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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 6th December 2022

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  • December 6, 2022
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Directorate of Revenue Intelligence’s (DRI) 65th Founding Day

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Economy

Context: Recently the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the apex anti-smuggling intelligence and investigation agency functioning under the aegis of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), celebrated its 65th Foundation Day at New Delhi.

  • The Union Minister for Finance released the “Smuggling in India Report 2021-22” which analyses trends such as Smuggling of Gold, Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, wildlife etc., Commercial Frauds and International enforcement operations & cooperation.

About Directorate of Revenue Intelligence’s (DRI):

  • The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence is the apex anti-smuggling agency of India, working under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
  • It was constituted on 4th December, 1957.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • The DRI has also been designated as the lead agency for Anti-Smuggling National Coordination Centre (SCord).
  • It is tasked with detecting and curbing smuggling of contraband, including drug trafficking and illicit international trade in wildlife and environmentally sensitive items, as well as combating commercial frauds related to international trade and evasion of Customs duty.

Source: PIB


Dr. Rajendra Prasad

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – History/Personalities

Context: Prime Minister of India pays tributes to Rajendra Prasad on his birth anniversary on 3rd December 2022.

About Dr. Rajendra Prasad:

Personal Life:

  • Birth: He was born on 3rd December 1884 in the Siwan district of Bihar.
  • Education: He joined the famed Calcutta Presidency College in 1902. After completing his Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Calcutta in 1907, he went on to study law at the Calcutta Law College and practised at the Calcutta High Court.
  • He completed his Doctorate in Law from Allahabad University in 1937.
  • In the early 1920s, he became the editor of a Hindi weekly Desh and an English biweekly, Searchlight.

Indian National Movement:

  • Prasad attended the 1906 Calcutta session of Indian National Congress.
  • He joined the party in 1911 and later elected to the All India Congress Committee after which he met Mahatma Gandhi.
  • He was highly impressed by Mahatma Gandhi and he supported Gandhi during the Satyagraha Movement against Indigo Planters in Champaran, Bihar.
  • He later quit his lucrative career as a lawyer in 1920 and jumped into Freedom Struggle Movement and participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • He led the Non-Cooperation Movement in Bihar holding meetings, touring state and making speeches. He urged people to boycott government schools, colleges, jobs.
  • He started the National College in Patna in 1921 to promote Swadeshi asking people to boycott foreign goods.
  • He set up the Quetta Central Relief Committee in Sindh and Punjab under his own presidency after 1935 Quetta Earthquake.
  • Prasad was elected as the President of the Bombay Session of the Indian National Congress in October 1934.
  • He was also elected as the President for second time in 1939 after Subhash Chandra Bose resigned from his post and third time President of INC in 1947 when J.B.Kripalani resigned from his post.
  • Prasad was arrested several times during the national struggle and imprisoned by British authorities during the Salt Satyagraha of 1931 and the Quit India Movement of 1942.

Contribution to Constitution Making:

  • In 1946, Rajendra Prasad joined the Interim Government of India as the Minister of Food and Agriculture.
  • As a firm believer in the maximization of agricultural production, he crafted the slogan “Grow More Food.”
  • He was elected as a member of the Constituent Assembly from the Bihar Province where he served as the president of the Constituent Assembly from 1946 to 1950.
  • On 24th January 1950, at the last session of the Constituent Assembly, Prasad was elected as the President of India and has the distinction of being the only President to have been re-elected for a second term.
  • Committees of Constituent Assembly under the chairmanship of Dr. Prasad includes:
    • Ad hoc Committee on the National flag
    • Committee on the Rules of Procedure
    • Finance and Staff Committee
    • Steering Committee

Literary Works:

  • Satyagraha at Champaran (1922)
  • India Divided (1946)
  • Atmakatha (1946) his autobiography written during his 3 year prison term in Bankipur Jail
  • Mahatma Gandhi and Bihar, Some Reminiscences (1949)
  • Bapu Ke Kadmon Mein (1954)
  • Since Independence (1960)

Source:  The Hindu

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) Who among the following was associated as Secretary with Hindu Female School which later came to be known as Bethune Female School? (2022)

  1. Annie Besant
  2. Debandranath Tagore
  3. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
  4. Sarojini Naidu

Q.2) He wrote biographies of Mazzini, Garibaldi, Shivaji and Shrikrishna; stayed in America for some time; and was also elected to the Central Assembly. He was                  (2018)

  1. Aurobindo Ghosh
  2. Bipin Chandra Pal
  3. Lala Lajpat Rai
  4. Motilal Nehru

Soil health

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Syllabus

  • Prelims –Environment

In news: In 2014, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) declared December 5 as ‘World Soil Day’.

  • The day was chosen as it coincides with the birthday of Thailand’s king, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who led the programme and made it happen.
  • It aims to draw people’s attention to the importance of healthy soil for the environment and for life.

Importance of soil:

  • Provides plants nutrition to grow and foothold for their roots.
  • It filters rainwater, recharges groundwater, regulates the discharge of excess rainwater, preventing flooding and it can store large amounts of organic carbon.
  • Soil can help regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
  • We build with soil — and on it — from mud brick houses to buildings, highways and more.
  • It is a habitat for billions of organisms (including microorganisms) and about 25 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity.
  • The soil microbes help break down organic matter and extract vital nutrients plants can use.
  • Soil’s capacity to hold water varies according to the soil type (clay holds more water than sandy soil) and organic matter content.
  • Each one per cent increase in soil organic matter helps the soil hold 20,000 gallons more water per acre.
  • Healthy soils are the foundation of the food system.
  • It is estimated that 95 per cent of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils.
  • A healthy soil helps sustain life — plants, insects and microorganisms; withstand climate events like droughts, floods and erosion; and provide other ecosystem services.
  • The microorganisms and larger organisms turn minerals into plant nutrients, which improve crop production.
  • Healthy soil can help mitigate climate change by increasing its carbon content – soil removes about 25 per cent of global fossil fuel emissions from the atmosphere each year.
  • Healthy soil has the right chemical composition of macro- and micro-nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur, iron, manganese and others, which plants get from the soil.
  • Healthy soils store carbon and other greenhouse gases in soil organic matter (SOM).
  • Globally, 10-14 per cent of total carbon emissions come from the intensive agricultural production system.
  • Soil management is an essential element of regenerative agriculture, which helps regeneration.

Intensive agriculture:

  • It includes promotion of monocropping, regular and over-tillage and use of chemicals.
  • Chemical fertilisers and pesticides reduce beneficial soil organisms, which are necessary for soil health, making it less productive, reducing its water retention capacity and making it more susceptible to erosion, according to estimates.
  • A third of the world’s soils are degraded.
  • In India, around 29.7 per cent land is degraded, according to the ISRO Atlas published in 2021.
  • Soil erosion and land degradation pose a major threat to global food security and to the achievement of the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals, compromising the well-being of at least 3.2 billion people around the world.
  • The loss of a few inches of topsoil has the potential to lower crop yields by 50 per cent and it can take hundreds of years to rebuild the soil.

Soil carbon sequestration:

  • Soil carbon sequestration is a process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored in soil, through processes like photosynthesis or the conversion of CO2 found in air pockets in soil into inorganic carbonates.
  • This is possible with regenerative agriculture, which may result in more SOM in the soil.
  • In fact, nearly 80 per cent (2,500 gigatonnes) of all carbon in terrestrial ecosystems is found in soil.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicated that carbon sequestration will be a critical part of the strategy to fight global warming.
  • Organic matter increase can help with carbon sequestration, while also improving the soil’s microbial population.
  • This is possible through reversative agriculture (organic or natural farming) — a low-cost approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Organic farming does not use chemicals, but it does increase organic matter content, microorganism population and plant availability of both micro- and macro-nutrients.
  • With only about 60 years of topsoil remaining under current practices, regenerative agriculture is the solution.
  • Farmers’ transition to adopt regenerative farming must include measures such as capacity building, incentives, seed and input availability as well as a mission-mode programme will have a long-term benefit for soil health and carbon sequestration

Source: DownToEarth

Previous Year Questions

Q1.) With reference to the circumstances in Indian agriculture, the concept of “Conservation Agriculture” assume significance. Which of the following fall under the Conservation Agriculture? (2018)

  1. Avoiding monoculture practices
  2. Adopting minimum tillage
  3. Avoiding the cultivation of plantation crops
  4. Using crop residues to cover soil surface
  5. Adopting spatial and temporal crop sequencing/crop rotations

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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

Vikram S rocket

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

In news: On November 18, 2022, Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace scripted history by becoming the first private Indian organisation to launch a rocket from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s launchpad in Sriharikota.

Vikram S rocket:

  • It is a part of Mission Prarambh, which means the beginning.
  • It is a sub-orbital rocket, which reached outer space and then splashed into the sea.
  • Has payload capacity of up to 300 kilograms.
  • Vikram-S used solid fuel-ammonium perchlorate, which is not completely green fuel.
  • With Vikram-2, it is planned to use liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is greener compared with traditional kerosene fuel.

Mechanisms of Vikram S:

  • There are four spin thrusters, which will generate the rocket’s spin and stability so that it doesn’t deviate from the trajectory.
  • Max-Q is the maximum stress on the rocket and is experienced during the lift-off.
  • At around 23 seconds, the rocket achieves five times the speed of sound or Mach 5.
  • ‘Apogee’ is the maximum point after which it descends, falls back and splashes down into the sea.
  • It takes around two and a half minutes to reach the Apogee and another two and a half minutes to splash down.

Technologies used:

  • carbon composites: porous structure made of carbon and carbon fibre and four times lighter and has higher strength than steel.
  • The lighter the rocket, the more payload we can use.
  • 3D printing: reduces the cycle time by 90 per cent compared with traditional methods and allows to build complex shapes.
  • Cycle time is the time required to manufacture a component.
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Efficient technology
  • Utilising existing govt infrastructure
  • Operating out of India

About Skyroot Aerospace:

  • It is an Indian private aerospace manufacturer and commercial launch service provider headquartered in Hyderabad.
  • Mandates: cutting-edge innovation and cost-effectiveness
  • Next launch will be Vikram-1, an orbital vehicle that puts satellites into orbit.
  • Vikram-2 will have a higher capacity than Vikram-1.
  • Skyroot Aerospace focuses on reusability of rockets.

Source: DTE

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) With reference to India’s satellite launch vehicles, consider the following statements: (2018)

  1. PSLVs launch the satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.
  2. Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.
  3. GSLV Mk III is a four-staged launch vehicle with the first and third stages using solid rocket motors; and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Mahaparinirvan Diwas

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs

In News: Bharat Ratna Dr BR Ambedkar’s 67th Mahaparinirvan Diwas or death anniversary was celebrated.

About BR Ambedkar:

                             

  • Dr Ambedkar was a jurist, economist, politician and a social reformer who campaigned against social discrimination of downtrodden, women and labourers.
  • He was born in 1891 in Mhow Army Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh
  • Known as The Father of the Indian Constitution
  • He was conferred the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1990.

Education:

  • He completed his matriculation in from Elphinstone High School.
  • He completed his Post Graduation in Economics.
  • He completed another doctorate from the London School of Economics – thesis “The problem of the rupee: Its origin and its solution”.
  • He completed his Ph.D. degree in Economics from the University of Columbia.

Contributions:

  • In 1919, in his testimony before the Southborough Committee in preparation of the Government of India Act Ambedkar opined that there should be a separate electoral system for the Untouchables and other marginalized communities.
  • In 1920, Ambedkar launched a newspaper called “Mooknayaka” (leader of the silent) with the assistance of Shahaji II, the Maharaja of Kolhapur
  • In 1923, he set up the Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha (Outcastes Welfare Association)
  • Ambedkar launched full-fledged movements for Dalit rights by 1927 and demanded public drinking water sources open to all and right for all castes to enter temples.
  • In 1932, Ambedkar signed the Poona Pact.
  • He participated in all three round table conferences in London and demanded separate electorate for untouchables.
  • In 1936, Founded the Independent Labor Party and his party contested the 1937 elections to the Central Legislative Assembly.
  • In 1942, founded Scheduled Castes Federation.
  • In 1947 Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as the chairman of the constitution drafting committee.
  • In 1950, founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha.
  • In 1956 Ambedkar organized a public ceremony to convert around five lakh of his supporters to Buddhism.
  • By December 2nd, 1956 he completed his final manuscript, “The Buddha or Karl Marx”
  • On 6 December 1956, he died at his home in Delhi.

Books and periodicals:

  • Bahishkrit Bharat(1927)
  • Samatha(1929)
  • Janata(1930)
  • Mook Nayak (weekly)
  • Annihilation of caste
  • Philosophy of Hinduism
  • Riddles in Hinduism
  • What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables
  • Who were the Shudras?
  • The problem of rupee: its origin or solution (thesis)
  • States and Minorities: What are Their Rights and how to Secure Them in the Constitution of Free India
  • The Buddha and His Dhamma
  • Buddha Or Karl Marx
  • Ancient Indian Commerce: Commercial Relations of India in the Middle East (thesis)
  • The Partition of India
  • Federation Versus Freedom
  • Thoughts on Pakistan
  • Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah
  • Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development

MUST READ Neo-buddhism

Source: newsonair

Previous Year Question

Q1) Which of the following parties were established by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar? (2012)S

  1. The Peasants and Workers Party of India
  2. All India Scheduled Castes Federation
  3. The Independent Labour Party

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

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

The Paris Club

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Economy

In News: Paris Club creditor nations are proposing a 10-year moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and another 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the Sri Lankan debt crisis.

  • Earlier this year, Sri Lanka had defaulted on its 51 billion dollar external debt in the midst of spiralling political and economic crisis.
  • India has provided emergency aid to the tune of four billion dollars.
  • The Paris club has also called upon the Global north and south to take a similar haircut in restructuring of Sri Lankan debt.

The Paris Club:

  • It is an informal group of official creditors from 22 wealthy countries who find sustainable solutions for challenges faced by debtor countries.
  • It provides a platform for governments facing financial difficulties to reduce and renegotiate their debt repayments.
  • Formed in 1956, it has signed more than 400 agreements to date, worth more than half a trillion dollars to about 100 countries.
  • The “G20 Common Framework” is an initiative endorsed by the G20 together with the Paris Club.
  • Other creditor nations are allowed to participate in negotiation meetings on a case-by-case basis, if they meet certain conditions.
  • The members meet in Paris once a month except for February and August.
  • Each meeting includes a one-day ‘Tour d’Horizon’, during which creditors talk about the external debt situation of debtor nations, or issues regarding how those countries are managing their debts.
  • The Paris Club invites debtor nations to a meeting with its creditors after it has concluded an appropriate program with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) that shows that the country cannot meet its external debt obligations, and therefore requires a new payment arrangement with its foreign creditors.
  • Representatives of the World Bank, the IMF and other international institutions, plus the relevant regional development bank, may also attend the meeting as observers.
  • The debtor country’s representative is usually its Minister of Finance, who heads a team comprising officials from his or her ministry and the central bank.

Source newsonair

Previous Year Question

Q.1) With reference to the “G20 Common Framework”, consider the following statements: (2022)

  1. It is an initiative endorsed by the G20 together with the Paris Club.
  2. It is an initiative to support Low Income Countries with unsustainable debt.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?

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

India Inequality Report 2022: Digital Divide by NGO Oxfam India

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 1 (Society) and GS 2 (Governance)

Context: According to ‘India Inequality Report 2022: Digital Divide’ released by the NGO recently, Indian women are 15 per cent less likely to own a mobile phone and 33 per cent less likely to use mobile internet services than men.

Highlights of the report:

  • The report analyses the primary data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s (CMIE) household survey held from Jan 2018 to Dec 2021.
  • Indian Women internet users: Indian women are 15 percent less likely to own a mobile phone and 33 percent less likely to use mobile internet services than men.
    • Women constitute only one-third of internet users in India.
  • India’s position globally: In Asia-Pacific, India fares the worst with the widest gender gap of 40.4 percent, says the study.
  • Rural-urban digital divide: Despite registering a significant (digital) growth rate of 13 percent in a year, only 31 percent of the rural population uses the Internet compared to 67 percent of their urban counterparts, says the report.
  • Caste-wise divide: In rural India, the tendency to use formal financial services is lowest for ST households, followed by SC households and OBC households.
    • The likelihood of access to a computer is more for the General and OBC groups than for the SC and ST populations.
    • The difference between the general category and ST is as high as seven to eight percent between 2018 and 2021.
  • Religion-wise: Among all religions, Sikhs have the highest likelihood of having a computer followed by Christians, Hindus and lastly Muslims.
  • Access to computer and internet for education: As per the National Service Scheme [NSS (2017-18)], only about 9 percent of the students who were enrolled in any course had access to a computer with internet and 25 percent of enrolled students had access to the internet through any kind of devices.
    • The chances of having a computer are higher with higher levels of education as well as income.
    • Among states, Maharashtra has the highest internet penetration, followed by Goa and Kerala, while Bihar has the lowest, followed by Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the report said
  • Effect of pandemic and digital payments: The digital push driven by the pandemic resulted in India experiencing the largest number of real-time digital transactions in 2021 at 48.6 billion.
    • However, the likelihood of a digital payment by the richest 60 percent is four times more than the poorest 40 percent in India.
  • According to UN’s e-participation index (2022), which is a composite measure of three important dimensions of e-government, namely provision of online services, telecommunication connectivity and human capacity, India ranks 105 out of 193 nations.

About Digital divide:

  • Digital divide is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology, and those that don’t or have restricted access. This technology can include the telephone, television, personal computers and the Internet.
  • Digital inequality is evident between communities living in urban areas and those living in rural settlements; between socioeconomic groups; between less economically developed countries and more economically developed countries; between the educated and uneducated population.

Significance of Digital Divide:

  • Political: In the age of social media, political empowerment and mobilization are difficult without digital connectivity.
  • Health and Governance: Transparency and accountability are dependent on digital connectivity. The digital divide affects e-governance initiatives negatively.
  • Social: Internet penetration is associated with greater social progress of a nation. Thus, digital divide in a way hinders the social progress of a country.
    • Rural India is suffering from information poverty due to the digital divide. It only strengthens the vicious cycle of poverty, deprivation, and backwardness.
  • Economic: The digital divide causes economic inequality between those who can afford the technology and those who don’t.
  • Educational: The digital divide is also impacting the capacity of children to learn and develop. Without Internet access, students cannot build the required tech skills.

Challenges associated with Digital divide in India:

  • Population: It is a challenge for a developing country to serve a population of 1.30 billion uniformly.
    • Every policy and project that is initiated should be implemented at a large scale keeping the future perspectives in mind.
  • Geographical Diversity: Rural India is still deprived of the facilities of urban India because of its geographical location.
    • It is poorly connected in terms of roads and infrastructural facilities.
  • Illiteracy and Poverty: A large part of population is fighting for its daily basic needs. They do not bother about high speed devices and digitization. They are more worried about food and shelter.
    • A large portion is illiterate and cannot operate digital devices. According to census 2011, literary rate in India is 74.04%.
  • Lack of Infrastructure: Being a densely populated country, India needs well established infrastructure to deliver e-services. But still there are some rural disconnected regions which are not connected to Internet.
  • Gender Divide: In India, there is huge discrimination among male and female.
    • Only 65.46% of Indian women are literate and it is shocking that only 29 percent of Indian internet users are female. This creates a huge gender divide.
  • Corruption: Corruption is a termite for government. At each tier of government structure, politicians and stakeholders try to draw illegal benefits for themselves.
    • Most of the budget that is decided at higher level cannot reach the general public and a large part of it is lost due to mediators.
  • Lack of Participation: It is observed that often the rural people are not very much attracted towards the web-based E-Governance services for various reasons.
    • Many-a-times they are afraid of the technologies and at times they are even ignorant about the availability of technologies which can help in dealing with their problems.

Government of India Initiatives to bridge the digital divide

Digital India Initiative: To transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

  • Vision Areas: Digital Infrastructure as a Core Utility to Every Citizen
  • Governance and Services on Demand
  • Digital Empowerment of Citizens
  • Achievements: India today is home to more than 75 crore smartphones, 133 crore Aadhaar cards, more than 80 crore internet users, has 4G and is now accelerating towards 5G.

Digital Payments

  • India has emerged as the fastest-growing ecosystem for fintech innovations.
  • India’s digital payments revolution is being appreciated globally.
  • This was made possible due to innovative digital payment products like UPI and Aadhaar-Enabled Payment Systems (AEPS). When banks and ATMs were shut during Covid-19, AEPS-based micro-ATM at CSCs and post offices provided doorstep delivery of cash.

The Jan-Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) trinity:

  • It has ensured that the poorest receive every penny of their entitled benefits.
  • Financial benefits worth nearly Rs 23 lakh crore have been transferred using DBT technology in the last eight years.

Bharat Net:

  • To provide high-speed broadband to all the villages, optical fibre has been laid in 1.83 lakh gram panchayats under Bharat Net.

Education:

  • PM e-VIDYA: Launched to enable multi-mode access to education.
  • One class-One Channel: Dedicated TV channel per grade for each of the classes 1 to 12.
  • E-PG Pathshala: An initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development to provide e-content for studies.

Optical Fibre Network (NOF-N), a project aimed to ensure broadband connectivity to over two lakh (200,000) gram panchayats of India by 2016.

Digital Mobile Library: In order to bridge the digital divide in a larger way the government of India, in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Computing (C–DAC) based in Pune.

Unnati, is a project of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) which strives to bridge the digital divide in schools by giving the rural students with poor economic and social background access to computer education.

Initiatives of State Government:

  • Sourkaryan and E–Seva: Project of the government of Andhra Pradesh to provides the facility for a citizen to pay property taxes online.
  • The Gyandoot Project: It is the first ever project in India for a rural information network in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh which has the highest percentage of tribes and dense forest.
    • The project was designed to extend the benefits of information technology to people in rural areas by directly linking the government and villagers through information kiosks.
  • Seva Sindhu: The Karnataka government launched a digital platform “Seva Sindhu” to address the issues of the common citizens in order to strengthen the ecosystem for government services.

Wat Forward:

  • Addressing the divide: Addressing the digital divide requires special, urgent and focused efforts of the government.
    • A large investment needs to be made, year after year, in digital infrastructure.
    • The establishment of a Broadband Infrastructure Fund with a large corpus from private, multilateral and government sources, including spectrum auction revenues, is a must.
  • Digital Empowerment Foundation has a digital literacy and mentorship initiative that targets 100 tribal girls across five states to link them with 25 urban women known for their leadership skills or roles. The girls are provided with a smartphone and connectivity.
  • The urban women connect with their mentees weekly via video calls to make them digitally literate. Many of these girls have now become entrepreneurs.
  • India can set up a digitally integrated ecosystem in rural areas with a community wireless network and an information resource centre.
    • This ecosystem can enable digital interventions to improve the quality of education. And in times like this pandemic, these centres can provide digital classrooms and online education.
    • It will help in reaching out to students, irrespective of lockdown, curfew or any natural calamity. This outreach will not only serve as a learning platform but also as essential information-sharing and awareness generation.
  • Internet infrastructural support and access to information continue to be crucial in supporting our underserved populations in these critical times.
  • Panchayats have to be responsible to deliver information and services across 29 state subjects, were promised fibre optic lines under government’s programme.
  • It is that policies as well as crises and emergency response should have a digital inclusion plank to mitigate the fallouts for vulnerable populations and ensure the availability of adequate safety nets.

Digital divide is an emerging reality in India and heavy cost to access new technology will set the stage for digital divide i.e., digital discrimination. Digital illiteracy is on a constant rise in India. Until plethora of emerging issues due to digital gaps are not addressed timely, affordable and sustainable internet society will appear as sheer chimera.

Source: Indian Express


Deforestation in Amazon Basin

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 3 (Environment)

Context: Recently, a report released by the Amazon Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information in collaboration with MapBiomas shows that the Amazon region has lost 10% of its native vegetation in almost four decades. The forest area lost is mostly tropical rainforest and is roughly the size of Texas.

Key findings of the report:

  • Widening Deforested area: From 1985 to 2021, the deforested area surged from 490,000 square kilometers to 1,250,000 square kilometers.
    • Brazil accounted for 84% of all forest destruction in this period.
  • Methodology: The deforestation numbers are calculated from an annual satellite monitoring.
    • The satellite monitoring has been taking place in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana since 1985.
  • Brazil leads with highest loss: Brazil, which holds about two-thirds of the Amazon, also leads the destruction.
    • In almost four decades, 19% of Brazil’s rainforest has been destroyed.
    • Almost half of Brazil’s carbon emissions come from deforestation.
    • The forest destruction is mainly due to cattle ranching expansion supported by the opening of roads.
  • Impact on Carbon Emissions:
    • At least some 75 billion metric tons of carbon are stored across the Amazon.
    • If all that carbon ended up immediately in the atmosphere, that would be about seven times global annual emissions.

About the Amazon Rainforests and Amazon basin:

Amazon Rainforests

  • These are the world’s largest tropical rainforests occupying the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries in northern South America.
  • As of 2021, the Amazon had 74% of its area covered by tropical rainforests and 9% of other natural vegetation types.
  • They are home to nearly a fifth of the world’s land species and over 45 million people.
  • The rainforest of the Amazon is home to 400–500 indigenous Amerindian tribes.
  • It is the source of 20% of the oxygen used by the planet.
  • Tropical forests are closed-canopy forests growing within 28 degrees north or south of the equator.
  • They are very wet places, receiving more than 200 cm rainfall per year, either seasonally or throughout the year.
  • Temperatures are uniformly high – between 20°C and 35°C.

The Amazon Basin

  • The basin covers over 6 million square km, nearly twice the size of India.
  • It is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
  • It comprises about 40% of Brazil’s total geographical area.
  • The basin produces about 20% of the world’s flow of freshwater into the oceans.

Significance of Amazon Rainforests in the basin countries:

  • Source of rich biodiversity: The Amazon forests are highly biodiverse and a wide range of flora and fauna species can be found in the Amazon than in any other terrestrial ecosystem in the world.
    • It is estimated to contain up to 30 percent of all species.
  • Precipitation and climate control: The Amazon rainforest produces between 50 and 75 percent of the world’s precipitation through transpiration.
    • Rainfall in the Western United States and Central America is influenced by moisture from the Amazon.
    • The hydrological cycles that depend on the forests, the Amazon’s canopy cover plays an important role in regulating temperature and humidity and is intricately linked to regional climate patterns.
  • Carbon sink potential and a natural air purifier: Massive amounts of carbon are sequestered by about 350 billion trees that make up the Amazon rainforest.
    • Over 85 billion tonnes of carbon are stored in forests which is more than a third of the carbon stored by tropical forests worldwide.
  • Local and regional benefits: Millions of people in the Amazon Basin depend on the services provided by the forest and activities such as logging, collection of non-timber forest products.
  • Medicinal values and food security: The Amazon provides 70% of the plants that are effective against cancer cells.
  • Eighty percent of the different types of food we consume worldwide have their roots in the Amazon rainforest.

Concerns and threats to Amazon forests:

  • Increased global temperatures coupled with El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) have led to a significant impact on Latin American climate variability and experts predict that the rainforest will perish in just 100 years.
  • Increased instances of forest fires, drought and unsustainable agriculture practices have led to massive loss of forest vegetation.
  • Poaching, commercial fishing, bio-Piracy and Smuggling has led to decline in flora and fauna numbers rapidly. Many species have become extinct including Amazon River turtle “Paiche”.
  • Developmental activities, industrial and mining activities in large forested areas have been responsible for at least 10% of the total deforested area.
  • Clearing forests for Soy oil and Cattle ranching has led to a significant amount of vegetation loss — 1.5 acres are lost every second.

Measures taken by the world at large:

  • Germany and Norway: Germany and Norway had ceased the funds to programmes that aim to prevent deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
    • Both the countries had accused the Brazilian government of not taking the necessary steps to contain the forest fire.
  • G7 Countries: The G7 countries have pledged to donate $20 million to aid the Amazon countries to fight the wildfire.
  • These countries have also agreed to launch a long-term global initiative to protect the Amazon rainforest.
  • This plan would involve the reduction of the deforestation rate and promotion of afforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
  • Both France and Ireland have threatened to block the EU trade deal with Brazil and three other Latin American countries if President Bolsonaro doesn’t change his stance.
  • The Brazilian president countered this threat by rejecting the G7 countries’ offer of $20 million assistance.

However, despite these political tensions, many experts believe that funding from G7 is not sufficient to solve the immediate crisis.

Way Forward:

  • If tropical forests’ potential to operate as carbon sinks is to be preserved, fossil fuel emissions must be controlled, and temperature rises must be restricted.
  • Zero deforestation policy by the Brazilian government’s administration is in the spotlight, and it is being urged to implement a zero-deforestation policy to change the situation.
  • Brazil was among a number of nations who promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 during the COP26 climate summit.
  • Limit greenhouse gas emission to protect the Amazon forests.
  • LEAF (Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance) Coalition was announced at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, 2021.
  • Emphasis on REDD+ initiatives which are climate change mitigation options in developing countries for conservation of forest carbon stock, sustainable management of forests and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
  • Create awareness among students and youths of the importance of trees to the Amazon ecosystem.

The Amazon is on the verge of functional destruction; not just the Amazon rainforests, but other Southeast Asian forests have also turned into carbon sources in the last few years as a result of formation of plantations and fires. There is an imminent need to reverse the deforestation trends and save the planet which requires active participation of all stakeholders including governments, civil society, industries and corporations in a mission mode.

Source:The Hindu

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) Consider the following statements:

  1. The Climate Group is an international non-profit organisation that drives climate action by building large networks and runs them.
  2. The International Energy Agency in partnership with the Climate Group launched a global initiative “EP100”.
  3. EP100 brings together leading companies committed to driving innovation in energy efficiency and increasing competitiveness while delivering on emission reduction goals.
  4. Some Indian companies are members of EP100.
  5. The International Energy Agency is the Secretariat to the “Under2 Coalition”.

Which of the statements given above are correct? (2022)

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

Q.2) In the context of India’s preparation for Climate-smart Agriculture, consider the following statements:

  1. The ‘Climate-Smart village’ approach in India is a part of a project led by climate change, Agriculture and food security (CCAFS), an international research programme.
  2. The project of CCAFS is carried out under Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) headquartered in France.
  3. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India is one of the CGIAR’S research centres.

Which of the statements given above are correct? (2021)

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

Plastic Pollution

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS3 Environment

In news: A report by Delhi-based think-tank, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) was released at a one-day National Conclave in New Delhi.

  • It states that India only has itself to blame for having not been able to effectively implement policy to tackle plastic pollution.

Context:

  • In India with the unceasing growth of consumerism throughout the nation, plastic pollution is rising.
  • The CPCB Report (2019-20) states that 3.4 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated in India annually.
  • Although, almost 60 per cent of the total plastic waste generated in India gets recycled, most of this plastic is down-cycled. At this juncture, India needs robust and stringent waste management tools to substantially improve the situation.

Current regulations:

  • Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021
  • prohibiting identified single use plastic items by 2022.
  • Thickness of plastic carry bags increased from 50 to 75 microns from 30th September, 2021 and to 120 microns with effect from the 31st December, 2022.
  • Guidelines for Extended Producer Responsibility given legal force
  • Single-use plastics
  • These include polystyrene, ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene or Thermocol for decoration, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery etc.
  • Extended producer responsibility:
  • Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) on plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016
  • on producers, importers, brand owners and plastic waste processors
  • 4 categories of plastic: rigid plastic packaging, flexible plastic packaging, multi-layered and plastic sheets.

Challenges:

  • Excessive amendments: The Plastic Life-Cycle noted that India, which released its current Plastic Waste Management Rules in 2016, has since amended it five times — in March 2018, August 2021, September 2021, February 2022 and July 2022.
  • Misplaced welfare: Each of these amendments have been aimed at benefiting major producers, importers and brand owners.
  • Legal loopholes: The 2016 Rules state that all non-recyclable multi-layered plastic (MLP) should be phased out in two years. The amendment introduced in March 2018 was aimed at stopping the phase out of MLPs.
  • It said only those MLPs that were “non-recyclable or non-energy recoverable or with no alternate use” could be phased out.
  • Industry orientation: The EPR has loopholes that benefit industry at the cost of the environment.
  • The August 2021 amendment prohibited the production, sale and use of single-use plastic after July 1, 2022.
  • But the February 2022 amendment exempted plastic packaging that accounts for 59 per cent of plastic waste in India from the single-use plastic ban.
  • Lack of data: There was no information on the quantity of plastic material or waste a company generated. Not only was such data based on self-declaration, there was nothing available in the public domain to assess its accuracy.
  • Lack of monitoring: Producers, Importers and Brand Owners (PIBO) were assigned a 25 per cent collection target for the plastic they put out on the market for 2021-22.
  • But there has been no update on the performance of the companies by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for 2021-22.
  • Governance issues: With an EPR target of 70 per cent, CPCB is struggling to even register all the PIBOs on its EPR portal.
  • Lack of verification: There was no technology to verify the use of recycled content in plastic products.
  • Thus any claim of use of recycled plastic cannot be verified
  • This means that we have no option but to rely on the integrity, honesty and credibility of the organisation’s claim.

Suggestions for future:

  • The entire life cycle of plastic — from source to disposal — must be considered together as the root cause of the pollution.
  • NITI Aayog and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India launched a handbook to promote sustainable management of plastic waste in the country.
  • Recycling or re-processing different categories of plastic waste into secondary material.
  • Incineration of plastic waste – however it is expensive and causes pollution if not done using the right equipment.
  • Technical model for plastic waste recycling and management – This component based on an integrated and inclusive approach by involving different stakeholders and their social benefits
  • Development of a baseline system of plastic waste management at the city level.
  • Systematic approach for promoting recycling of plastic waste at the city level.
  • Stakeholder identification and partnerships
  • Development of regulatory need-gap analysis and proposals for the holistic management of plastic waste.
  • Material Recovery Facility (MRF) for improved plastic waste management implementation

Way forward:

  • The recycling targets (under EPR) for PIBOs only start from 2024-25, which means that there is no mandate on recycling of the collected plastic waste till 2024-25.
  • There is a need for more clarity on what will happen to the collected plastic waste — will it be stored, burnt or dumped?
  • Plastic waste management needs to be equipped with processes and protocols which not only address dry waste management but also create a sustainable ecosystem for resource efficiency, environment compliances, basic amenities, health and safety and a socio-economic support system for key players such as waste pickers and recyclers.

Baba’s Explainer – Healthcare as a right: Rajasthan Right to Health Bill

Healthcare as a right: Rajasthan Right to Health Bill

Syllabus

  • GS-2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

Context: In September 2022, the Rajasthan State government introduced the Rajasthan Right to Health Bill, 2022 in the state legislative assembly. It still being debated in the legislative assembly and has become a major part of public discourse among health care providers as well as different interest groups.

  • Being the first such legislative action to have come from a state government, the decision carries with it both novelty and thus it becomes important to understand its legal dimensions, the short term and long term implications of its implementation.

Read Complete Details on Healthcare as a right: Rajasthan Right to Health Bill


Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) He wrote States and Minorities: What are Their Rights and how to Secure Them in the Constitution of Free India and The problem of rupee: its origin or solution. He was

  1. Bipin Chandra Pal
  2. Lala Lajpat Rai
  3. B R Ambedkar
  4. Motilal Nehru

Q.2) With reference to “Mission Prarambh”, consider the following statements:

  1. It is the first private rocket launch by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  2. It is an orbital rocket with a payload capacity of up to 300 kilograms.

Which of the following statements are correct?

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements regarding Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI):

  1. DRI is the apex anti-smuggling agency of India, working under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
  2. It is headquartered in Mumbai.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

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

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

ANSWERS FOR ’ 6th December 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st


ANSWERS FOR 5th December – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – b

Q.2) – d

Q.3) – c

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