ stance.
    • But it would now turn its focus to the withdrawal of accommodation to ensure that inflation remains within the target.
  • It also lowered its growth estimate for the current fiscal to 7.2%.

What is an accommodative stance?

  • An accommodative stance means that there is room for lowering interest rates in the future to revive growth and demand in the economy.
  • Accommodative monetary policy, also known as loose credit or easy monetary policy, occurs when a central bank attempts to expand the overall money supply to boost the economy when growth is slowing (as measured by GDP).
  • The policy is implemented to allow the money supply to rise in line with national income and the demand for money.

What is the Monetary Policy Committee?

  • Urjit Patel committee in 2014 recommended the establishment of the Monetary Policy Committee.
  • It is a statutory and institutionalized framework under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, for maintaining price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  • Composition: Six members (including the Chairman) – three officials of the RBI and three external members nominated by the Government of India.
  • The Governor of RBI is ex-officio Chairman of the committee
  • Functions: The MPC determines the policy interest rate (repo rate) required to achieve the inflation target (presently 4%). Decisions are taken by majority with the RBI Governor having the casting vote in case of a tie.

News Source: TH


MH-60R helicopters

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Defence and security

Context: The first batch of Indian Navy aircrew successfully completed its training on the MH-60R Multi-Role Helicopters (MRH) at the U.S. Naval Air Station, North Island in San Diego.

  • The first batch of three helicopters are expected to arrive in India by June.

Key takeaways

  • The crew would be responsible for inducting the versatile ‘Romeo’ into the Indian Navy.
  • This will be the first major induction of helicopters by the Navy in decades for deployment on ships.
    • The Navy is facing an acute shortage of helicopters on its frontline warships but procurement of new ones has been repeatedly delayed.
  • The MH-60Rs are a replacement of the Sea King 42/42A helicopters already decommissioned in the 1990s.
  • They are envisaged to operate from the frontline ships and aircraft carriers providing them the critical attributes of flexibility of operation, enhanced surveillance and attacking capability.
  • The MH-60R helicopters will provide the Navy enhanced offensive role including anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship strike, specialised maritime operations as well as search and rescue operations.

News Source: TH


Fortified rice

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Policies and interventions

Context: The Central government has approved the distribution of fortified rice across government schemes such as the public distribution system, and nutrition services for school children and anganwadi beneficiaries.

  • The entire cost of the scheme of Rs. 2,700 crore will be borne by the Centre until it is fully implemented by June, 2024.
  • The initiative will be implemented in three phases.
    • In the first phase, anganwadi centres under Integrated Child Development Services and PM POSHAN (or erstwhile mid-day meals) will be covered.
    • This was slated to be achieved by March 2022, but is still under implementation.
    • The second phase will cover targeted public distribution systems and other welfare schemes in all 291 aspirational districts as well as districts with a high burden of stunting by March 2023.
    • In the final phase the remaining districts of the country will be covered by March 2024.

What is Fortification?

  • Fortification is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
  • These nutrients may or may not have been originally present in the food before processing.

Fortification of Rice

  • According to the Food Ministry, fortification of rice is a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets.

News Source: TH


(News from PIB)


Cabinet approves extension of Atal Innovation Mission

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved continuation of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), till March 2023.

  • The AIM shall work on its intended target of creating an innovation culture and entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.
  • Objective: To create and promote an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship across the country via interventions at school, university, research institutions, MSME and industry levels.
  • The AIM has focused on both infrastructure creation and institution building.

The intended targets that will be achieved by AIM are:

  • Establishing 10000 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs),
  • Establishing 101 Atal Incubation Centers (AICs),
  • Establishing 50 Atal Community Innovation Centers (ACICs) and
  • Supporting 200 startups via the Atal New India Challenges.

News Source: PIB


MISCELLANEOUS

Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) are national honours bestowed by the Republic of India on performing artists as well as teachers and scholars in the field of performing arts.

NIDHI (National Initiative for Developing & Harnessing Innovations)

  • NIDHI supports aspiring entrepreneurs for pursuing a promising technology business idea over a period up to 18 months with a subsistence grant up to Rs 30000 per month with a maximum cap for total support of Rs 3.6 lakh to each EIR over a maximum of 18 months.
  • The NIDHI-EIR programme provides tremendous opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs to expand their networks and get critical feedback on their ventures in order to promote their entrepreneurial career goals and aspirations.

World Homoeopathy Day: 8th April

The World Homoeopathy Day is observed to commemorate the birth anniversary of the founder of Homoeopathy, Dr. Christian Fredrich Samuel Hahnemann. Also known as the

  • Father of Homeopathy
  • Father of Human Pharmacology
  • Father of Nano Medicine
  • Father of Infinite Dilution concept in Chemistry

Homeopathy

  • Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that the body can cure itself. Those who practice it use tiny amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals. They believe these stimulate the healing process. It’s an alternative medicinal practice that uses the smallest possible amount of an active ingredient in order to help treat or cure a disease, even if this same ingredient can contribute to an illness in the first place. Another way to put this concept: “like cures like”!
  • This practice helps stimulate the immune system and the body’s natural ability to heal – that which a substance is capable of causing, it is also capable of curing.

National Commission for Homoeopathy

  • The Commission shall consist of the following persons, namely: –(a) a chairperson; (b) seven ex officio Members; and (c) nineteen part-time Members.
  • Functions of the National Commission for Homoeopathy:
    • Framing policies for regulating medical institutions and homoeopathic medical professionals.
    • Assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure.

About the National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Act, 2020

  • The NCH, Act, 2020 come in to force w.e.f. 5th July 2021 after repealing the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and applies to whole of India.
  • The 2020 Act replaced the Council with a National Commission of Homoeopathy for regulating homoeopathic education and practice.
  • The Act is having the provision for having interface between Homoeopathy, Indian system of Medicine and Modern system of Medicine to promote medical pluralism.
  • It also provides provision for the State Government to take necessary measures to address various issues related to health including promotion of public health through Homoeopathy.

(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

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

Closing the gaps in Criminal Justice

Context: The Supreme Court of India, while hearing a criminal appeal, took suo motu cognisance of certain deficiencies and inadequacies which occur during the course of criminal trials. As a result, it issued the necessary directions in Criminal Trials vs The State of Andhra Pradesh (2021) case.

What were the directions issued?

These directions inter alia included

  1. Presentation of site plan
  • The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) mandates that the officer-in-charge of a police station shall proceed to the spot (of the crime) in person to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case and prepare a site sketch.
  • This site plan was admissible if the witnesses corroborate these statements of the draftsman that they showed him the places.
  • Significance: The guidelines issued now say that the site sketch can be prepared by investigating officer or nominated person depending on the importance of case. As a result, the police need to develop its own cadre of draftsmen
  1. Inquest report and body sketches (in a post-mortem report) in a uniform manner
  • If the evidence and materials collected during an inquest ‘make it a prima facie case of any offence’, a criminal case is registered and regular investigation taken up even without any formal complaint from anyone
  • The guidelines mandate that every medico-legal certificate and post-mortem report shall contain a printed format of the human body (with both a frontal and rear view)
  • Significance: Their standardisation will not only help the court to better appreciate these reports and scrutinise the evidence, but will also help the investigating officers and doctors to refresh their memory with more clarity.
  1. Photographs and videographs of a post-mortem in certain cases
  • Having trained photographers at police stations (in accordance with Supreme Court’s ruling of 2018 in Shafhi Mohammad vs the State of Himachal Pradesh) is also under way in a phased manner so that scenes of heinous offences are videographed and photographed using digital cameras.
  • The draft Code now provides that the investigating officer shall seize such photographs and videographs, preserve the original (separate memory card) and obtain certificate under Section 65B (regarding admissibility of electronic records) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
  • Significance: The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that there is uniformity of procedure in dealing with cases of death in police action or police custody without any tampering of evidence.
  1. Separation of prosecution from the investigation.
  • The Court in Sarala vs T.S. Velu (2000) held that as per the scheme of the CrPC, the investigation ends with the formation of an opinion by the police as to whether, on the material collected, a case is made out to place the accused for trial
  • The formation of the said opinion by the police is the final step of investigation, and this final step is to be taken by the police and by no other authority. The public prosecutor is an officer of the court and his role essentially is inside the court.
  • More recently, in State of Gujarat vs Kishanbhai (2014), the Court, while taking note of the many lapses in investigation, directed that ‘on completion of the investigation in a criminal case, the prosecuting agency should apply its independent mind, and require all shortcomings to be rectified, if necessary, by requiring further investigation’.
  • Significance: Since, investigation and prosecution are two different facets in the administration of criminal justice, the three judge Bench of the Supreme Court has now rightly asked the States to separate the two wings.
    • Chhattisgarh has sanctioned a cadre of law officers (who shall function independently of the public prosecutors and will have no role in the court) to assist the investigating officers in educating and improving investigation work.
  1. Direction to High Court
  • The High Courts and the State governments were, accordingly, asked to notify the draft “Rules of Criminal Practice, 2021” which all the States and the High Courts had agreed upon with minor variations, and make consequential amendments in their police and other manuals.

Conclusion

while the creation of a cadre of draftsmen and photographers may take time, executive orders may be issued without further delay, followed by training of investigating officers and medical doctors, in order to implement the Supreme Court’s directives.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

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

Moscow’s suspension from U.N. Human Rights Council

Context: Russia’s membership to the Human Rights Council (HRC), to which it was elected in 2020, was suspended recently after the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted, 93 to 24, with 58 abstentions, including India, to adopt a resolution suspending Moscow from the UN body.

  • The resolution was proposed by a group of countries that included Ukraine, the U.S., the EU, several Latin American countries and required a two-thirds majority of those present and voting for adoption.
  • Abstentions do not count in the tally of those ‘present and voting’. India abstained for reasons of “substance and process”.
  • The only time a member state was suspended from the Geneva-based body was Libya in 2011.
  • The HRC is a UN body, comprising 47 states, that describes itself as “responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe”. Countries are elected for three-year terms.

What was the reason given and Russia’s response?

  • Russia has faced immense criticism after bodies were found in the streets of Bucha, a northern Ukrainian town, from where Russian troops withdrew
  • According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least 1,611 civilians have been killed and 2,227 injured in Ukraine since the war began.
  • Russia claims it to be “staged events and fakes”.

What is the significance of the suspension?

  • When Russia began the invasion, President Vladimir Putin had said the main objectives of what he called the “special military operation” were the “demilitarisation and denazification” of Ukraine.
  • Considering the three-front war Russia launched, it was evident that Moscow wanted to meet its real objectives quickly. But Ukraine’s fierce resistance, especially in the north, has changed the course of the conflict, which now looks like a war of attrition, focusing on Ukraine’s east.
  • However, Russia cannot evade its responsibility for these losses.
  • While the truth should be established in an independent UN-monitored probe, there is no doubt that civilians were targeted.

What lies ahead?

  • Now, both Ukraine and Russia are in difficult situations. The Ukrainians, with military and financial aid from the West, have pushed back in the north, but lost territories in the east and the south.
  • Given the power imbalance, it is unlikely that Ukraine can regain the lost territories.
  • Russia now seems to have been bogged down in the battlefield, with international criticism mounting on its war conduct
  • What is in the best interest of all parties is a cessation of hostilities and a diplomatic solution started with Istanbul talks.
  • The investigation into the civilian killings should go on in parallel and not derail the diplomatic process.

What did Istanbul talks entail?

The Istanbul talks had opened a path towards peace.  According to the Ukrainian proposals, President Zelensky has agreed to

  • accept neutrality in return for multilateral security assurances.
  • Ready for a consultation period of 15 years for Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and
  • discuss the status of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk republics in a summit with Mr. Putin.

It was after Istanbul proposals that the Russians announced their pull back from the north. But the Bucha killings appear to have clouded the peace process.

Conclusion

  • Russia should follow up on its words with more demonstrable actions to end the hostilities. The war has damaged its economy and its reputation as a great power, while causing unspeakable losses and destruction in Ukraine.
  • The most important message from the UN body to Moscow is that it should cease the fire and take the path of diplomacy immediately.

Connecting the dots:


(Sansad TV: Perspective)


April 6: Sri Lanka: Trouble in Paradise – https://youtu.be/hkAG5PFIXsE

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: India and its neighbourhood

Sri Lanka: Trouble in Paradise

Context: With long lines for fuel, cooking gas, essentials in short supply and long hours of power cuts, the public has been suffering for months. The raging public anger spilled onto the streets last week leading to nationwide protests, and a subsequent declaration of public emergency in the island nation by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

  • In the days that followed, the President removed his brother and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa from his post.
  • Facing the heat from public, all Cabinet ministers resigned en masse on 3rd
  • On 5th April, the new finance minister Ali Sabry resigned – just a day after being sworn in.
  • The ruling coalition, headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, lost its majority in Parliament as proceedings began on 5th for the first time since the state of Emergency was imposed.
  • At least 41 lawmakers walked out of the alliance against the backdrop of nationwide protests.

Factors that led to severe economic distress:

  • Pandemic led to job losses and reduced incomes. All key foreign exchange earning sectors, such as exports and remittances, along with tourism, were brutally hit.
  • Declining Foreign Reserves: Fears of a sovereign default rose by the end of 2021, with the country’s foreign reserves decreasing to $1.6 billion. But Sri Lanka managed to keep its unblemished foreign debt servicing record.
  • Government Inaction: The lack of a comprehensive strategy to respond to the crisis then, coupled with certain policy decisions including the government’s abrupt switch to organic farming widely deemed “ill-advised”, further aggravated the problem.
  • Sri Lanka’s Fertiliser Ban: In 2021, all fertiliser imports were completely banned and it was declared that Sri Lanka would become a 100% organic farming nation overnight.
  • Shut-down: Garment factories and tea estates could not function, as infections raged in clusters.
  • Fuel shortage: Sri Lanka is also facing five-hour rolling electricity blackouts as thermal generators have run out of fuel.
  • Food hoarding: The government declared emergency regulations for the distribution of essential food items. It put wide import restrictions to save dollars which in turn led to consequent market irregularities and reported hoarding.
  • Downgraded rating: Three international rating agencies have downgraded the island since late last year, on fears it may not be able to service its $51 billion sovereign debt.
  • Spiralling debt: The debt issue did not begin in 2020. Since the end of the ethnic war in 2009, Sri Lanka was struggling to keep its economy afloat.

Lessons learnt from crisis:

  • It would be best to raise domestic tax revenue and shrink government expenditure to limit borrowing, particularly sovereign borrowing from external sources.
  • Thus, there is a need for ambitious fiscal consolidation based on high-quality revenue measures, raising income tax.
  • The country’s heavy dependence on imports for essential goods should be reduced like sugar, pharmaceuticals, fuel, pulses and cereals worsened the crisis.

India’s Response

India recently extended a $1 billion credit facility to Sri Lanka to assist the island nation through its worst foreign exchange BOP crisis and enable it to procure food, medicines and other essential items.

Conclusion

  • There is a need to step up our people-centric developmental activities while scrupulously staying clear of any interference in Colombo’s domestic affairs.
  • However, nurturing the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy with Sri Lanka is important for India to preserve its strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region.

Value Addition

What is a credit facility?

  • A credit facility is a type of loan.
  • It allows the borrowing party to take out money over an extended period of time rather than reapplying for a loan each time it needs money.

What is Line of Credit (LOC)?

  • A line of credit (LOC) is a preset borrowing limit that can be tapped into at any time.
  • The borrower can take money out as needed until the limit is reached, and as money is repaid, it can be borrowed again in the case of an open line of credit.

Can you answer the following question?

  • How did Sri Lanka get here? What triggered the crisis of this scale and what is the way out of this dire situation?

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Which of the following is not  true about the National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Act, 2020?

  1. The NCH, Act, 2020 came into force after repealing the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and applies to the whole of India.
  2. The 2020 Act replaced the Council with a National Commission of Homoeopathy for regulating homoeopathic education and practice.
  3. The Act does not have any provision for having an interface between Homoeopathy, Indian system of Medicine and Modern system of Medicine to promote medical pluralism.
  4. It also provides provision for the State Government to take necessary measures to address various issues related to health including promotion of public health through Homoeopathy.

Q.2 Which of the following committees recommended the establishment of the Monetary Policy Committee?

  1. M L Dhantwala Committee
  2. Tandon Committee
  3. Urjit Patel committee
  4. Narasimham Committee

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Fortification?

  1. Fortification is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
  2. These nutrients may or may not have been originally present in the food before processing.

Which of the above is or are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWERS FOR 9th April 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 C

Must Read

On UGC credit system:

The Hindu

On RBI shift in monetary Policy:

Indian Express

 

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