IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
(PRELIMS & MAINS Focus)
- GS-2: Health
Context: Anthrax, an infectious disease which affects domestic as well as wild animals, has been reported in wild boars.
- Anthrax is caused by a spore-forming bacterium/gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis which can be found naturally in soil. It mainly affects animals.
- Humans can be infected through contact with an animal or by inhaling spores.
- Symptoms depend on the route of infection. They can range from a skin ulcer to difficulty breathing.
- Antibiotics cure most infections. Inhaled anthrax is harder to treat and can be fatal.
Source: The Indian Express
- GS 3: Development in Space
In News: ISRO places 3 Singapore satellites, 6 experiments in orbit in second launch this year. The first one having placed an Indian Earth Observation Satellite in orbit.
- The PSLV Orbital Experimental Module is a platform that will help perform in-orbit experiments using the final, and otherwise discarded, stage of ISRO’s workhorse rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
- The PSLV is a four-stage rocket where the first three spent stages fall back into the ocean, and the final stage (PS4) — after launching the satellite into orbit — ends up as space junk.
- But, with the addition of a little power to keep the stage in orbit, they can be utilised for experiments.
- POEM has a dedicated Navigation Guidance and Control (NGC) system for attitude stabilisation, which stands for controlling the orientation of any aerospace vehicle within permitted limits. The NGC will act as the platform’s brain to stabilize it with specified accuracy.
- POEM will derive its power from solar panels mounted around the PS4 tank, and a Li-Ion battery. It will navigate using “four sun sensors, a magnetometer, gyros & NavIC”.
Source: The Indian Express
- GS 2: Government schemes and policies
- Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) achieved No.1 rank in Ease-of-Doing Business (EoDB) for 2020-21 with a score of 97.89%
- Second: Gujarat (97.77%)
- Third: Tamil Nadu (96.97%)
- Fourth: Telangana (94.86%)
- Haryana, Karnataka and Punjab have been adjudged ‘top achievers’ in the implementation of the 2020-21 Business Reforms Action Plan (BRAP) jointly formulated by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and the World Bank.
Source: The Hindu
- GS 3: Economy
In News: The asset quality of the banking system has improved with gross non-performing assets (GNPA) ratio declining from 7.4 per cent in March 2021 to a six-year low of 5.9 per cent in March 2022.
- The provisioning coverage ratio (PCR) improved to 70.9 per cent in March 2022 from 67.6 per cent a year ago.
- The slippage ratio, measuring new accretions to NPAs as a share of standard advances at the beginning of the period, declined across bank groups during FY22.
- Write-off ratio fell for the second year running to 20.0 per cent in 2021-22.
- India has the highest fintech adoption rate globally (87 per cent), receiving funding of $8.53 billion (in 278 deals) during 2021-22.
Notwithstanding the challenges from global spillovers, the Indian economy remains on the path of recovery, though inflationary pressures, external spillovers and geopolitical risks warrant careful handling and close monitoring.
What Is a Non-Performing Asset (NPA)?
- A nonperforming asset (NPA) refers to a classification for loans or advances that are in default or in arrears.
- A loan is in arrears when principal or interest payments are late or missed.
- A loan is in default when the lender considers the loan agreement to be broken and the debtor is unable to meet his obligations.
- In India, a non-performing asset (NPA) is defined as a loan or advance for which the principal or interest payment remained overdue for a period of 90 days.
Source: The Indian Express
- GS 2: Government schemes and policies
Context: At the first meeting of the Multi-Agency Maritime Security Group (MAMSG), National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, while calling for seamless coordination among all stakeholders involved in the maritime domain, stated that the maritime domain was a multilateral construct and a nation “cannot unilaterally decide” in the maritime domain.
- The MAMSG is envisaged to provide a standing and effective mechanism to ensure coordination of all aspects of maritime security, including coastal and offshore security, as well as fill the institutional, policy, technological and operational gaps in meeting present and future security challenges.
- Importantly, the group will also address maritime contingencies requiring an urgent and coordinated response
- Chaired by: India’s first National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC) Vice-Admiral Ashok Kumar (Retd.)
- Land border and maritime border are very different. Maritime borders cannot be fenced. We cannot have the concept of zero per cent tolerance for intrusion. So, we need technology and other ways of countering it.
- While India being a peninsular position was a great advantage, the cardinal principle was the country’s vulnerabilities were directly proportional to assets. The more India developed, the more assets it created, the more trade and commerce increased, greater would be the threat and vulnerability in the maritime domain.
- Economic interests and coastal infrastructure are critical to exploit our maritime resources.
- A number of crucial policy issues on maritime security were taken up, including “mapping of existing orders and policies on maritime security to identify gaps, review of standard operating procedures for maritime contingencies, security of ports and coastal infrastructure, creation of a national maritime database, capacity building of coastal States and UTs and promotion of blue economy.”
- 95% of Indian trade by volume is maritime and routed via 12 major and over 200 non-major ports.
- Over 90% of the hydrocarbon requirements are met through seaborne imports and offshore production.
- With over three lakh fishing vessels, the marine fisheries sector is also a major contributor to the economy and livelihood of the fishing community.
Source: The Hindu
- Mains GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
In News: As Kerala debates the Supreme Court order for maintaining at least a kilometre of Eco-Sensitive Zone for protected areas, the WGEEP report, popularly known as the Gadgil report, once again springs back to public discourse.
Gadgil Committee Recommendations:
- The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) designated the entire hill range as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).
- The panel, in its report, has classified the 142 taluks in the Western Ghats boundary into Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ) 1, 2 and 3.
- ESZ-1 being of high priority, almost all developmental activities (mining, thermal power plants etc) were restricted in it.
- Gadgil report recommended that “no new dams based on large-scale storage be permitted in Ecologically Sensitive Zone 1
- It specifies that the present system of governance of the environment should be changed. It asked for bottom to top approach (right from Gram sabhas) rather than a top to bottom approach. It also asked for decentralization and more powers to local authorities.
- The commission recommended constitution of a Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA), as a statutory authority under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, with the powers under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Examination of Madhav Gadgil Report
- The major criticism faced by Gagdil Committee report was that it was more environment-friendly and not in tune with the ground realities.
- Recommendations were cited as impractical to implement.
- Gadgil report has asked for complete eco-sensitive cover for Western Ghats which hamper different states on energy and development fronts.
- There was criticism against the constitution of a new body called WGEA. States insist that protection can be given under existing laws.
- Gadgil report doesn’t give solution for revenue losses due to implementation of its recommendations.
- Gadgil report is against dams in Western Ghats, which is a crucial blow on the ailing power sector. Considering the growing energy needs of India, critics argue that this recommendation cannot be taken.
Major Anthropogenic Threats to The Western Ghats
The Western Ghats of India is facing severe threats to its ecosystem. In the period between 1920 to 1990, 40 percent of its natural vegetation was depleted. This is coupled with dangers arising from encroachments. The major anthropogenic threats include:
- Large dam projects in Western Ghats have resulted in environmental and social disruption despite cost-benefit analyses and environmental impact assessments being done by the government and companies.
- The rise in human settlements has led to the over-exploitation of forest products through activities such as livestock grazing.
- Livestock grazing within and bordering protected areas by high densities of livestock (cattle and goats) is a serious problem causing habitat degradation across the Western Ghats.
- The mining establishments, especially iron-ore mining, have greatly contributed to damaging the ecological balance, by destroying farms, polluting rivers and damaging the top soil.
- Diversion of forests for agriculture, mining and industrial projects, road construction etc over the past few decades have resulted in the state of Kerala losing 9064 sq kms between 1973 and 2016 and Karnataka losing 200 sq km of forest land in the Western Ghats between 2001 and 2017.
- Given that the Western Ghats exists within an intensely human-dominated landscape, human-wildlife conflicts are a common phenomenon.
- Pollution is also playing its part, with high mercury levels in the water, and agrochemicals from tea and coffee plantations going unchecked.
- Plantations owned by private individuals and corporate sector continue to grow in the Western Ghats and constitute an important source of fragmentation of natural habitat.
- The other culprit for loss of native flora in the Western Ghats is the plantation of alien species such as Eucalyptus, Pinus by the British which can be seen across the upper slopes of the Nilgiris interspersed with Lantana Camara. They create a mat-like structure leading to degradation of the land and destruction of the native biodiversity.
Source: The Hindu
- Mains GS 2: Government schemes and policies
In News: The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) notified guidelines for ‘Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022’. The guidelines, brought in with immediate effect, are applicable to all forms of advertisements.
- While the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 does have a provision on misleading advertisements, the CCPA can impose a penalty of up to ₹10 lakh on manufacturers, advertisers and endorsers for misleading advertisements and a penalty of up to ₹50 lakh for subsequent contraventions.
- It can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from making any endorsement for up to one year; for subsequent contravention, prohibition can extend up to three years.
An advertisement shall be considered to be valid and not misleading, if–
- It contains truthful and honest representation
- It does not mislead consumers by exaggerating the accuracy, scientific validity or practical usefulness or capability or performance or service of the goods or product
- It does not present rights conferred on consumers by any law as a distinctive feature of advertiser’s offer
- It does not suggest that the claims made in such advertisement are universally accepted if there is a significant division of informed or scientific opinion pertaining to such claims
- It does not mislead about the nature or extent of the risk to consumers’ personal security, or that of their family if they fail to purchase the advertised goods, product or service
- It ensures that the claims that have not been independently substantiated but are based merely on the content of a publication do not mislead consumers
- It complies with the provisions contained in any other sector specific law and the rules and regulations made thereunder.
Source: The Hindu
- Mains GS 3: Indian Economy
Context: India’s aspiration to become a $5-trillion economy is predicated on the growth of its international trade to $2 trillion by 2030, equally contributed to by merchandise and services. This translates into a three-fold growth or almost 20 per cent CAGR over this period.
- Expectation of services exports to overtake merchandise and manufacturing, or at least be on par.
- But possible only if services are viewed from the same prism as manufacturing in terms of fiscal encouragement and incentives.
- While around 50 per cent and more of services exports are contributed by IT-ITES, which continues to innovate its offerings and grow, the rest is the input from management, legal, accounting, logistics, travel and tourism, education, healthcare, etc.
- Services sectors beyond IT require careful nurturing, especially capex-intensive sectors like hospitality, healthcare and education.
Concerns in the Services Industry
Even though it comprises over 50 percent of the GDP, the services sector does not receive the recognition — and more importantly, the encouragement in the form of incentives — it deserves.
- The perception at one level of the sector as comprising only IT: And the IT sector has flourished because of minimum government intervention. Ergo, the sector as a whole does not require any hand holding. This is a fallacious perspective.
- Not Recognising and celebrating: In the year 2021-22, services exports had exceeded $254 billion, an increase of over 20 per cent year-on-year, even though contribution from three sectors — education, healthcare and especially travel and tourism — was overall reduced by over $20 billion because of travel restrictions during the pandemic.
- Further, consider that merchandise and manufacturing exports are $200 billion-negative in that we imported $600 billion versus our exports of over $400 billion. Services exports, by contrast, were over $100 billion-positive, underlining the importance of ensuring that the growth trajectory in services exports is maintained.
- Lack of Incentives:
- During the reign of MEIS (Merchandise Exports Incentive Scheme), merchandise exporters benefited to the extent of over Rs 40,000 crore in 2018-19, whereas under the corresponding SEIS (Services Exports Incentive Scheme) exporters could avail of only a tenth of that amount.
- Even though SEIS is committed under the Foreign Trade Policy, it was only through intense advocacy that a sum of Rs 2,000 crore was finally earmarked for services exports for 2019-20, largely on compassionate grounds as sectors like travel and tourism had suffered immensely due to Covid restrictions.
- These incentives cannot be viewed as charitable handouts — they serve to make businesses internationally competitive as well as recognise contributions made by service providers. These incentives are clearly temporary impetus providers and there must be a slew of economic measures with both long-term effects and benefits for services.
The Way Forward
To quadruple services exports over the next 7-8 years is surely a herculean task and certainly not achievable unless there is a strategic road map with the right sort of government intervention.
- Focus to move beyond IT: The burden cannot be only on the IT sector, which at present contributes around 55 per cent of total services exports. Clearly, other sectors will have to bring exponential growth to the table.
- Triple International arrivals & make India ready to attend to them: Government needs to embark on a crash programme to enhance infrastructure.
- While the government can work on physical connectivity through public-private partnerships by building more airports and highways, it will require individual entrepreneurship to increase the hospitality quotient by adding more hotel rooms.
- The government provides attractive incentives, including direct taxation for green field projects in the manufacturing sector. The same blueprint must be initiated for the services sectors, especially in the building of hotels, hospitals and universities, with an emphasis on those that attract forex.
- Incentives Services Sector: With a similar scheme like Production Linked Incentives (PLI) scheme with a well-laid-out process that ensures capex investment, resulting in increased productivity and avenues for employment. It can be introduced for services with substantial scope for capex in areas like hospitality, education and health care.
In these adverse times, if economic momentum has to be sustained and every initiative and effort has to be made to yield the desired result, then the perception of services, especially their exports, must radically transform. This is also to ensure that as a major economy, India’s reliance should be on multiple horses in the race — manufacturing and services.
About the Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS)
- Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) aims to promote export of services from India by providing duty scrip credit for eligible exports.
- A Duty Credit Scrip is like a credit certificate issued by the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and can be used to pay various duties/taxes to the Central Govt.
- Service providers of eligible services shall be entitled to duty credit scrip at notified rates on the net foreign exchange earned.
- Duty credit scrips can be used for the payment of custom duties, excise duties, GST on procurement of services etc.
- Further, the SEIS scheme has given relaxation to the actual user condition and duty credit scrips and goods imported using duty credit scrips are freely transferable. Duty credit scrip would be valid for a period of 18 months from the date of issue.
- The scheme is implemented and administrated by the Government’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in association with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
Source: The Indian Express
Daily Practice MCQs
Q.1) Consider the following statements on the ‘GST Council’
- It is a constitutional body that was constituted by the 101st constitutional amendment act 2016.
- The Centre has one-third of the voting rights in the council.
Choose the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) ‘Bonalu’ seen in the news is recently is a
- Metal Handicraft
- Wall Paintings
- Music Form
Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!!
ANSWERS FOR ’1st JULY 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.
ANSWERS FOR 30th JUNE 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs
Q.1) – d
Q.2) – c
Q.3) – a
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