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

  • IASbaba
  • October 10, 2022
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Nobel Peace Prize 2022

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs

In news: The Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 has been awarded to Ales Bialiatski, Memorial group of Russia and Centre for Civil Liberties of Ukraine who stand against Russia and has made a statement towards Russia’s war in Ukraine.

About Ales Bialiatski:

  • He is a Belarus civil rights activist who promotes democracy and peaceful development in his country.
  • He is being held without trial in jail since 2021 and despite tremendous hardship, has not yielded in his fight for human rights.
  • He found the Belarus human rights group Viasna (Spring) in 1995 to defend and expose violations of human rights and to build a just and free society.
  • He is a vocal critic of Putin’s ally, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus.
  • Belarus’s support to Russia – offered country’s territory to Russian troops for launching attacks into Ukraine and its soldiers are said to have fought alongside Russian troops.

About Memorial group of Russia:

  • It is the largest human rights organisation in Russia and was shut down by Putin.
  • Its objective was to record atrocities committed during the communist regime, especially under Joseph Stalin.
  • It is based on the notion that confronting past crimes is essential in preventing new ones. It is the most authoritative source of information on political prisoners in Russian detention facilities, also leads efforts to combat militarism.
  • It documents victims of the Stalinist era, and compiled information on political oppression and human rights violations in Russia. It highlighted war abuses and crimes by Russia in Chechen wars.
  • The organisation was stamped as a “foreign agent” early on, and in December 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that it must be liquidated and the documentation centre shut permanently.

About Centre for Civil Liberties, Ukraine:

  • Centre for Civil Liberties is a Ukrainian rights organisation that is documenting alleged war crimes by Russia in Ukraine.
  • Founded in Kyiv in 2007 with the aim of advancing human rights and democracy in Ukraine, it has taken a stand to strengthen Ukrainian civil society and pressure the authorities to make Ukraine a full-fledged democracy.
  • It has actively advocated that Ukraine become affiliated with the International Criminal Court.
  • Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, the Centre has engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population in collaboration with international partners

Significance:

  • The Peace Prize winners represent civil society in their home countries.
  • They have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens.
  • They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power
  • Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.
  • This year’s winners have revitalised and honoured Alfred Nobel’s vision of peace and fraternity between nations — a vision most needed in the world today.

Methodology of Nobel Peace Prize

  • The Nobel Peace Prize has often mirrored current geopolitical choices of the West.
  • The winner of the Peace Nobel is chosen by a committee of five persons selected by Norway’s Parliament.
  • The names of nominators and nominees cannot be divulged for 50 years.
  • Among eligible nominators are members of national assemblies and national governments of sovereign states as well as current heads of state, and members of The International Court of Justice and The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

About Nobel Prize:

  • Nobel Prizes are a group of five separate prizes awarded to “those who have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.
  • Named after, Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, and industrialist most famously known for the invention of dynamite.
  •  Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901.
  • The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000).
  • The money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.

Source: Indian Express


Super App

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science & Technology

In News: The concept of an everything app, or a “super app,” is massively popular in Asia as mobile is the main form of access to the internet in the region and tech companies across the world have tried to replicate it.

  • Elon Musk saw an opportunity to create such an app by adding more tools and services to Twitter.
  • Musk said he wanted Twitter to grow from its 237 million users to “at least a billion.”

What is a super app?

  • Elon Musk refers to it as an “everything app,” such as the Swiss army knife.
  • A super app is essentially a one-stop app that offers a suite of services by bundling a bunch of services or separate apps within it, to cover every need of the consumer such as messaging, social networking, peer-to-peer payments, health and wellness and e-commerce shopping.
  • These offerings will often be bound by a common account and a robust in-app payment system.
  • On the contrary, any other app in general will be specialising in one of these services or categories such as Uber for cabs, Swiggy for food and grocery delivery, and Netflix for movies and content.
  • These Super apps are strongly aligned with emerging market governments because of their role in shrinking the grey economy.

Examples of super apps:

  • Chinese super app WeChat is currently the most sophisticated super app globally. It has more than 1 billion monthly users and is a ubiquitous part of daily life in China.
  • Alipay too has treaded a similar path in China and has a massive userbase.
  • Grab, a leading super app across Southeast Asia, offers food delivery, ride-hailing, on-demand package delivery and financial services and investing.
  • Gojek is Indonesia’s super app, which is now called GoTo.

Position of U.S.:

  • Snapchat parent Snap Inc. previously introduced peer-to-peer payments called Snapcash, but ended the feature in 2018.
  • It also made a push into mobile gaming and recently ended that venture as part of cost-cutting plans.
  • Meta Platform Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram have also tried to expand beyond social networking and messaging into e-commerce.

India’s Position:

  • Amazon in India, lets you pay utility bills, book travel, order food, groceries and so on.
  • Paytm has been offering a multitude of services, including bill payments, ticket booking, gaming, investments and more.
  • Reliance Jio’s intents offering a suite of services within its app. The app will have groceries, medicines, content, fashion and so on.
  • Flipkart’s Phonepay too has been partnering with several other companies like Ola, Swiggy, MakeMyTrip, IRCTC to name a few to enable services across categories through Phonepay Switch platform.
  • Tata Digital’s Tata Neu latest offering has brought together some of the top brands within their respective categories with a smoother and better user interface.

Source:  The Hindu


Biodiversity Mainstreaming

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Environment and Ecology

In News: In a report released at the 8th World Forest Week held in Rome, on the side lines of the 26th  session of Committee on Forestry (COFO), Mainstreaming biodiversity in ‘production forests’ has been cited as paramount.

  • The report was produced through a partnership between FAO and the non-profit Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the lead centre of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
  • In 2019, FAO adopted the Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Agricultural Sectors.

About:

  • Mainstreaming biodiversity means embedding biodiversity considerations into policies, strategies and practices of key public and private actors to promote the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • Mainstreaming biodiversity in forestry involves prioritising forest policies, plans, programmes, projects and investments that have a positive impact on biodiversity at the ecosystem, species and genetic levels.
  • Biodiversity mainstreaming in the forest sector requires integrated multi-stakeholder approaches that cross-sectoral boundaries
  • COFO is FAO’s forestry statutory body.
  • CGIAR is a global partnership that unites international organisations engaged in research about food security.

Significance:

  • Forests are home to most of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
  • Forests cover 31 per cent of the world’s land surface & store an estimated 296 gigatonnes of carbon.
  • The world’s forests provide habitats for about 80 per cent of amphibian species, 75 per cent of bird species and 68 per cent of mammal species. In addition, about 60 per cent of all vascular plants occur in tropical forests.
  • The role of forests in maintaining biodiversity is explicitly recognised by the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017–2030.

Challenges:

  • Deforestation is the greatest driver of the loss of valuable biodiversity, with around 10 million hectares lost to deforestation each year, mainly for agricultural expansion.
  • Other threats include over-harvesting of timber, invasive species, climate change, desertification and forest fires.
  • On the one hand, much progress has been made towards mainstreaming biodiversity in production forest management. On the other hand, biodiversity continues to decline globally.
  • Weak governance is the biggest challenge to law enforcement.
  • Lack of documentation on species and inadequate definitions of institutional mandates and instruments for cross-sectoral collaboration such as in Ethiopia.

Recommendations of the report:

  • Halting and reversing deforestation.
  • Combating illegal and unregulated forest activities.
  • Recognising the forest tenure of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
  • Preventing the conversion of natural forests into monospecific forest plantations.
  • Ensuring the sustainable management of harvested species.
  • Managing and controlling invasive and overabundant species.
  • Leveraging global momentum on restoration to enhance biodiversity conservation.
  • Adopting a multisectoral perspective.
  • Providing economic incentives.
  • Facilitating market-based instruments.
  • Investing in knowledge and capacity development.
  • in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the involvement of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and the private sector in biodiversity management should be a priority and laws, policies and national strategies for biodiversity conservation should consider forests other than protected areas.

Source: Down to Earth

Previous Year Question

Q.1) The most important strategy for the conservation of biodiversity together with traditional human life is the establishment of: (2014)

  1. biosphere reserves
  2. botanical gardens
  3. national parks
  4. wildlife sanctuaries

Vultures

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Environment and Ecology

In News: A study by University of York in the UK, tracked 26 African white-backed vultures fitted with GPS tags for four years over southern Tanzania.

African white-blacked vultures:

  • It is the most common vulture species in the continent of Africa.
  • The birds travelled long distances, with one bird visiting eight countries in southern Africa like Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa and Namibia.
  • Vultures mostly forage early in the day outside Protected Areas (PAs).
  • They avoid areas with high livestock density while feeding and did not use cattle as a main food source.
  • If threats such as poison-laced carcasses are removed from these places, the decline in vulture populations can be stemmed.
  • IUCN status: Critically Endangered

Indian Vultures:

  • These are native to India, Pakistan and Nepal.
  • The Indian vulture is medium-sized and bulky, they are slow breeders that live long.
  • Its wings are broad and its tail feathers are short. Its head and neck are almost bald, and its bill is rather long.
  • Vultures in India also forage mostly out of protected areas. They travel long distances every day while foraging for food.
  • However, Indian Vultures feed on livestock.
  • Due to this, a drastic crash in vulture populations is seen in India due to the use of diclofenac in veterinary treatment, mainly on cattle.
  • IUCN status: Critically Endangered

Threats:

  • Population decline
  • Captive-breeding programs
  • Widespread use of drugs such as diclofenac
  • Rotting of carcasses formerly eaten by vultures causing collapse of animal disposal system
  • Diseases from rotting carcasses like rabies, anthrax.

Conservation Efforts in India:

  • Identification and removal of threats near the nesting and roosting sites, making food and water available to them is what needs to be done.
  • Understanding their habitat use and their behaviour.
  • Vulture Recovery Plan – banning the veterinary use of diclofenac, finding its substitute and set up conservation breeding centres for vultures.
  • Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-2025
  • PIL filed in Delhi High Court about not banning nimesulide, aceclofenac and ketoprofen which are toxic to the vultures.
  • The Centre has formed a committee made up of members from the BNHS and Indian Veterinary Research Institute to formulate a release policy for vultures being bred at the centres.

Miscellaneous:

  • Diclofenac is a common anti-inflammatory drug administered to livestock and is used to treat the symptoms of inflammation, fevers and/or pain associated with disease or wounds.
  • A genus of vultures called Gyps was the most affected by diclofenac.

Source: Down to Earth

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Vultures which used to be very common in Indian countryside some years ago are rarely seen nowadays. This is attributed to

  1. the destruction of their nesting sites by new invasive species
  2. a drug used by cattle owners for treating their diseased cattle
  3. scarcity of food available to them
  4. a widespread, persistent and fatal disease among them

Cotton production in India

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Agriculture and Economy

Context: October 7 is celebrated each year as World Cotton Day. Year 2022 marks the third-anniversary celebration of the international event with the theme Weaving a better future for Cotton.

  • No less than 6 million small-to-medium-sized Indian cotton farmers and farm workers, participate in the global cotton value chain.

Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS):

  • The global textile supply chain is undergoing a paradigm shift as it pursuing environmental and social upgradation to meet the sustainability requirements imposed by global textile and home furnishing retailers.
  • This is being accomplished by using Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), which encapsulate certification schemes, labelling programmes, and private standards.
  • The major VSS that are dominant in the sustainable cotton value chain today include Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Organic Cotton, Fairtrade Cotton, and Cotton Made in Africa.

Dual benefits for India adopting VSS:

  • On the one hand, it will help it remain globally competitive in the cotton supply chain and strengthen its position in the export market, while on the other, it will help meet India’s SDG commitments.
  • The total cotton area under VSS has reached 1.5 million hectares, contributing to 24 percent of the global VSS cotton area.
  • With approximately 0.2 million hectares of area for production, it is the largest producer of organic cotton, accounting for 50 percent of global organic cotton production, and the second-largest producer of ‘Better Cotton’, accounting for 16.5 percent of total Better Cotton production covering an area of 1.5 million hectares.
  • The Thinkstep report 2018 on the Life Cycle Assessment of VSS Cotton conducted in Madhya Pradesh revealed a reduction of 50 percent in climate change impact, 59 percent in blue water consumption, 84 percent in ecotoxicity, and 100 percent eutrophication in organic over conventional cotton.
  • This clearly indicates that VSS cotton growth story in India has already demonstrated its contribution towards the achievement of SDG targets for Zero Hunger (Goal 2), Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12), Life on Land (Goal 15), and Climate Action (Goal 16).
  • VSS cotton delivers real, measurable outcomes according to priority indicators such as changes in the extent of water bodies, improving groundwater withdrawal against availability, and rationalising nitrogen fertiliser as outlined by NITI Aayog which maps India’s SDG goals.

Cotton production in India:

  • India is the largest producer of cotton in the world and the third largest exporter. It is also the largest consumer of cotton in the world.
  • Top Cotton Producing States in India are Gujarat, Maharashtra. Telangana, Andhra Pradesh.
  • India is the country to grow all four species of cultivated cotton G.arboreum and Herbaceum (Asian cotton), G.barbadense (Egyptian cotton) and G. hirsutum (American Upland cotton).
  • hirsutum represents 94% of the hybrid cotton production in India and all the current Bt cotton hybrids are G. hirsutum.
  • Now India’s Cotton would be known as ‘Kasturi Cotton’ in the world cotton Trade.
  • The pest-resistant Genetically Modified (GM) Bt cotton hybrids have captured the Indian market (covering over 95% of the area under cotton) since their introduction in 2002.
  • These now cover over 95% of the area under cotton, with the seeds produced entirely by the private sector.
  • India is the only country that grows cotton as hybrids and the first to develop hybrid cotton back in 1970.

About Cotton Crop:

  • It is a Kharif Crop that comes from the natural fibres of cotton plants, which are native to tropical and subtropical regions.
  • The top five cotton producing countries are China, India, the United States of America, Brazil and Pakistan, which together account for more than three-quarters of global production.
  • Being renewable and biodegradable, cotton is the most environmentally friendly raw material for the textile industry as compared to its synthetic alternatives.
  • Cotton plants have a large growing period which can extend up to 200 days. Growing cotton starts between December and March. These plants require a relatively high temperature (21-30°C) over a long growing season.
  • The cotton is not a thirsty crop as it is a xerophyte, which can grow in dry, arid environments.

Source:  Observer Research Foundation

Previous Year Question

Q.1) “System of Rice Intensification” of cultivation, in which alternate wetting and drying of rice fields is practiced, results in:          (2022)

  1. Reduced seed requirement
  2. Reduced methane production
  3. Reduced electricity consumption

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.2) Among the following, which one is the least water-efficient crop? (2021)

  1. Sugarcane
  2. Sunflower
  3. Pearl millet
  4. Red gram

Aatmanirbhar in Defence production

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Defence/Security

Context: According to a recent study released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI, India ranks fourth among 12 Indo-Pacific nations in self-reliant arms production capabilities.

  • The 12 countries in the study were selected because they have the highest military spending in the region- Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • China tops the list, Japan is second, South Korea is in third place, and Pakistan is at number 8.
  • India is ranked as the second largest importer of arms for its armed forces in 2016-20.

Indian Companies & suppliers:

  • Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Indian Ordnance Factories, Bharat Electronics, Mazagaon Docks and Cochin Shipyard are among the major Indian arms servicing companies.
  • Ashok Leyland, one of the largest suppliers of trucks to the Indian Army, is the only company ranked in the top 50 in the Indo-Pacific.

Aatmanirbhar in defence production:

Make-I Category:

  • Under the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020, ‘Make’ Category aims to achieve self-reliance by involving greater participation of Indian industry.
  • Projects involving design and development of equipment, systems, major platforms or upgrades thereof by the industry can be taken up under this category.

Financial Support:

  • The Ministry of Defence will provide financial support up to 70% of the total cost of prototype development.

Make-II Category:

  • It is funded by industry with assured procurement. The following platform has been listed – Anti-jamming Systems for Multiple Platforms.

Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Model:

  • Under this, private industry will be encouraged to take up the design and development of military platforms and equipment in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other organisations.
  • Following two platforms have been identified under this category.
    • Long Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) [High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE)].
    • Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH).

iDEX:

  • Projects of Start-ups, MSMEs etc. involving high-end innovation would be pursued under the iDEX category and the following platform has been selected under this category –
  • Low Orbit Pseudo Satellites.

Source: Indian Express


Technology eases path for the weary nomads in J&K

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology
  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance)

Context: Jammu and Kashmir’s nomadic community, known as Gujjars and Bakarwals, have been offered smart cards and free transport to aid their biannual migration.

  • The nomadic pastoralists of Jammu and Kashmir, also known as the Gujjar-Bakarwal community are a transhumance community of the Himalayas.
  • Gujjar and Bakarwals are the third largest ethnic group in J&K constitute more than 9% of the total population of the union territory.
  • Around 99.3 per cent population of Gujjar and Bakarwals in J&K follow Islam.
  • They were given the status of Scheduled Tribe in 1991.

Details about the communities:

Gujjars:

  • The Gujjars are traditionally called as Goajar, Gujar and Gurjara.
  • They have their own dialect GOJRI which is a branch of Indo-Aryan dialect and have their own particular customs, workmanship and specialty.

Bakarwals:

  • The term Bakarwals derived from the combination of two terms “Bakri” means goat/ sheep and “wal” meaning “one who take care” of essentially the name “Bakarwal” implies high altitude goats and sheep herders.
  • Bakarwals are primarily pastoral nomads rearing goats and sheep in high altitude of Great Himalayan during summers and spent their winters in plains and foothills of Shivaliks.

Biannual Migration:

  • They undertake a biannual migration with their flock between the pastures of Kashmir and Ladakh during summers, and the plains of Jammu in winters.
  • Historically, they have been known for their immense knowledge of the ecosystems that they traverse.
  • Across their migratory routes, their daily activities benefit the environment as they –
    • Conserve local soil and water,
    • Seasonally maintain the grasslands,
    • Regulate the frequency of forest fires by limiting excessive growth, and
    • Keep invasive plant species in check by weeding them out.

Challenges faced by the community:

  • Gujjar-Bakarwal Tribe of J&K is one of the most backward of all tribes of J&K.
  • Most habitation areas of Gujjar Bakarwals tribe in Jammu and Kashmir are lacking in facilities like –
    • Road communication, electricity, water supply schemes, medical facilities and educational facilities which put Gujjar Bakarwal tribe in lots of hardships and troubles.

Government Initiatives for the community:

  • For the upliftment of Gujjar and Bakarwals community, the government came out with many employment schemes in union territory of Jammu and Ladakh which are as follows –
    • Jawahar Rojgar Yojana
    • Indira Awas Yojana
    • Self-Employment for Educated Unemployed Youth
    • Programs of Execution of Lift Irrigation

Apart from these the following are the other initiatives:

  • J&K’s Tribal Affairs Department had surveyed 98,000 Gujar-Bakarwal families to map their routes and transit locations.
  • Using remote sensing technology and geographic information system, officials delineated pastures and the grazing land in each district.
  • This step was followed by mapping of routes and the migration pattern to understand when Bakerwals and their livestock use the highways.
  • The Tribal Affairs department also collaborated with the Forest Department and the Census Operations Department to provide smart cards to tribal families.
  • Use of Smart Cards :
    • The smart cards will replace the current requirement multiple permissions and offer a unified central database to all the organisations and agencies for smooth and hassle-free movement of families during the biannual vertical migration.
    • Embedded with a chip, the smart card contains demographic details, transit routes, originating place, destination and other vital statistics.
  • A pilot project will cover 10,000 families over the next three months.

Source:  The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Siachen Glacier is situated to the  (2020)

  1. East of Aksai Chin
  2. East of Leh
  3. North of Gilgit
  4. North of Nubra Valley

Risks to GDP Growth

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Economy
  • Mains – GS 3 (Economy)

Context: Recently, the World Bank cut its FY23 (2022-23) gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for India from 7.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent.

  • It was largely due to a deteriorating global scenario. Rising interest rates and slowing external demand will dampen growth over the foreseeable But, even at 6.5 per cent, India will still be a global growth out-performer this year.

Comparison between India’s GDP growth with major economies of world:

  • An examination of the GDP growth data for India and advanced countries over the past two decades leads to two conclusions
    • One, India’s growth cycles are in sync with those of the advanced economies. It implies that India cannot avoid the short-term pain of deceleration in the developed countries. Increasing global interconnectivity only accentuates this effect.
    • Two, the long-term trend rate of GDP growth of advanced economies and India is divergent.
    • For India, it has moved up over time, while for advanced economies it is the other way.
  • So, when assessing India’s growth prospects for this year and next year, it’s important to keep the first conclusion in mind — though, in addition, domestic inflation dynamics and financial conditions will also influence growth outcomes.
  • On the other hand, the long-term trend rate of growth will be influenced by many factors including efficiency-enhancing reforms.

Collective global events and economic situation impacting the growth:

  • A complex interplay of geopolitical events, worryingly high inflation and sharp rate hikes has turned the global environment gloomier — more so for calendar 2023 than 2022
  • As economies moved past the pandemic in early 2022, geopolitical risks emerged and have only escalated since then.
  • S&P Global has recently marked down global growth to 3.1 per cent and 2.4 per cent for 2022 and 2023 respectively.
  • The key contributors to this are the US and Eurozone which are expected to grow at an anaemic 0.2-0.3 per cent in 2023, while China is seen growing 2.7 per cent.
  • A slowing world will hurt India via falling exports. Worse, it may not commensurately bring down prices of crude oil and commodities.

Rising or constant price of crude oil:

  • Typically, global slowdowns soften crude and commodity prices, which eases the burden on India’s imports.
  • However, this time around, the ongoing geopolitical stress is likely to limit the decline in their prices. OPEC’s recent move to cut oil output is an example of how geopolitics is shaping oil prices.
  • From the beginning of this fiscal, geopolitical developments have had an outsized impact on India’s inflation, particularly the wholesale price inflation, which continues to be in double digits and spills over to consumer prices.
  • he Russia-Ukraine dust-up has lifted crude oil and commodity prices and has created volatility for several agricultural commodities. Exporter nations have then imposed trade restrictions. While commodity prices have come off from their highs, volatility and uncertainty about their price trajectory continue.

Inflation around the world:

  • The four-decade high inflation is forcing systemically important central banks such as the Fed and European Central Bank (ECB) to raise interest rates faster and by bigger magnitudes than anticipated earlier.
  • With each 75 basis points hike, the Fed has turned more aggressive on its terminal rate forward guidance. Such hikes in the US have raised the spectre of currency depreciation and imported inflation for India.
  • Although the rupee’s depreciation had been quite orderly so far thanks to the Reserve Bank of India’s deft interventions, the downward pressure has intensified again with the rupee breaching 82/$ last week.
  • A weaker rupee will only make imports expensive. And though global food prices have climbed down, domestic food inflation is moving up.

Slowing global growth impacts on India’s export:

  • Slowing global growth has an immediate impact on India’s exports, which have already started contracting.
  • A 1 per cent decline in global GDP is associated with a 2.3 per cent reduction in exports. But every 1 per cent depreciation in the real effective exchange rate leads to a 1 per cent increase in exports.
  • Thus, the impact of a slowing global economy on exports will overshadow the mild positive impulse from the rupee depreciating. The World Trade Organisation has already lowered global trade volume growth forecasts.

Slow export growth in Consumption-linked sectors and its impact on domestic currency:

  • Consumption-linked sectors such as textiles (readymade garments and home furnishings) and leather are already facing lower export orders.
  • Engineering and electronics goods are also getting hit. But since the domestic growth momentum remains strong, imports are sticky and continue to grow.
  • During April-September this year, while exports have grown by 15.5 per cent, imports grew by 37.8 per cent. This is widening the trade deficit and consequently the current account deficit (CAD).
  • A rising CAD requires more capital flows to finance it. The availability of this in the current risk-off scenario would be a challenge. Thus, the rupee is likely to remain volatile with a depreciation bias in the near term.

Weaking of Covid-19; is a good news for economy:

  • On the domestic front, the good news is that Covid-19 has stopped causing functional disruption in the economy and activity indicators remain strong in the first half of the fiscal.
  • Contact-intensive services are recovering at a fast pace aided by a weak base. It has positive outcomes such as
    • The Purchasing Manager’s Index for services and manufacturing remain in the expansion zone.
    • Bank credit growth is picking up and central government investments are broadly on track.
    • Large and mid-sized corporates enjoy healthy financial profiles and the banking sector is well-capitalised.
  • Capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector has improved as per the RBI’s surveys. This primes up the corporate sector for undertaking investments, but lingering uncertainty will hold them back.

Way Forward:

  • Given so many moving parts and geopolitical complexity, policymakers and market participants have an unenviable task of anticipating turnarounds, and the speed of recovery or downturn.
  • Typically, growth forecasts are heavily influenced by the prevailing macro environment such as Rising interest rates and slowing external demand which hampers the growth in the foreseeable future.
  • These risks will be more pronounced in the second half of this fiscal FY23 (2022-23) and could intensify next fiscal (when the peak impact of rate hikes and the global slowdown will be felt).
  • Therefore, forecasts at this juncture will have a short shelf life and a wider confidence interval (the range of values in which an estimate is expected to fall). This has been amply demonstrated by the slew of revisions in the past few months around the world.

Source:  Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) With reference to the Indian economy, demand-pull inflation can be caused/increased by which of the following? (2021)

  1. Expansionary policies
  2. Fiscal stimulus
  3. Inflation-indexing wages
  4. Higher purchasing power
  5. Rising interest rates

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1, 2 and 4 only
  2. 3, 4 and 5 only
  3. 1, 2, 3 and 5 only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Q.2) Which among the following steps is most likely to be taken at the time of an economic recession?  (2021)

  1. Cut in tax rates accompanied by increase in interest rate
  2. Increase in expenditure on public projects
  3. Increase in tax rates accompanied by reduction of interest rate
  4. Reduction of expenditure on public projects

Palaeogenomics

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology
  • Mains – GS 3 (Science and Technology)

Context: The Nobel Prize for Physiology this year has been awarded to Svante Pääbo, Swedish geneticist, who pioneered the field of Palaeogenomics, or the study of ancient hominins by extracting their DNA.

What is the significance of Pääbo’s work?

  • The study of ancient humans has historically been limited to analysing their bone and objects around them such as weapons, utensils, tools and dwellings.
  • Pääbo pioneered the use of DNA, the genetic blueprint present in all life, to examine questions about the relatedness of various ancient human species.
  • He proved that Neanderthals, a cousin of the human species that evolved 1,00,000 years before humans, interbred with people and a fraction of their genes — about 1-4% — live on in those of European and Asian ancestry.
  • Later on, Pääbo’s lab, after analysing a 40,000-year-old finger bone from a Siberian cave, proved that it belonged to a new species of hominin called Denisova.
  • This was the first time that a new species had been discovered based on DNA analysis and this species too had lived and interbred with humans.

How can DNA be extracted from fossils?

  • The challenge with extracting DNA from fossils is that it degrades fairly quickly and there is little usable material. Because such bones may have passed through several hands, the chances of it being contaminated by human as well as other bacterial DNA get higher. This has been one of the major stumbling blocks to analysing DNA from fossils.
  • One of Pääbo’s early forays was extracting DNA from a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy and while it caused a stir and helped his career, much later in life he said that the mummy-DNA was likely contaminated.
  • DNA is concentrated in two different compartments within the cell: the nucleus and mitochondria, the latter being the powerhouse of the cell.
  • Nuclear DNA stores most of the genetic information, while the much smaller mitochondrial genome is present in thousands of copies and therefore more retrievable.
  • With his techniques, Pääbo managed to sequence a region of mitochondrial DNA from a 40,000-year-old piece of bone. This was the first time a genome from an extinct human relative was pieced together.
  • Subsequently, he managed to extract enough nuclear DNA from Neanderthal bones to publish the first Neanderthal genome sequence in 2010. This was significant considering that the first complete human genome was published only in 2003.

What has Pääbo’s work shown?

  • Pääbo’s most important contribution is demonstrating that ancient DNA can be reliably extracted, analysed and compared with that of other humans and primates to examine what parts of our DNA make one distinctly human or Neanderthal.
  • Comparative analyses with the human genome demonstrated that the most recent common ancestor of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens lived around 8,00,000 years ago.
  • In 2008, a 40,000 year-old fragment from a finger-bone, sourced from a Siberian cave in a region called Denisova, yielded DNA that, analysis from Pääbo’s lab revealed, was from an entirely new species of hominin called Denisova.
  • This was the first time that a new species had been discovered based on DNA analysis.
  • Further analysis showed that they too had interbred with humans and that 6% of human genomes in parts of South East Asia are of Denisovan ancestry.

What are the implications of Palaeogenomics?

  • The study of ancient DNA provides an independent way to test theories of evolution and the relatedness of population groups. In 2018, an analysis of DNA extracted from skeletons at Haryana’s Rakhigarhi — reported to be a prominent Indus Valley civilisation site — provoked an old debate about the indigenousness of ancient Indian population.
  • These fossils, about 4,500 years old, have better preserved DNA than those analysed in Pääbo’s labs as they are about 10-times younger.
  • The Rakhigarhi fossils showed that these Harappan denizens lacked ancestry from Central Asians or Iranian Farmers and stoked a debate on whether this proved or disproved ‘Aryan migration.’
  • Palaeogenomics also gives clues into disease as researchers have analysed dental fossils to glean insights on dental infections.

Source:  The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) The word ‘Denisovan’ is sometimes mentioned in media in reference to  (2019)

  1. fossils of a kind of dinosaurs
  2. an early human species
  3. a cave system found in North-East India
  4. a geological period in the history of Indian subcontinent

Neo-Buddhism

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 1 (Indian Culture and Diversity of India)

In News: Every year in October, thousands of people assemble at Nagpur’s Deekshabhoomi to pay homage to B.R. Ambedkar who converted to Buddhism and remember the historic day of October 14, 1956, when he and half a million of his followers embraced Buddhism.

  • Some 5,000 Tamils of Myanmar accepted Buddhism in Rangoon under the leadership of Chan Htoon, the Justice of the Supreme Court of the Union of Burma in 1956.

Context:

  • Dr B R Ambedkar found Buddhism spiritually satisfying as it preached love and compassion for all (karuna).
  • Moreover, it was in affirmation with principles of liberty, equality and fraternity that guided him throughout his life.
  • He found that Buddhism is rooted in India’s civilization, supplements modern ethical values and is averse to social hierarchies and patriarchal domination.

What is Neo-Buddhism:

  • The Neo Buddhist movement (also known as the Buddhist movement For Dalits, Ambedkarite Buddhist movement or Modern Buddhist movement) is a religious as well as a socio-political movement among Dalits in India which was started by B. R. Ambedkar.
  • Aim: It was proposed as a mass movement that would elevate former ‘Untouchables’ and help them achieve self-respect.  It was hoped that Buddhist principles would mobilise them into a robust community to battle the ruling Brahmanical elites.
  • Theoretically, the neo-Buddhist movement is seen as an ideological and intellectual challenge to the dominant social and political ideas of the ruling elites.

Difference between Buddhism & Neo-Buddhism:

  • It does not accept in totality the scriptures of the Theravada, the Mahayana, or the Vajrayana. Rather, propagates a fourth yana, a Navayana – a kind of modernistic Enlightenment version of the Dhamma.
  • Ambedkar and his idea of Buddhism defy many of the core doctrines of Buddhism. He saw many integral aspects of Buddhist practice as fraudulent and pessimistic. He was particularly against Buddha’s parivaja.
  • According to Ambedkar, the Four Noble Truths are a “gospel of pessimism”, and may have been added into the scriptures by Buddhist monks of a later era.
  • He considered the idea of Anatta (doctrine stating that human beings are soulless) problematic and asked his followers to disregard it.
  • Nirvana, according to Ambedkar is not some other-worldly state of perfect life, highest happiness and salvation or liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. In Ambedkar’s view, nirvana is the socio-political “kingdom of righteousness on Earth” in which people are freed from poverty and social discrimination and empowered to create themselves happy lives.

Role of Neo-Buddhism:

  • Neo-Buddhism emerged as a maverick phenomenon that offered strong psychological solace to the struggling Dalit masses.
  • It came about to be crucial in building a challenge to the dominant narrative of Hindutva.
  • It is the creative application of the neo-Buddhist identity and ideology that has structured the Dalit movement as an autonomous political force in Maharashtra. Deeksha Bhoomi in Nagpur, the place where Ambedkar embraced Buddhism, has emerged as a monumental heritage site, attracting millions of visitors every year.
  • Here, Buddhism was resurrected not only as a part of India’s cultural and civilisational heritage but also as a tool to escape the caste hierarchical cultural hegemony and social hostility.
  • The urban Buddhists marked by educational achievements – have offered vital leadership to Dalit politics
  • Conversion to Buddhism also helped Dalits to find a robust meaning about their cultural past. They reinvented the Buddhist cultural symbols, rituals and practices as the proud markers of their new social identity.

Struggles of Neo-Buddhism:

  • Buddhist cultural assertions and claims over public spaces became the symbols of their rejection against Hindu cultural hegemony and its social tentacles. Such assertiveness often put them in opposition with right-wing ideologies.
  • Today, the Buddhist population in India is one of the smallest minorities. Its ideological challenge against the Hindu social order has not been taken seriously, and even within the Dalit community, conversion to Buddhism is not perceived as a suitable path to achieve social emancipation.
  • A large majority (close to 80%) of Indian Buddhists resides in Maharashtra. However, it is mainly the Mahar caste, Matang and the Maratha castes which have identified themselves as neo-Buddhists. Other socially marginalised groups are still defined by Hindu caste nomenclatures and traditional occupations.
  • The Dalit socio-political movements in States including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have also not promoted conversion to Buddhism and there is hesitation in suggesting religious conversion as an alternative to fight the battle for social justice.
  • Even in States where the Scheduled Caste population is relatively high, such as in Punjab, West Bengal and Odisha, Dalits have shown restraint in adopting Buddhism to challenge their social location.
  • India’s neighbouring Buddhist countries also have not identified neo-Buddhists as significant partners in their theological engagements.
  • Several Buddhist countries have built their own pagodas and temples in Bodh Gaya and are more concerned with adding new sites in India’s Buddhist Circuit.
  • Certain individuals and Buddhist associations from Japan, Thailand and the U.K. have established some close links with the neo-Buddhists of Maharashtra, but this is small support.
  • The current Opposition lacks effective cultural strategies to challenge right-wing assertion. Instead, it still uses the same old formal electoral strategies.

Current government’s actions:

  • The Centre has presented itself as the promoter of Buddhist cultural heritage at the national and international levels.
  • In overseas diplomatic gatherings, Prime Minister of India has frequently invoked India’s ancient Buddhist identity and shared Buddhist heritage with countries, especially China, Nepal, Myanmar and Japan.
  • He also visited Deekshabhoomi in 2017, paid rich tributes to Ambedkar and announced multiple developmental projects.
  • Prime Minister inaugurated Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh, which will help connect important Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Kushinagar is an important Buddhist pilgrim destination.
  • It is his government that proposed a Buddhist Circuit.

Way forward:

Revisiting the ideals of Ambedkar’s neo-Buddhist movement can be helpful in building fierce ideological challenges to Hindutva’s understanding of history and culture.

MUST READ: Buddhist Philosophy

Source:  The Hindu


Baba’s Explainer – Moonlighting Debate

Moonlighting Debate

Syllabus

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • GS-3: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. 

Context: Recently, there has been a growing debate on the issue of moonlighting where certain companies have openly opposed it while others have supported it.

Read Complete Details on Moonlighting Debate


Daily Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) With reference to Super Apps, consider the following statements.

  1. They enable access to suite of services over a single digital platform.
  2. It is accessed and controlled through various personal accounts.
  3. Indonesia has recently launched its first Super App, called WeChat.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.2) With reference to Indian agriculture, consider the following states:

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Gujarat
  3. Maharashtra
  4. Telangana

How many of the above are generally known as Cotton Producing States?

  1. One state only
  2. Two states only
  3. Three states only
  4. All four states

Q.3) The Nobel Prize for Physiology 2022 has been awarded to Svante Pääbo for his pioneering work in the field of

  1. Palaeontology
  2. Palaeogenomics
  3. Biostratigraphy
  4. Bioluminescence

Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!!

ANSWERS FOR ’10th October 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.


ANSWERS FOR 8th October – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – d

Q.2) – b

Q.3) – a

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