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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 4th November 2022

  • IASbaba
  • November 4, 2022
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(PRELIMS & MAINS Focus)


Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Interceptor

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

Context: Recently ,Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted a successful maiden flight-test of Phase-II Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) interceptor.

About AD-1 missile:

  • It is a long-range interceptor missile designed for both low exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric interception of long-range ballistic missiles as well as aircraft.
  • It is propelled by a two-stage solid motor and equipped with an indigenously-developed advanced control system, navigation and guidance algorithm to precisely guide the vehicle to the target.
  • Relevance : it is a unique type of interceptor with advanced technologies available with a very few nations in the world and it will further strengthen the country’s BMD capability to the next level.

Source:  Indian Express


One nation, One ITR Form

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Economy

Context: Recently, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has proposed a single income tax return (ITR) form for all taxpayers. 

About ITR forms :

  • There are seven kinds of ITR forms, which are used by different categories of taxpayers. They are as follows:
    • ITR Form 1, called ‘Sahaj’, is for small and medium taxpayers. Sahaj forms can be filed by individuals who have an income up to Rs 50 lakh, with earnings from salary, one house property/ other sources (interest etc).
    • ITR-2 is filed by people with income from residential property.
    • ITR-3 is intended for people who have income as profits from business/ profession
    • ITR-4 (Sugam) is, like ITR-1 (Sahaj), simple forms, and can be filed by individuals, Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs) and firms with total income up to Rs 50 lakh from business and profession.
    • ITR-5 and 6 are for limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and businesses respectively.
    • ITR-7 is filed by trusts and non-profit organisations.

Changes that has been proposed:

  • All taxpayers, barring trusts and non-profit organisations (ITR-7), will be able to use a common ITR form, which will include a separate head for disclosure of income from virtual digital assets.

Rationale behind bringing one Nation one OTR form:

  • The proposed draft ITR takes a relook at the return filing system in tandem with international best practices.
  • The draft form aims to make it easier to file returns, and to considerably reduce the time taken for the job by individuals and non-business-type taxpayers.
  • It intends the smart design of schedules in a user-friendly manner with a better arrangement, logical flow, and increased scope of pre-filling.
  • It will also facilitate the proper reconciliation of third-party data available with the Income-Tax department vis-à-vis the data to be reported in the ITR to reduce the compliance burden on the taxpayers.

About Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT):

Functions and Organization:

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.
  • The officials of the Board in their ex-officio capacity also function as a Division of the Ministry dealing with matters relating to levy and collection of direct taxes.

Historical Background of C.B.D.T.:

  • The Central Board of Revenue as the apex body of the Department, charged with the administration of taxes, came into existence as a result of the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1924.
  • Initially the Board was in charge of both direct and indirect taxes. However, when the administration of taxes became too unwieldy for one Board to handle, the Board was split up into two, namely the Central Board of Direct Taxes and Central Board of Excise and Customs with effect from 1.1.1964.
  • This bifurcation was brought about by constitution of two Boards u/s 3 of the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.

Composition and Functions of CBDT:

The Central Board of Direct Taxes consists of a chairman and following six Members: –

  • Chairman
  • Member (Income Tax & Revenue)
  • Member (Legislation)
  • Member (Admn.)
  • Member (investigation)
  • Member (TPS & system)
  • Member (Audit & Judicial)

Source:  Indian Express

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) With reference to the ‘Banks Board Bureau (BBB)’, which of the following statements are correct? (2022)

  1. The Governor of RBI is the Chairman of BBB.
  2. BBB recommends for the selection of heads for Public Sector Banks.
  3. BBB helps the Public Sector Banks in developing strategies and capital raising plans.

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

Mt. Mauna Loa

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Geography

Context: The ground is shaking and swelling at Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world, indicating that it could erupt.

About Mauna Loa:

  • Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that together make up the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the southernmost island in the Hawaiian archipelago.
  • It’s not the tallest (that title goes to Mauna Kea) but it’s the largest and makes up about half of the island’s land mass.
  • Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago.
  • In written history, dating to 1843, it’s erupted 33 times.
  • Mauna Loa has a much larger magma reservoir than Kilauea, which may allow it to hold more lava and rest longer between eruptions than Kilauea.
  • Hawaii volcanoes like Mauna Loa tend not to have explosion eruptions.
    • That’s because their magma is hotter, drier and more fluid.
  • The gas in the magma of Hawaii’s volcanoes tends to escape, and so lava flows down the side of their mountains when they erupt.
  • Hawaii’s volcanoes are called shield volcanoes because successive lava flows over hundreds of thousands of years build broad mountains that resemble the shape of a warrior’s shield.

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) Consider the following pairs:

Region often mentioned in the news:   Country

  1. Anatolia Turkey
  2. Amhara Ethiopia
  3. Cabo Delgado Spain
  4. Catalonia Italy

How many pairs given above are correctly matched?

  1. Only one pair
  2. Only two pairs
  3. Only three pairs
  4. All four pairs

Q.2) Consider the following pairs:

Town sometime mentioned in news         Country

  1. Aleppo                                                        Syria
  2. Kirkuk                                                        Yemen
  3. Mosul                                                         Palestine
  4. Mazar-i-Sharif                                         Afghanistan

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched? (2018)

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 1 and 4
  3. 2 and 3
  4. 3 and 4

Performance Grading Index

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs

In news: The Education Ministry on Thursday released the latest edition of the Performance Grading Index (PGI) report for the academic year 2020-21.

About:

  • It is a new index that measures the performance of states and union territories on a uniform scale to analyse the transformational change in the field of school education.
  • There are five parameters on which performances are graded – learning outcome, access, equity, infrastructure facilities and governance process.
  • The PGI report is generated through existing Management Information System platforms such as Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE), National Achievement Survey (NAS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM), from where information is gathered.
  • The infrastructure facilities domain includes measures such as providing safe infrastructure, working toilets, clean drinking water, clean and attractive spaces, electricity, computing devices, internet, libraries, and sports and recreational resources, among others.
  • The governance process domain, aims to capture the performance of all states/UTs through indicators such as making use of IT instead of human interface, digital attendance of students, teachers, transfer of funds digitally, time taken by the state government to release the funds, filling vacancies and transfer of teachers through transparent online systems, availability of digital facilities, timely availability of textbooks and uniforms — which are critical inputs for better performance of students — are also measured in this domain.

Findings:

  • Maharashtra has been ranked first, along with Punjab and Kerala.
  • The state has a total score of 928/1000, elevating it to the top position from the eighth rank it had last year.
  • Maharashtra has shown considerable improvement in domains such as infrastructure facilities and governance processes.
  • MH’s score in infrastructure domain jumped to 143/150 from 126/150 in the year 2019-20.
  • MH’s score in governance process domain, jumped to 340/360 from only 299/360 last year.

Source: Indian Express


Rhinos

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Environment

In news: According to a recent study, published in the latest edition of People and Nature by the British Ecological Society, which used an interesting research approach—analysing artwork and photographs of the animal spanning more than five centuries.

  • It relied on a repository of images maintained by the Netherlands-based Rhino Research Centre (RRC).

Major Findings:

  • Found evidence for declining horn length over time across species, perhaps related to selective pressure of hunting, and indicating a utility for image-based approaches in understanding societal perceptions of large vertebrates and trait evolution
  • The horns of rhinoceroses may have become smaller over time due to the impact of hunting.
  • The study found that the rate of decline in horn length was highest in the critically-endangered Sumatran rhino and lowest in the white rhino of Africa, which is the most commonly found species both in the wild and in captivity.
  • This observation follows patterns seen in other animals, such as tusk size in elephants and horn length in wild sheep, which have been driven down by directional selection due to trophy hunting.
  • During the age of European imperialism (between the 16th and 20th centuries), rhinos were commonly portrayed as hunting trophies, but since the mid-20th century, they have been increasingly portrayed in a conservation context, reflecting a change in emphasis from a more to less consumptive relationship between humans and rhinos.
  • The Indian rhino featured more in early artwork, but the number of images of other species, particularly white rhinos, has increased since the mid-19th century.

About Rhinos:

  • Rhinos have long been hunted for their horns, which are highly valued in some cultures.
  • The five surviving rhino species (Black and White African rhino, Asian rhino species – greater one horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos) are still threatened by habitat loss and hunting.
  • IUCN Status:
  • Greater one horned Rhino: Vulnerable
  • Sumatran Rhino: Critically Endangered
  • Javan Rhino: Vulnerable
  • Black African Rhino: Critically Endangered
  • White African Rhino: Near Threatened

Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros:

  • Also known as Indian rhino, it is the largest of the rhino species.
  • India is home to the largest number of Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros in the world.
  • At present, there are about 2,600 Indian rhinos in India, with more than 90% of the population concentrated in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.

Habitat:

  • The species is restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and northern West Bengal and Assam.
  • In India, rhinos are mainly found in
  • Kaziranga NP, Pobitora WLS, Orang NP, Manas NP in Assam,
  • Jaldapara NP and Gorumara NP in West Bengal
  • Dudhwa TR in Uttar Pradesh.

Threats:

  • Poaching for the horns
  • Habitat loss
  • Population density
  • Decreasing Genetic diversity

Protection Status:

  • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.
  • CITES: Appendix-I
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I.

Source:  The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2019)

  1. Asiatic lion is naturally found in India only.
  2. Double-humped camel is naturally found in India only.
  3. One-horned rhinoceros is naturally found in India only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Gangetic Dolphins

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Environment

In News: Dolphins have started coming back to the Ganga River with improvement in the quality of its water through the Namami Gange programme, said the Uttar Pradesh government.

  • With the completion of 23 projects under the ambitious programme started in 2014, the State has successfully stopped flowing of more than 460 MLD of sewage into the Ganga in the State.

About:

  • Dolphins have also been seen breeding in Brijghat, Narora, Kanpur, Mirzapur and Varanasi, which is likely to increase their number further in the coming days.
  •  At present, the population of dolphins in Ganga in Uttar Pradesh is estimated to be around 600.
  • There has been a lot of improvement in dissolved oxygen (DO), biochemical demand (BOD) and faecal coliform (FC) parameters as well,
  • As per the assessment of river water quality, pH (how acidic the water was) at 20 locations met the water quality criteria for bathing.

The Namami Ganga programme:

  • It was launched in 2014 with the objective to rejuvenate Ganga by adopting an integrated approach which focused on the interception and diversion of sewage by tapping the drains flowing into the river Ganga.
  • Under the aegis of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) & State Program Management Groups (SPMGs) States and Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj institutions will be involved in this project.
  • Chacha Chaudhary is the declared Mascot.
  • NEED:
  • Rising in the Himalayas and flowing to the Bay of Bengal, the river traverses a course of more than 2,500 km through the plains of north and eastern India.
  • The Ganga basin – which also extends into parts of Nepal, China and Bangladesh – accounts for 26 per cent of India’s landmass.
  • The Ganga also serves as one of India’s holiest rivers whose cultural and spiritual significance transcends the boundaries of the basin.
  • Rapidly increasing population, rising standards of living and exponential growth of industrialization and urbanization have exposed water resources to various forms of degradation.
  • The deterioration in the water quality of Ganga impacts the people immediately.
  • Major components of the project will be Wetland inventory and assessment, Wetland management planning, Wetland’s monitoring, and Capacity development and outreach.
  • Aims at creating a knowledge base and capacities for effective management of floodplain wetlands in the 12 Ganga districts in Bihar to ensure sustained provision of wetlands ecosystem services and securing biodiversity habitats.

MUST READ National Mission for Clean Ganga

MUST READ Gangetic River dolphin

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) is a standard criterion for (2017)

  1. Measuring oxygen levels in blood
  2. Computing- oxygen levels in forest ecosystems
  3. Pollution assay in aquatic ecosystems
  4. Assessing oxygen levels in high altitude regions

Black Sea Grain Initiative

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Economy

In News: Russia has re-joined the Black Sea Grain deal.

  • United States and Ukraine are accusing Russia of using food exports as a means to strengthen its position in the war.
  • The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO) Food Price Index, which assesses the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities, fell for the sixth consecutive month in a row this October.

Black Sea Grain deal:

  • Aims to limit food price inflation emanating from supply chain disruptions because of Russian actions in the world’s ‘breadbasket’ by ensuring an adequate supply of grains.
  • The deal, brokered by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey, was signed in Istanbul in July 2022.
  • Initially stipulated for a period of 120 days, with an option to extend or terminate, the deal was to provide for a safe maritime humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian exports (particularly for food grains) from three of its key ports, namely, Chornomorsk, Odesa and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.

Features:

  • A Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), comprising senior representatives from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UN for oversight and coordination.
  • All commercial ships are required to register directly with the JCC to ensure appropriate monitoring, inspection and safe passage. Inbound and outbound ships (to the designated corridor) transit as per a schedule accorded by the JCC post-inspection. This is done so as to ensure there is no unauthorised cargo or personnel onboard. Following this, they are allowed to sail onwards to Ukrainian ports for loading through the designated corridor.
  • All ships, once inside the Ukrainian territorial waters, are subject to the nation’s authority and responsibility.
  • Should there be any requirement for removing explosives, a minesweeper from another country would be required to sweep the approaches to the Ukrainian ports, in other words, accompany the vessel with tugboats.
  • Moreover, in order to avoid provocations and untoward incidents, it is mandated that monitoring be done remotely.
  • No military ships or unmanned aerial vehicles can approach the corridor closer than a pre-decided distance agreed upon by the JCC. This too would require consultation with the parties and authorisation of the JCC.

Significance:

  • Ukraine is among the largest exporters of wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, globally.
  • Its access to the deep-sea ports in the Black Sea enables it to directly approach Russia and Europe along with grain importers from the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Russia’s action in the East European country has now disturbed this route, earlier used to ship 75% of its agricultural exports – precisely what the initiative sought to address.
  • The initiative has been credited for having made a “huge difference” to the global cost of living crisis.
  • The initiative alone cannot address global hunger; it can only avert the chances of the global food crisis spiralling further.
  • As per the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, approximately 9.8 million tonnes of grains have been shipped since the initiative was commenced.
  • People hoarding the grain in the hope of selling it for a sizeable profit owing to the supply crunch were now obligated to sell.

Concerns on suspension of deal:

  • Re-introduce the price pressures on grain prices, especially that of wheat, with inventory being at historical lows.
  • It could particularly impact countries in the Middle East and Africa such as Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen which have benefitted from the resumption and are particularly dependent on Russian and Ukrainian exports.
  • Storage facilities in Ukraine are already at capacity even as farmers turn to harvest the crops planted in spring. This, combined with restricted export opportunities, implies lower prices for farmers even as shortfalls spur prices globally. Lower prices will bring some Ukrainian farmers to the verge of bankruptcy and create further disincentives to plant for the next crop year.
  • Ukrainian farmers are likely to cut the winter grain sowing area by at least 30%.
  • Ukraine typically accounted for about 10% of global wheat exports before the war, the effect on global markets is akin to back-to-back droughts over three years in a major wheat-producing region, and it likely means that global stocks will not recover for at least another year. Thus, tight stocks are expected to cause higher prices and keep markets volatile.

Source: The Hindu


ASHA Workers: A Ray of hope for Rural India

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Governance
  • Mains – GS 1 (Role of women and women’s Organizations) and GS 2 (Governance)

Context: With the Covid-19 pandemic on halt the plight of ASHA workers is in focus, they were the real warrior during these tough times.

About ASHA workers:

  • ASHA workers are volunteers from within the community who are trained to provide information and aid people in accessing benefits of various healthcare schemes of the government.
  • They act as a bridge connecting marginalised communities with facilities such as primary health centres, sub-centres and district hospitals.
  • The role of these community health volunteers was first established in 2005 under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
  • ASHAs are primarily married, widowed, or divorced women between the ages of 25 and 45 years from within the community.
  • They must have good communication and leadership skills; should be literate with formal education up to Class 8, as per the programme guidelines.
  • They are selected by and accountable to the gram panchayat (local government).

Roles and responsibilities of ASHA workers:

Awareness Creation:

  • They go door-to-door in their designated areas creating awareness about basic nutrition, hygiene practices, and the health services available.
  • They focus primarily on ensuring that women undergo ante-natal check-ups, maintain nutrition during pregnancy, deliver at a healthcare facility, and provide post-birth training on breastfeeding and complementary nutrition of children.

Screening of Infections and timely Medications:

  • They are also tasked with screening for infections like malaria during the season.
  • They also provide basic medicines and therapies to people under their jurisdiction such as oral rehydration solution, chloroquine for malaria, iron folic acid tablets to prevent anaemia, and contraceptive pills.
  • Now, they also get people tested and get their reports for non-communicable diseases.
  • Other than mother and child care, ASHA workers also provide medicines daily to TB patients under directly observed treatment of the national programme.

Counselling of Women and Children:

  • They counsel women about contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections.
  • ASHA workers are also tasked with ensuring and motivating children to get immunised.

Challenges facing by ASHA Workers:

  • One of the biggest issues facing rural health services is lack of information.
  • Another area of concern is the lack of resources.
  • Medical facilities are understaffed and lack adequate equipment for various basic procedures like deliveries. Simple tests, like for sickle cell anaemia and HIV, cannot be conducted.
  • Social Stigma and Humiliation: ASHA workers often experience stigma not only in public space but also in the private sphere; there is often pressure from there to discontinue their work due to very low honorarium.
    • Even from the patients’ families, they often suffer allegations of not doing their job properly.
    • An even more disheartening fact is that ASHA workers have to experience sexual harassment during field visits.
  • Hostile Attitudes: ASHAs report hostile attitudes of the communities they serve due to the breakdown of social relations, trauma due to displacement, and loss of family members, particularly their husbands.
  • Demotivating Service Conditions: Lack of further career prospects and adequate service conditions of frontline workers in Anganwadi Centres such as Anganwadi workers (AWWs), ASHAs and ANMs.
  • No Permanent Job: The workers do not have permanent jobs with comprehensive retirement benefits like other government staff.

Way Forward:

  • The goal for the next 25 years should be to funnel resources and attention into rural India.
  • Channels of communication between the government and the rural population need to be robust.
  • A deadly pandemic makes the value of these channels obvious — but in order to get people on board, information needs to be sent out much more effectively and in a hands-on manner.

Even though they contribute significantly to better health outcomes, the ASHA workforce continues to protest across the country, for better remuneration, health benefits and permanent posts. It is the duty of the governmental agencies that employ them to ensure their welfare, safety and security.

Source:  Indian Express


World’s Biosphere Footprint

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Environment and Ecology
  • Mains – GS 3 (Environment and Ecology)

Context: Since from 2022, November 3 is celebrated as  ‘The International Day for Biosphere Reserves’.

About World Network of Biosphere Reserves:

  • The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) was formed in 1971.
  • WNBR covers internationally designated protected areas, known as biosphere reserves, which are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature (e.g., encourage sustainable development).
  • They are created under the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).
  • All biosphere reserves are internationally recognised sites on land, at the coast, or in the oceans.
  • There are 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites. They are distributed as follows:
    • 90 sites in 33 countries in Africa
    • 36 sites in 14 countries in the Arab States
    • 172 sites in 24 countries in Asia and the Pacific
    • 308 sites in 41 countries in Europe and North America
    • 132 sites in 22 countries Latin America and the Caribbean.

Nomination & approval of biosphere reserves:

  • Governments alone decide which areas to nominate.
  • Before approval by UNESCO, the sites are externally examined.
  • If approved, they will be managed based on a plan, reinforced by credibility checks while remaining under the sovereignty of their national government.

Functions of Biosphere Reserves:

  • Biosphere Reserves involve local communities and all interested stakeholders in planning and management. They integrate three main “functions”:
  • Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity
  • Economic development that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable
  • Logistic support, underpinning development through research, monitoring, education and training.

Structure of Biosphere Reserve:

They are demarcated into the following 3 interrelated zones:

Core Zone:

  • Includes protected areas, as they act as reference points on the natural state of the ecosystems represented by the biosphere reserves. Have endemic species of plants & animals.
  • A core zone is a protected region, like a National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • It is kept free from human interference.

Buffer Zone:

  • The buffer zone surrounds the core zone and its activities are managed in this area in ways that help in the protection of the core zone in its natural condition.
  • It includes restoration, limited tourism, fishing, grazing, etc; which are permitted to reduce its effect on the core zone.
  • Research and educational activities are to be encouraged.

Transition Zone:

  • It is the outermost part of the biosphere reserve. It is the zone of cooperation where human ventures and conservation are done in harmony.
  • It includes settlements, croplands, managed forests and areas for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region.

Biosphere Reserves in India:

Need for expansion:

  • According to the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released in 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the main global drivers of biodiversity loss are:
    • Climate change,
    • Invasive species,
    • Over-exploitation of natural resources,
    • Pollution and
  • The ecological carrying capacity of planet earth has largely been exceeded because of our collective excesses.
  • Therefore, the need was felt to address this trend with cleaner air, high-quality drinking water, and enough food and healthy habitats to ensure that ecosystem services continue to benefit humanity without critically affecting nature’s balance.

Way Forward:

  • The ‘South and Central Asia MAB Reserve’ Networking Meeting (where MAB stands Man and the Biosphere) is planned for 2023, to advance biosphere reserve establishment and management.
  • In addition, an expert mission has been planned for spring 2023 — to Bhutan, India’s north-east and the Sundarbans in Bangladesh.

With at least one biosphere reserve per country in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal until 2025 (with additional biosphere reserves in India’s North-East and along the coasts) it will give realisation to millions of people that a better future is truly possible — one where we will truly live in harmony with nature.

Source: The Hindu


Agnipath Military Recruitment Scheme

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 Government Schemes

Context:

  • India’s military has historically been an all-volunteer force. Unlike in the West, India’s armed forces are perceived as a lodestar of patriotism and a source of pride as well as critical to nation-building.
  • There is no dearth of potential recruits for military service. Working in the military is a matter of social prestige. Many communities in India rely heavily on the military for employment.
  • At the same time, the challenges faced by Western militaries in implementing such an enlistment mechanism hold lessons for India as it puts the Agnipath scheme into practice.
  • In introducing the Agnipath scheme, India is pursuing a global trend, as militaries respond to changes not only in the national security threat landscape but the job market dynamics as well.

About the scheme:

  • It is a radical departure from India’s past recruitment policies.
  • Announced in June 2022, it is a short-term military enlistment scheme seeking to recruit young Indians into the military with four-year tenure.
  • These, called ‘Agniveers’, will form a rank in the Indian military that is distinct from existing ones.
  • Indians in the age group of 17.5 to 21 years will be eligible for recruitment.
  • 46,000 combatants or ‘Agniveers’ will be recruited annually: 40,000 for the Army and 3,000 each for the Navy and the Air Force.
  • They will receive military training and learn leadership and other skills.
  •  Monthly compensation and benefits like insurance and a retirement package.
  • Every retiring Agniveers can apply for permanent enrolment in the military, but only a maximum of 25 percent of Agniveers will be retained from every batch and will have to serve for a minimum of 15 years thereafter.
  • They will be governed by the existing terms and conditions of service of junior commissioned officers/other ranks in the Indian Army and their equivalent in the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF), as well as that of non-combatants in the IAF.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has opened an additional recruitment opportunity for retiring Agniveers by reserving 10 percent of vacancies for them in the central armed police forces and the Assam Rifles.
  • 10-percent reservation for Agniveers in the coast guard, defence civilian posts, and defence public sector units.

Significance:

  • Agnipath promises a structural overhaul by reopening the debate on ‘affordable defence’.
  • The heavy costs of maintenance of the soldiers in the armed forces have raised concerns.
  • Indian defence planners are expected to devote more resources for modernisation and increased investments in areas such as cyber, space, and emerging technologies.
  • If the scheme succeeds in its initial phase, it will guarantee its efficacy in the coming years and shape the perception of potential recruits.
  • With the provision to retain 25 percent of the Agniveers permanently, Indian defence planners will be able to retain the best talent catering to these requirements.
  • Moreover, the four-year service period envisioned under the scheme could make it attractive to wider segments of the population, including those young people who are hesitant to make a long-term commitment to the military.

Western Militaries context:

  • Conscription or draft was the norm for military recruitment across the world, and India was among the few exceptions.
  • For example, Russia and China
  • China has created a new category of non-ranking cadres called ‘contract civilians’, who perform civilian jobs for the military such as research, translation, and engineering. Additionally, recent military recruitment reforms have focused on STEM graduates and those with “skills needed for war preparedness”.
  • European countries are transitioning to voluntary recruitment which has resulted in a dramatic downsizing of the armed forces.
  • Germany: the volunteers, who must be at least 17 years old, are offered initial contracts from seven to 23 months, without any longer-term obligation.
  • UK: The minimum length of service for those above 18 is four years, and for those below, until they turn 22. its military’s struggle to find new recruits is reflected in the army’s refusal to raise the minimum age of recruitment i.e. 16.
  • France: The military does get a sufficient number of recruits and it faces challenges in retaining them for additional contracts. This is a critical issue, as soldiers spend most of their first contract receiving training and reach their optimum potential only from the second contract.
  • US: To attract young people away from civilian jobs, the US Army offers incentives such as college funding, enlistment bonuses, retirement pension for recruits and sign-up bonus.
  • US shifted from compulsory draft to the volunteer-based recruitment began in 1973 due to following factors of change:
  • a mismatch between the population eligible for conscription and the military’s requirements
  • diminished threat perception of the West following the end of the Cold War.
  • changing nature of the job market, where employable youth are not predominantly dependent on government jobs especially for STEM graduates.
  • Shrinking pool of potential enlistees – 71 percent of American youth are ineligible for military service due to obesity, use of narcotics, physical and mental health problems, misconduct, or lack of aptitude.
  • Benefits: The militaries saved millions in draftee turnover (recruits leaving the military after their mandatory service) and their training costs.
  • However, rise in simultaneous disinclination to serve in the military due to rise in average incomes and general economic prosperity, better pay in the civilian sectors, and the growing desire for a comfortable life.
  • The value system had also begun to change, problematising violence and viewing the military as a bastion of conservative values.
  • In Germany, military service had become a contentious issue given the legacy of the Nazi regime during the Second World War.

Concerns:

  • Combat potential and operational preparedness of the military, given the short six-month training period.
  • The difficulties and inability in getting suitable jobs post-military service.
  • However, the scheme’s potential ability to attract STEM talent remains debatable, given the average take-home monthly salary of INR 21,000 (approximately US$ 250) of an Agniveers with no gratuity or pension.[4

Suggestions:

  • Personnel-centric concerns such as value addition, by filtering the long-term recruits from the short-term ones.
  • Bringing in more technology for training purposes, including more simulations, can help achieve ‘more in less’.
  • Expand quotas for Agniveers in select government services and a change in mindsets by considering former service personnel as ‘skill-centred managers’.
  • Invest more significant financial resources, ensure better service conditions, and devise an entry scheme for the tech savvy (perhaps as the subset of Agnipath) that will attract STEM talent. (In China, defence planners plan to offer science and engineering students, long-term enlistments rather than letting them leave the military after serving for two years).

Way forward:

  • Militaries have implemented structural reforms in response to geopolitical shifts, and the changing nature of warfare and the national security threat landscape.
  • The Indian experience of Agnipath scheme will be unique given the size of its armed forces and its young demography.
  • As India seeks to reorient its strategic outlook to find a continental-maritime balance, it is important that technology gains centre space, even as the demands of combat, capacities, and training are changing.
  • The scheme’s real test will lie not only in its capacity to offer military service experience to young people but also in its ability to reintegrate the Agniveers into civilian life after their four-year tenure. It will bring a bigger proportion of youth with military experience into the job market than seen previously.

Source: Orf Online


Baba’s Explainer – COP26 a year later

COP26 a year later

Syllabus

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 
  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 

Context: A year ago at the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, countries, banks and business leaders announced a slew of climate plans and pledges. Here is an update on how some of the biggest promises have since progressed.

Read Complete Details on COP26 a year later


Daily Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) Consider the following statements:

  1. Performance Grading Index (PGI) is an initiative of the Pratham Education Foundation.
  2. In 2020-21, Kerela has been ranked first.
  3. Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Survey is released by the Ministry of Education.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1, 2 and 3
  4. None

Q.2) With reference to Indian Rhinos, consider the following statements:

  1. They are omnivores and live primarily in India and Nepal.
  2. They are excellent swimmers but have poor eyesight.
  3. The females are larger than the males.
  4. Among the States in India, the highest elephant population is in Assam.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements regarding World Network of Biosphere Reserves:

  1. Every year November 3 is celebrated as ‘The International Day for Biosphere Reserves’ since 1971.
  2. India has 14 internationally recognised Biosphere Reserves.
  3. They are created under the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

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

ANSWERS FOR ’4th November 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st


ANSWERS FOR 3rd November – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – a

Q.2) – c

Q.3) – d

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