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21st April                                                                                                                                                                                                           IAS TAPASSU                                                                                                                                     HOSA BELAKU

1) e-Kalyani software and website: Karnataka

  • Launched to simplify the process of empanelment and to ensure all maternal care health facilities
  • Through this portal, while hospitals can track the progress of their empanelment, health officials across the State can monitor the services being offered by these hospitals.
  • At the same time, the public can also get an overview of the Comprehensive Abortion Services being provided in the State.
  • District-level committees have been set up to empanel private hospitals

Context:

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, in 2021, aimed at providing a legal framework for making safe abortion service available in India. 
  • As per the provisions of this act, the private hospitals providing maternal care in the State will have to renew their empanelment once in five years for Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) services.
  • The empanelment procedure will be on the lines of registration renewal under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994.
  • The e-Kalyani software and website set by th government will simplify the process of empanelment and to ensure all maternal care health facilities get empanelled.

Gestation limit: According to the amended Act, the gestation limit for abortions has been raised from the earlier ceiling of 20 weeks to 24 weeks, but only for special categories of pregnant women such as rape or incest survivors.

But this termination would need the approval of two registered doctors. All pregnancies up to 20 weeks require one doctor’s approval.

There is also no upper gestation limit for abortion in case of foetal disability if so decided by a medical board of specialist doctors (the board is setup by state governments and union territories’ administrations)

As per the amendment, all medical colleges and tertiary hospitals should have a medical board.

 

2) IISc, ISRO find way to make bricks from Martian soil:  ‘space bricks’

  • Researchers from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed a way to make bricks from Martian soil with the help of bacteria and urea.
  • The team first made the slurry by mixing Martian soil with guar gum, a bacterium called Sporosarcina pasteurii, urea and nickel chloride (NiCl2). “This slurry can be poured into moulds of any desired shape, and over a few days the bacteria convert the urea into crystals of calcium carbonate. These crystals, along with biopolymers secreted by the microbes, act as cement holding the soil particles together,”

“The bacteria seep deep into the pore spaces, using their own proteins to bind the particles together, decreasing porosity and leading to stronger bricks,” 

 

3) Water adalat

Context: The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) will hold a water adalat on Thursday from 9.30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

According to a release from BWSSB, grievances connected to water billing, delay in providing water supply and sanitary connections, delay in converting from domestic connection to non-domestic connection, and other related issues will be addressed.

What are Adalats?

  • The term Lok Adalat means People’s court.
  • It’s one of the component of Alternate dispute resolution system
  • The judgement provided by lok adalat is informal and cheap but very effective for the common people
  • They have legal status or statutory status under, legal services authorities act 1987

 

4) Karnataka Youth Policy 2022

Context: The State Government will come out with a Karnataka Youth Policy 2022 in May, to enable the holistic development of youth and to track development expenditure incurred by various departments on implementation of programmes for development of youth.

The committee is chaired by- R. Balasubramaniam

Aim: Those in the age group of 15 to 29 years constitute about 30% of the State’s population.

The policy would recommend restructuring of the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports, the creation of a Yuva Budget, and the formation of a youth advisory group

 

Need and significance of the policy?

  • A decade has passed since the adoption of the Karnataka Youth Policy in 2012. Currently, there is no mechanism for tracking expenditure incurred by various departments on implementation of schemes for development of youth.
  • The policy, which would be formulated in alignment with other existing policies, would suggest a system to track expenditure of departments on youth schemes to ensure effective utilisation of resources
  • The new policy would recommend establishment of separate ministries or directorates for youth empowerment and sports
  • On the lines of Gender Budget, the policy would suggest adoption of a Yuva Budget for undertaking programmes for youth.
  • The policy would propose a monitoring and evaluation committee for the creation of a Karnataka Youth Development Index and a structured three-tier review system, largely focusing at the State and district level
  • The policy would be formulated in the background of new challenges posed by technological progress and health crises such as COVID-19, to rethink the State’s approach to youth development.
  • Mental and physical well-being of the State’s youth would also be given priority
  • In alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the KYP, 2022, would be operational for a period of eight years until 2030.
  • With a whopping 82% of females in the age group of 21-30 years not participating in the labour force in 2018 against 14% males in the same age group, the policy would also focus on education, training, employment and entrepreneurship of the female labour force.

Question:

  • Consider the following statements about Karnataka Youth Policy 2022
  1. The policy aims to formulate a Yuva budget to implement the programmes and policies for the development of youth, mainly aging between 15 to 29
  2. The policy will be effective from 2022-2027 for five years
  3. The policy focus only on physical fitness and health of youths, but silent on mental health and wellbeing.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 2 only
  4. None of the above

Answer: Option A

 

  • Who among the following is the chairman of committee on youth policy of Karnataka?
  1. M Balakrishnan
  2. Chandrashekar Kadar
  3. Basavaraj Bommai
  4. Balasubramaniam

Answer: Option D

 

5) ‘Social Awareness and Action to Neutralise Pneumonia Successfully’ (SAANS)

  • It’s a campaign to ensure greater awareness and early detection of pneumonia in children under five. 
  • Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infection.
  • Objective: The under-five mortality of Karnataka is at 28/1000 live births as per SRS 2018. But government’s goal is to reduce under-five mortality to 23/1,000 live births by 2025.
  • And in order to achieve the National Health Policy goals, pneumonia mortality needs to be reduced to less than 3 per 1,000 live births
  • Pneumonia contributes 15% of under-five deaths in India
  • These are preventable deaths if we strengthen our systems to detect and treat pneumonia cases early

 

6) “India’s first 99.999% pure” green hydrogen plant

  • Exploration and production major Oil India Ltd. (OIL) has commissioned “India’s first 99.999% pure” green hydrogen plant in Assam.
  • Green hydrogen, which has the potential to replace fossil fuels, is the name given to hydrogen gas produced using renewable energy such as wind or solar power that do not entail greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The green hydrogen pilot plant set up in central Assam’s Jorhat has capacity for producing 10 kg of hydrogen a day, which can be later be increased to 30 kg a day.

 

7) INS Vagsheer to be inducted next year

  • The sixth and last of the French Scorpene-class submarines, INS Vagsheer, was launched into water at the Mazagon Docks in Mumbai.
  • “The sixth submarine will now commence setting to work of various equipment and their harbour trials. The crew will thereafter sail the submarine for the rigorous sea acceptance trials after which the submarine would be delivered to the Navy by late next year,”
  •  The six submarines were being built under Project-75 by the Mazagon Docks under technology transfer from the Naval Group as part of a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005. INSKalvariwas commissioned in December 2017; INS Khanderiin September 2019; INS Vagir in November 2020; INSKaranjin March 2021; and INS Vela in November 2021.
  • INS Vagir is undergoing sea trials now. The Navy has drawn up plans to install an air independent propulsion (AIP) module on all the Scorpenes as they go for refit, beginning with INS Kalvari, in the next couple of years to enhance their endurance.
  • Development of an indigenous AIP module by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is in advanced stages. The tender to build six more advanced conventional submarines under Project-75I is in the Request For Proposal stage. The Navy has a 30-year submarine-building programme and after the P-75I, it intends to design and build conventional submarines indigenously.

 

 

8) Sarmat ballistic missile

Russia said on Wednesday it had conducted a first test launch of its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, a new addition to its nuclear arsenal.

 

20th April                                                                 IAS TAPASSU                                                                                                                            HOSA BELAKU

1) Many small farmers want children to take up salaried jobs: Study

  • Case study: (Can be used in essays related to farmers and answering questions on marginal farmers or future of agriculture in India)
  • Farmers with one to five acres of irrigated land and up to seven acres of non-irrigated land were interviewed in Koppal, Raichur, Kalaburagi, and Hubballi as part of research spread across Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh by The/Nudge Institute, Centre for Rural Development.
  • As many as 89% of the respondents did not want their children to take up farming.
  • Small farmers in Karnataka feel that it is better for their children to take up jobs with a regular salary since income from agriculture is low and often crops are damaged due to vagaries of nature

Sources of income:

  • With low income from agriculture, farmers are earning their livelihood from three to four sources, including taking additional land on lease or share cropping that had advance rental payment with no compensation benefit to the tenant farmer in case of crop damage
  • The other sources of income that the farmers are dependent on are agriculture labour, MNREGA, dairy and livestock, and income from other family members.
  • While MNREGA contributes 4% to 12% of income depending on the number of days of work, most farmers preferred it since they considered it an easy task
  • The Prime Minister Kisan Yojana, PDS, and other DBT have high reach among farmers.
  • Informal loans are from friends and family, moneylenders, other farmers
  • On an average based on the data from Kalaburagi, Koppal, and Raichur, a farmer has ₹2.4 lakh of loan in a financial year.
  • The research revealed that as many as 67% of farmers had crop loans of whom only 16% were repaying. Most others are not being repaid or only interest being paid in the hope of a loan waiver from the Government.

Challenges:

  • As many as 90% of farmers do not get the soil tested. Even if the soil is tested, farmers were not aware of the results or were aware of the deficiencies but not using fertilisers as per recommendations.

Though all bank crop loans are bundled with crop insurance, half of the farmers with bank loans were not aware if they had crop insurance.

While most farmers had a mobile phone, they used it for communication, entertainment and rate inquiry but not necessarily for improving agricultural practices.

 

 

2) ‘Nominated members of municipalities cannot vote’

Context: The High Court of Karnataka has upheld the legality of the bar imposed on the nominated members of municipalities from voting in elections to the posts of presidents and vice-presidents of municipalities.

High court opined that “The elected members of the municipal council are chosen by popular vote and carry with them the mandate of the people, whereas, nominated members of the municipal council are appointed as councillors. The elected members and nominated members cannot be said to be belonging to the same class,” (Same has been iterated in constitution of India as well)

 

Article and section under focus:

Article 243R of the Constitution that deals with composition of municipalities.

Section 11(1) (b) of the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964

Both will nominated members of municipality from voting in the elections to the posts of presidents and vice-presidents

243R: Composition of Municipalities

  1. Save as provided in clause ( 2 ), all the seats in a Municipality shall be filled by persons chosen by direct election from the territorial constituencies in the Municipal area and for this purpose each Municipal area shall be divided into territorial constituencies to be known as wards
  2. The Legislature of a State may, by law, provide

(a) for the representation in a Municipality of

(i) persons having special knowledge or experience in Municipal administration;

(ii) the members of the House of the People and the members of the Legislative Assembly of the State representing constituencies which comprise wholly or partly the Municipal area;

(iii) the members of the Council of States and the members of the Legislative Council of the State registered electors within tile Municipal area;

(iv) the Chairpersons of the Committees constituted under clause ( 5 ) of article 243S: Provided that the persons referred to in paragraph (i) shall not have the right to vote in the meetings of the Municipality;

(b) the manner of election of the Chairperson of a Municipality

 

But, the case was filed by Lakshmikantha K. and four other nominated members of Malur Town Municipality, Kolar. The petitioners had contended that the above mentioned provision is violative of fundamental right under article 14.

But the high court bench held that, “the right to vote is not a fundamental right and therefore, Article 243R (2) (a) which provides that nominated members shall not have right to vote in the meeting of the Council does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution,” 

 

 

 

3) Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar 2022.

Context: Two innovative projects, among other initiatives, of the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat have drawn the attention of the Union Ministry of Panchayat Raj which has selected the panchayat for the national-level Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar 2022.

The Union Government selects only one ZP from a State for this award. Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat has made it to the top spot from the State. 

 Pustaka Goodu:  is a book nest opened in public places.

A unique feature of these nests is that they remain open round the clock.

And, books are kept in the open without any locking system and people can read them free at any time of the day.

These nests have general and academic books, novels, magazines and the like. 

Launched in May 2021 with 17 units, the panchayat has now opened 250 nests across the district in rural areas. Of these, four nests are in parks, two in public offices and the remaining are in bus stations/stops.

“The purpose of opening these nests is to create a platform for rural people to use their leisure time reading books instead of spending it on mobile phones,”

 Of the books, 90% are old ones, either donated by people or collected by the panchayat, and the remaining have been purchased anew

 

Uttejana: It was launched to offer free bridge courses through the virtual mode for Class X and second year pre-university students accommodated in government hostels in rural areas across the district.

Teachers from reputed private education institutes in the district teach commerce and science subjects to the students. “It is to motivate rural students in their studies,”

In addition, the panchayat has created over 260 nutrition (vegetable) gardens in government schools over the years. The vegetables grown are used in the mid-day meal scheme.

 

4) Time to set price distortions right:

Article deals with minimisation of prise distortions and enhance production and increase competitiveness

With internal economic liberalisation, openness to international trade and investment, an open free market economy has emerged. Improving the ease of doing business continues to be a major priority. But even more important is the cost of doing business.

Hence this cost of doing should also be cut down to enhance the market for the Indian products abroad.

 

Author suggests the following reasons for increasing cost of doing business:

Pricing distortion in petrol, diesel:

The exceptionally large revenues that came to the government from the high taxes on petrol and diesel created such a dependency that these have been kept out of GST.

More recently, the central government has been raising taxes on these to raise additional revenues to moderate the fiscal impact from COVID. This has given an inflationary impetus.

But the real adverse impact is on the cost of road transport of goods which makes the cost of logistics about twice that of our competitors. 

Electricity pricing distortions:

The railways charge about twice the actual cost for carrying coal to thermal power plants. This distortion adds to the cost of coal for thermal power plants and further increases the price of electricity for the distribution companies. They, in turn, cross subsidise most domestic household consumption by having higher tariffs for industrial users.

This increases the cost of industrial production vis-a-vis competitors in other countries. The consequential loss of competitiveness results in lower manufacturing growth and the creation of fewer jobs.

Land cost: Not only is it difficult to get land for business enterprises, but prices are also higher than they need to be.

Possible solutions:

As with all reforms, it would need leadership and investment of political capital in generating a consensus and steering change.

 Petrol and diesel, therefore, need to come under GST. Even at the highest rate of 28%, the price of petrol would be around ₹60 per litre.

Land use conversion and redevelopment processes need to be made user friendly.

Combined with public provision and upgradation of quality infrastructure this would reduce supply side constraints and lower prices in real terms.

Private investments can create jobs for our young generation.

The sooner we realise this and start grappling with feasible pathways for reducing the cost of doing business and getting a surge in private investment which creates jobs, the better.

 

5) Tie-up between Indian, foreign varsities simplified

Context: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has simplified the procedure for an Indian higher educational institution to offer programmes in collaboration with foreign universities by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with each other directly if they meet certain eligibility criteria.

an Indian higher education institution that has a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) grading of 3.01 or above, or is among the top 1,000 QS World University or Times Higher Education rankings, or is among the top 100 universities under National Institution Ranking Framework, will be able to tie-up with a foreign education institution which too features among the top 1,000 QS or Times Higher Education rankings.

The previous regulations, known as the University Grants Commission (Promotion and Maintenance of Standards of Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2016, which will now stand repealed. It mandated the approval from the UGC compulsory to get tie up with foreign university.

Universities and colleges will no longer be required to seek its permission to do so, if they met the ranking criteria.

Under the 2016 regulations, a foreign and Indian college or university could partner with each other to offer only “twinning” and “joint degree” programmes where Indian students received a degree only from an Indian institute along with a certificate from the foreign institute.

But now, they can offer a third type of programme, that is, a “dual degree” programme, where both the institutes will issue a degree.

These collaborations will be permitted only for the conventional mode of learning and not for distance or online learning.

Benefits:

India have four crore students in Indian higher education institutes but over a period of time, this will increase to 10 crore. While we continue to build new institutes, it is also important to provide high quality education through collaborations with foreign institutes. This will also enhance the employability of the students.

The move would also help attract foreign students to India, which will lead to internationalisation, which is an important parameter for improving global rankings of higher education institutions.

 

6)WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM)

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday laid the foundation stone for the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) at Jamnagar in Gujarat

A first of its kind, the GCTM will be a global outpost centre for traditional medicine across the world. 

Centre said, “The centre will focus on data, innovation and sustainability and will optimise the use of traditional medicine.” 

It aims to go beyond just healing and treatment, as social health, mental health-happiness, environmental health, sympathy, compassion and productivity are all included. 

 

 

7)  President gives assent to Criminal Procedure Bill

President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, which empowers the police to obtain physical and biological samples of convicts and those accused of crimes.

The Act, which replaces the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, was passed by the Lok Sabha on April 4 and the Rajya Sabha on April 6.

Apart from providing legal sanction to police to obtain physical and biological samples of convicts and detainees for investigation in criminal matters, the legislation also empowers a magistrate to order measurements or photographs of a person to be taken to aid the investigation of an offence.

In case of acquittal or discharge of the person, all material must be destroyed.

The Act explained the types of data that may be collected, people from whom such data may be collected and the authority that can authorise such collection.

It also provides for the data to be stored in a central database.

 

8) IMF cuts India forecast to 8.2% on war

The IMF on Tuesday cut its forecast for India GDP growth in the current fiscal year to 8.2%, a 0.8 percentage point reduction from January, as it downgraded the outlook for global growth citing the economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook also projected India’s economy to expand by 6.9% next year, putting it on course to be the fastest growing large economy over the two years.

Reasons for cut in forecast

The IMF said Japan and India were seeing “notable” growth forecast downgrades in the Asia region, partly because of lower net exports and weaker domestic demand, with higher oil prices expected to weigh down consumption and investment.

The global economy was becoming fragmented with countries cutting off ties with Russia, the “rules-based frameworks” were being threatened, and pandemic-induced lockdowns in China were exacerbating supply-chain disruptions.

India was “suffering like many other countries as a consequence of the war and negative terms of trade shock” due to higher food and energy prices weighing down trade balances.

External demand was also softening as the rest of the world’s growth was impacted

 

Question:

  • The ‘World Economic Outlook’ report is released by
  1. World bank
  2. IMF
  3. Asian development bank
  4. World Economic forum

Answer: B

 

  • Consider the following statements regarding Global Financial Stability Report
  1. It’s an annual report released by IMF
  2. Recently released report forecasted the severe shocks due to pandemic as well as wars than the ongoing crisis.

Select the correct statement/ statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 and 2

Answer: B

The report is released biannually, hence the first statement is wrong.

 

 

19th April                                                                                        IAS TAPASSU                                                                                   HOSA BELAKU

1) Wholesale price inflation climbs to 14.55% in March

  • Context: Inflation in India’s wholesale prices hit a four-month high of 14.55% in March, from 13.11% in February, driven by accelerating price rise across all categories of goods, with fuel and power as well as primary articles driving most of the gains.
  • The high inflation was attributed “primarily to rise in prices of crude petroleum and natural gas, mineral oils, basic metals, etc. owing to disruption in global supply chain caused by Russia-Ukraine conflict”
  • This is the 12th month in a row that wholesale inflation has exceeded 10%.

What are WPI and CPI inflation rates?

  • WPI and CPI are two different baskets of goods and services. The government assigns different weights to different goods and services based on what is relevant for those two types of consumers.
  • Any inflation rate essentially tells us the rate at which prices have been rising in an economy. As such, an inflation rate is expressed as a percentage
  • If the prices of onions rose from Rs 10 a kg last year to Rs 15 a kg this year, the inflation rate will be 50%. That’s because a kg of onion is Rs 5 — that is, 50% — more than the base price (Rs 10) in this example.
  •  For every month, inflation rates are calculated both on a year-on-year basis — how prices have changed over the past year — as well as on a month-on-month basis — how prices have changed over the past month.
  • But, the price of any commodity, say onions, also varies whether one buys the commodity in the wholesale market or whether one buys in the city mall. Comparing last year’s wholesale prices of onions with this year’s retail store prices will be misleading. So, the government comes out with two indices — one for mapping inflation in the wholesale market and one for mapping inflation in the retail market. Inflation rates are also calculated for rural and urban markets for better policy analysis.

The two most-often used inflation rates in the country are the year-on-year

  • The wholesale price index(WPI) based inflation rate
  • The consumer price index (CPI) based inflation rate

The former is called the wholesale inflation rate and the latter is called the retail inflation rate. Both WPI and CPI are price indices. In other words, these are two different baskets of goods and services. The government assigns different weights to different goods and services based on what is relevant for those two types of consumers.

 

 

  • The CPI-based inflation data is compiled by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (or MoSPI) and the WPI-based inflation data is put together by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (or DPIIT).
  • The WPI is dominated by the prices of manufactured goods while the CPI is dominated by the prices of food articles. As such, broadly speaking, if food prices go up sharply, it will bump up the retail inflation rate far more than it would spike the wholesale inflation rate. The reverse will happen when prices of manufactured products (such as TVs and cars) rise sharply.
  • A key difference that must not be missed is that the WPI does not take into account the change in prices of services — say a haircut or a banking transaction. But CPI does. If services such as transport, education, recreation and amusement, personal care etc. get significantly costlier, then retail inflation will rise but there will be no impact on wholesale price inflation.

 

 

2) Fees for ‘pollution under control’ certificates hiked

The Transport Department has hiked the fee applicable for ‘pollution under control’ certificates.

What is a PUC certificate?

  • The PUC certificate is a document that any person driving a motor vehicle can be asked to produce by a police officer in uniform authorised by the state government. According to the Transport Department
  • The order states that while revising the fee, the department has considered operational costs in running emission testing centres that include rent, internet, electricity charges, printing, and others.

Several conditions

  • The department has also put several conditions on emission testing owners to run the business that include employing trained staff to test the vehicles, displaying licences, being spacious, and stickers as approved by the department should be pasted on the vehicle after the tests and others.

There are over 1,700 emission testing centres in the State.

 

3) SHLCC clears 10 projects

  • The State High-Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC) headed by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday cleared 10 projects with an estimated total investment of ₹11,513 crore and employment potential of 46,984 jobs.
  • The Chief Minister provided guidance on ways and means to provide land, water, power, infrastructure and various concessions for attracting investments
  • SHLCC is a single window clearance committee for setting up of industries worth of more than 500 crores.
  • Projects or companies have less than 500 crores will get approvals from the committee headed by the minister for industrial development.

Question:

  • Stare high level clearance committee is headed by
  1. Home minister
  2. Chief minister
  3. Minister for industrial development
  4. Prime minister

Answer: Option B

 

4) Sri Lankan lessons for India

Sri Lanka has been in the news so much of late that its current woes are the stuff of popular knowledge.

Everyone can see the extreme deprivation caused to its people due to the absence of their staple food at an affordable price in the market and the shortage of petrol at the pump.

Lessons to be learnt:

  • Linguistic disenfranchisement: the fight between the local Simhalas and Srilankan Tamils lead to the increased spending on defence.
  • Some of the experts who were travelled abroad to find peaceful location, this results in loss of expertise in the administration as well as workforce.
  • The domestic unrest will result in crowding out of investors and industries which also results in economic slowdown

 

  • Political, economic lessons:
  • Funding of domestic welfare schemes from the borrowings should be avoided. Which should be funded from our own income through taxes and others.
  • The theory of comparative advantage, encourages a country to specialise in its production and to rely on foreign trade for goods that it does not produce.
  • This assumes that there will be a continuing demand for the country’s product. Sri Lanka’s case shows us why it can be damaging for a country to rely on trade for its essential consumption goods.
  • India it must learn from its neighbour’s misfortunes and step up domestic production across sectors, from oilseeds to renewable energy and defence equipment.

 

 

5) Lt. Gen. Manoj Pande is new Army chief

  • The Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Manoj Pande, has been appointed the 29th Chief of the Army Staff
  • He is the first officer from the Corps of Engineers and also the first from combat support arms — the combat arms being infantry, artillery and armoured
  • Appointment is still awaited for the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) which has fallen vacant following the untimely demise of the country’s first CDS, Gen. Bipin Rawat. Gen. Naravane is at present the senior-most and front runner for the post.
  • The Service chiefs can continue in office till 62 years of age or for three years, whichever is earlier, while the age limit for the CDS is 65 with no fixed tenure defined.

 

6) Cryptos and a CBDC are not the same thing:

  • Context: Russian kleptocrats have been using cryptos to escape sanctions. Ukraine has been a centre for cryptos trading due to its lax rules and is using them to raise funds for its war with Russia.
  • But in india, during budget session Finance minister said ‘Cryptocurrency will be discouraged via taxation and capital gains provisions’. In this context we have to examine the use of cryptos in India?

RBI governor highlighted two important concerns on Cryptocurrency

  • Private cryptocurrencies are a big threat to our financial and macroeconomic stability
  • These cryptocurrencies have no underlying (asset) not even a tulip.

And RBI also called cryptos worse than a Ponzi scheme and argued against “legitimizing” them.

But the same RBI announced that it will float a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). So we have to examine how CBDC is different from crypto currency

Cryptos are the decentralised currencies based on block chain technology which central banks cannot regulate and which enables enterprising private entities (such as Satoshi Nakamoto who initiated Bitcoins in 2009) to float cryptos which can function as assets and money.

The total valuation of cryptos recently was upward of $2 trillion — more than the value of gold held globally.

A CBDC is only a fiat currency

Fiat currency?

  •  A currency is a token used in market transactions. Historically, commodities (such as copper coins) have been used as tokens since they themselves are valuable. But paper currency is useless till the government declares it to be a fiat currency

Difference:

  • SO, paper currency derives its value from state backing. Cryptos are a string of numbers in a computer programme and are even more worthless. And, there is no state backing. So, how do they become acceptable as tokens for exchange? Their acceptability to the well-off enables them to act as money. Paintings with little use value have high valuations because the rich agree to it. It is similar for cryptos.
  • Cryptos acquire value and can be transacted via the net. This enables them to function as money. 

Double spending:

  • The different degrees of difficulties underlying cryptos relate to the problem of ‘double spending’. Fiat currency has the property that once spent, it cannot be spent again except through forgery, because it is no more with the spender. But, software on a computer can be used repeatedly.

CBDC, unlike cryptos

  • Blockchain enables decentralisation. That is, everyone on the crypto platform has a say. But, central banks would not want that. Further, they would want a fiat currency to be exclusively issued and controlled by them.
  • So, for the CBDC to be in central control, solving the ‘double spending’ problem and being a crypto (not just a digital version of currency) seems impossible.
  • A centralised CBDC will require the RBI to validate each transaction — something it does not do presently. Once a currency note is issued, the RBI does not keep track of its use in transactions.
  • Keeping track will be horrendously complex which could make a crypto such as the CBDC unusable unless new secure protocols are designed.
  • CBDCs at present cannot be a substitute for cryptos that will soon begin to be used as money. This will impact the functioning of central banks and commercial banks.
  • Further, a ban on cryptos requires global coordination, which seems unlikely.
  • IMF has also opined that “the history of money is entering a new chapter”. The RBI needs to heed this caution and not be defensive.
  • 18TH April                                                                                    HOSABELAKU        IAS TAPASSU               

 

1) Retirement spree in SC may affect efforts to scale down pendency

  • The sanctioned strength of the apex court stands at 34 (including the chief justice of India). The working strength of the top court is 32, leaving two vacancies to be filled.
  • Parliament has the power to increase the strength of the apex court. According to which parliament increased the strength from time to time as follows:
  • The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act 1956, as originally enacted, provided for the maximum number of judges (excluding the chief justice of India) to be 10.
  • This number was increased to 13 by the Supreme Court (Number of Judges), Amendment Act, 1960, and to 17 by another amendment to the law.
  • The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1986 augmented the strength of the Supreme Court judges from 17 to 25, excluding the CJI.
  • Subsequently, a fresh amendment in 2009 further augmented the strength of top court judges from 25 to 30.
  • Similarly amendment was made in 2019 to increase the strength to 34 (including CJI)

 

  • But, 2022 is set to witness the retirement of 7 judges which may affect the functioning of the apex court. This will badly affect the disposal of pending cases in Supreme Court
  • The Supreme Court’s statistics show that 70,362 cases are pending with it as on April 1, 2022, though over 19% of them are not ready to be placed before a Bench for judicial hearing as they have not completed the required preliminaries.
  •  While 52,110 are admission matters, 18,522 are regular hearing cases. The number of Constitution Bench cases (both main and connected matters) totals 422.
  • Along with this, one more issue was also highlighted that. Number of women judges will reduce to three after the retirement of Justice Indira Banerjee
  • This will also result in reduced period of service the upcoming CJI, affecting their efficiency in office.

 

Question:

Consider the following statements

  1. The sanctioned strength of supreme court stands at 34, excluding Chief justice of India
  2. Power to increases the strength of SC is with President based on the recommendation of Chief justice of India
  3. Indian Apex court had no women CJI so far

Which of these statement is/are correct?

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

Answer: Option C

 

2) Dhuku tradition

Dhuku tradition recently seen in news is a

  1. Traditional art form of tribes from Jharkhand
  2. Type of live-in relation where the couple stays together without marriage
  3. The dance form practiced to seek rain in dry seasons
  4. Religious festivals held in south India after Chandramana Ugadi

Answer:B

Explanation:

  • Jharkhand's Dhuku Marriage, Where Couples Opt For Live-in Relationships Due To Poverty
  • In many areas and communities, live-in relationships are still prevalent but are mostly looked down upon
  • Staying with a man in a relationship, bearing their children without getting married, without any social acceptance and legal rights - this is an Adivasi tradition in Jharkhand, known as 'dhuku marriage'.
  • According to the tribal community norm, the woman is recognised as ‘Dhukni’ and the man is called 'Dhukua'. 
  • The Munda, Oraon, and Ho tribes primarily practice Dhukna in tribal-dominated rural areas of Jharkhand, and such marriages have been flourishing in patriarchal tribal communities for centuries due to poverty and illiteracy.
  • Dhuku marriage is a compulsion, not a choice, and tribals for centuries have been deprived of basic social recognition and respect because of poverty.

Status of live-in relationships in India

  • The legal status of children born out of live-in relationships remains indecisive in the Indian legislature, though women in live-in relationships have found some respite through the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.
  • The Supreme Court of India, for the first time in the case of S Khushboo v. Kanniammal (2010) gave legal recognition to live-in relationships by categorizing them as “domestic relationships” protected under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 
  • The Court held that a live-in relationship comes within the ambit of the right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. 

The right and freedom of choice to either marry or have a live-in relationship with an individual of one’s own will, thus, emerges from this inalienable fundamental right.

The Supreme Court demarcated the difference between law and morality and expressed that even if live-in relationships are regarded as immoral by society, it is neither illegal nor an offence.

Still, no legal protections are extended to couples as the state does not legally recognise the relationship.

 

 

3) Who is the master? Science or the people?  (Use full for mains and PSI essay writing)

Mankind has been shaped by various ancient civilisations, examples being Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Chinese, and the Indus Valley. These civilisations have evolved since the time humans first decided to give up their nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle in favour of settling down in one place.

 The key feature of this journey has been the accumulation of bounteous knowledge and the pursuit of higher standards of living, propelled by rapid strides in the fields of science and technology.

Issues on values, interests: How to make technological growth parallel to humankind?

  • Clear set of goals and objectives and the values that should guide their progress should be clearly outlined
  • It should be taken to the people in the form of effective technological tools that every person could use to solve their problems
  • Science should be for society and technology should be driven by the needs of the people.
  • The application of science and technology could help in enhancing the economic viability of the activity to which these tools are applied, besides promoting more gainful employment.
  • Science and technology should enable development that is in harmony with nature.
  • empowerment of all sections of society (For example: Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) under which about 50 crore bank accounts have been opened to enable financial inclusion and empowerment)
  • Self-reliance in science and technology. This is also the essence of the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative (a vision of self-reliance) 
  • Enabling all to live in dignity, have worth, equality of rights, better standards of life, security, etc. with the participation of all in national endeavours
  • Nationalism, accordingly, is a positive force for ensuring the rapid progress of our nation by realising the full potential of every individual.

Case study:  Dr. Nayudamma, former head of leather institute of Chennai. He made a pioneering contribution to change the face and the nature of the tannery industry in the country. The profession of collecting hides and skins of dead animals, which is pursued by some traditional communities, used to be looked down upon due to factors such as the stench and the difficult nature of work involved. He reflected on how science and technology could make a difference in making this profession widely acceptable. He succeeded in this by enabling the removal of the stench and improving the skills of those involved in this job. He promoted leather products to improve the incomes of tannery workers. In the process, he proved that the application of science and technology could help in enhancing the economic viability of the activity to which these tools are applied, besides promoting more gainful employment

(In news because, Dr. Nayudamma’s birth centenary year, 1922, M. Venkaiah Naidu is the Vice-President of India payed tributes to all scientists and technologists who are striving for the betterment of humanity with care, concern and responsibility.)

 

4) The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast on monsoon: (Updates for the 15th April article)

Certain issues to address:

  • Focus should be changed from long forecasting to short period forecast
  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast a ‘normal’ monsoon for this year, or 99% of the Long Period Average (LPA) of 87 cm. 
  • The IMD has a multi-stage monsoon forecast system. The April forecast usually has little detail on how much rain is expected during each of the monsoon months, and whether the rain will be lopsided or evenly distributed geographically.
  • The IMD usually shares this in late May or early June, just around the time the monsoon is imminent over Kerala. The forecast in April is thus only a general indicator and of little public utility. 
  •  A normal monsoon forecast this year is also predicated on the absence of an El Niño, a warming of the Central Pacific linked to the drying up of monsoon rains. However, another ocean parameter called the Indian Ocean Dipole, the positive phase of which is associated with good rains, has also been forecast to be ‘neutral’ or unhelpful for the monsoon.
  •  Much like the update to the average, the IMD must update some processes and lay stress on shorter forecasts, a month or a fortnight ahead, rather than maintain anachronistic traditions of long-range forecasts that are neither accurate nor useful.

 

5) BRICS meet likely in June, India to attend China-hosted event

  • Weeks after the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Delhi, India has agreed to attend a virtual summit of leaders of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping, likely to be held at the end of June
  • India hosted last year’s BRICS summit, which was also held virtually and attended by the five leaders.
  • This is the first summit hosted by China since the tensions broke out at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) due to the PLA’s transgressions in April 2020. Hence finds importance on meeting as well as its outcomes.
  • (leaders of the G-7 grouping comprising Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Canada and the U.S. will meet in the Bavarian Alps on June 26 and 28, just a couple of days after the proposed BRICS summit.)
  • BRICS Health Ministers, including Mansukh Mandaviya, held a virtual launch of the “BRICS Vaccine R&D Centre”. The centre will conduct “vaccine joint research, plant co-construction, authorised local production, and mutual recognition of standards”
  • Tackling terrorism: counter-terrorism officials will meet to discuss “targeted Financial Sanctions Related to Terrorism and Terrorist Financing” during a plenary session.
  • The agenda, expected to include the Ukraine conflict, financial mechanisms to deal with sanctions against Russia, and cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Russia called for the use of national currencies for BRICS countries, integration of payment systems , their own financial messaging system and the creation of an independent BRICS rating agency.

 

 

6) More Hoysala monuments likely to get World Heritage Site tag

 

  • The Hoysala temples at Belur, Halebid and Somanathapura are India’s official nominations for inclusion as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but a few more temples belonging to the same period could join the list in future
  • Belur and Halebid have been in the tentative list since 2014.
  • They were nominated as ‘The Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas’ to which the Keshava temple at Somanathapura was included as part of the serial nomination process.
  • The three monuments await the final declaration as a UNESCO site.
  • If the monuments are approved for inclusion as a World Heritage Site, they will be collectively viewed as a single nomination, with the new ones being an extension of the original property.

 

  • The serial nomination process provides for extension of sites under the same category if the new site meets the UNESCO’s criteria of displaying outstanding universal value besides sharing the same attributes as that of the monuments that were originally included as World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO defines serial nominations as any two or more unconnected sites that may contain a series of cultural or natural properties in different locations, provided they are related because they belong to the same historical and cultural group.

(Important for KAS and KPSC board exams: The other temples in the list include Panchalingeshwara temple at Govindahall,  Kesava temple at Harnahalli, Lakshminarayana temple at Hosaholalu, Ishvara temple at Arsikere, Bucheshwara temple at Koravangala, Nageshwara and Chennakeshava temple at Mosale, Kalyani at Hulikere, Lakshmidevi temple at Doddagaddavalli, Amriteshwara temple and Viranarayana temple at Amrutpura.)

 

Question:

Select the correct statement about UNESCO word heritage sites.

  1. The serial nominations can be made to include the excluded temples in previously declared by UNECO as heritage site
  2. The serial nominations will not undergo any examinations or verifications since the mother sites were already declared as Heritage sites
  3. Recently various Hoysala temples were proposed for serial nomination

Select the correct code:

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

Answer: Option D

 

7) Uniform Code for Medical Device Marketing Practices (UCMDMP)

  • The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) recently published the draft Uniform Code for Medical Device Marketing Practices (UCMDMP), which, it said, is aimed at bringing in a voluntary code to regulate fair marketing practices by the medical device industry.
  • Implementation of the UCMDMP voluntarily s heartening for every company which follows a high level of ethical standards
  • Can restrain the fly-by-night operators who posed a great risk to patients and the reputation of the industry
  • The modus operandi for imparting training and hands-on experiences to the clinicians and other stakeholders on technologies is a unique requirement and at the same time a regulatory necessity to ensure patient safety

 

What are the changes in the rules that were notified?

  • Called the Medical Devices (Amendment) Rules, 2020, these are applicable to devices “intended for internal or external use in the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of disease or disorder in human beings or animals” (as notified by the ministry) and require online registration of these devices “with the Central Licensing Authority through an identified online portal established by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation for this purpose”.

 

  • Among the information that the manufacturer has to upload are “name & address of the company or firm or any other entity manufacturing the medical device along with name and address of manufacturing site of medical device (and) certificate of compliance with respect to ISO 13485 standard accredited by National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies or International Accreditation Forum in respect of such medical device”.

 

  • This would mean that every medical device, either manufactured in India or imported, will have to have quality assurance before they can be sold anywhere in the country. “After furnishing of the above information on the ‘Online System for Medical Devices’ established by Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation for this purpose by the applicant’s, registration number will be generated. Manufacturer shall mention the registration number on the label of the medical device,” reads the gazette notification.

 

  • The notification calls for a voluntary registration within a period of 18 months from April 2020 and obtaining manufacturing/import licence under the Medical Device Rules within 36 months for some devices and 42 months for others.

 

What are the items covered under the Medical Device Rules?

A large number of commonly used items including hypodermic syringes and needles, cardiac stents, perfusion sets, catheters, orthopaedic implants, bone cements, lenses, sutures, internal prosthetic replacements etc are covered under the new rules and will have to comply starting April.

For some items such as sphygmomanometers (used to monitor blood pressure), glucometers (to check blood sugar), thermometers, CT scan and MRI equipment, dialysis and X-ray machines, implants etc, different deadlines for compliance have been set. For example for the first three, it is January 2021, for the others it is April next year. For ultrasound equipment, it is November 2020.

Iridium phones (Satellite phones)

Context: Fifteen signatures of Iridium satellite phones, used by the U.S.-led allied forces in Afghanistan, and Wi-Fi-enabled thermal imagery devices that help terrorists to escape security cordons have been found in the militancy-hit Kashmir Valley

In the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) first restricted the use of Iridium and Thuraya satellite phones and infrastructure, and in 2012 completely banned them the under the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act.

How is a satellite phone different from a cellular phone?

satellite telephonesatellite phone or sat phone is a type of mobile phone that connects to other phones or the telephone network by radio through orbiting satellites instead of terrestrial cell sites, as cell phones do. The advantage of a sat phone is that its use is not limited to areas covered by cell towers; it can be used in most or all geographic locations on the Earth's surface.

 

 

Question:

Al-Aqsa mosque recently in news is located in which of the following country?

  1. Afghanisthan
  2. Ukrain
  3. Iran
  4. None of the above

Answer: The mosque is located in the old city of Jerusalem. Recently in news because Clashes at Al-Aqsa mosque lead to 17 Palestinians death and injuries

                                                                                                                            IAS TAPASSU    

1)Monsoon and LPA:

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasted “normal” monsoon this year
  • The IMD does not expect an El Nino this year.
  • (El Nino is a phenomenon associated with a warming of the Central Pacific and drying up of the rains over northwest India)
  • “Currently La Nina conditions are prevailing over equatorial Pacific. The latest forecasts indicates it will continue during the monsoon,”

Current indications suggest “normal” to “above normal” rainfall in the northern parts of peninsular India, central India and the Himalayan foothills. Many parts of northeast India and southern parts of South India are expected to see a subdued monsoon.

Met Dept. updates long period average rainfall to 87 cm

 India would get 99% of the long period average (LPA) rainfall — changed from 89 cm to 88 cm in 2018, and in the periodic update in 2022, again revised to 87 cm.

A monsoon is considered “normal” when rainfall falls between 96% and 104% of the LPA.

The definition of the LPA was meant to be updated every decade. The 89-cm average was computed based on a 50-year average from 1951 to 2000; the 88 cm based on average for the period from 1961 to 2010; and the latest is based on the average for the period from 1971 to 2020.

The average rainfall changes every decade with roughly 30 years of a declining trend followed by 30 years of an upswing

Currently, India is at the end of a dry epoch and we seem to be entering a wet epoch

The next update will be after a decade

 

2)The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021

Why in news?

The parliamentary panel has urged the Union government to remove the controversial clause in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 that overrides the original Act, making an exception only for elephants.

Section under controversy:

Section 43 of the principal Act clearly states: “No person having in his possession captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy in respect of which he has a certificate of ownership shall transfer by way of sale or offer for sale or by any other mode of consideration of commercial nature, such animal or article or trophy or uncured trophy.”

Why it became a controversy?

  • A live elephant was made exception to section 43
  • The exemption clause to Section 43 says: “This section shall not apply to the transfer or transport of any live elephant by a person having a certificate of ownership, where such person has obtained prior permission from the State government on fulfilment of such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government.”

About the provisions of the bill:

  • The Bill amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.  The Act regulates the protection of wild animals, birds and plants.  The Bill seeks to increase the species protected under the law, and implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

 Key features of the Bill include:

  • CITES: Rationalising schedules:Currently, the Act has six schedules for specially protected plants (one), specially protected animals (four), and vermin species (one).  Vermin refers to small animals that carry disease and destroy food.  The Bill reduces the total number of schedules to four by: (i) reducing the number of schedules for specially protected animals to two (one for greater protection level), (ii) removes the schedule for vermin species, and (iii) inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES (scheduled specimens).
  • Obligations under CITES: The Bill provides for the central government to designate a
    • Management Authority, which grants export or import permits for trade of specimens
    • Scientific Authority, which gives advice on aspects related to impact on the survival of the specimens being traded.
  • As per CITES, the Management Authority may use an identification mark for a specimen.  The Bill prohibits any person from modifying or removing the identification mark of the specimen.  Additionally, every person possessing live specimens of scheduled animals must obtain a registration certificate from the Management Authority.
  • Invasive alien species:The Bills empowers the central government to regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of invasive alien species.
  • Control of sanctuaries:The Act entrusts the Chief Wild Life Warden to control, manage and maintain all sanctuaries in a state.  The Chief Wild Life Warden is appointed by the state government.
  • Conservation reserves: Under the Act, state governments may declare areas adjacent to national parks and sanctuaries as a conservation reserve, for protecting flora and fauna, and their habitat.  The Bill empowers the central government to also notify a conservation reserve.
  • Surrender of captive animals: The Bill provides for any person to voluntarily surrender any captive animals or animal products to the Chief Wild Life Warden.  No compensation will be paid to the person for surrendering such items.  The surrendered items become property of the state government.  

 

3)Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

Why in news?

  • Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Thursday said the first step towards introducing Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in Uttarakhand has been taken as the State Cabinet has given its nod to set up a committee to draft it.
  • Article 44: States that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.
  • Origin of Uniform Civil Code
    • The origin of the UCC dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 stressing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts.
    • But it specifically recommended that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims should be kept outside such codification. 

Why do we need UCC?

  • Uniform Principles: Common Code would enable uniform principles to be applied in respect of aspects such as marriage, divorce, succession etc. so that settled principles, safeguards and procedures can be laid down and citizens are not made to struggle due to the conflicts and contradictions in various personal laws.
  • Promotion of secularism: One set of laws to govern the personal matters of all citizens irrespective of religion is the cornerstone of true secularism.
  • Protection of Vulnerable & Women’s Rights: It will protect the vulnerable sections of society. Women have been denied via personal laws in the name of socio cultural-religious traditions.
  • Prevents religion-based discrimination: Personal laws differentiate between people on grounds of religion.
  • Ending unjust customs and traditions: A rational common and unified personal law will help eradicate many evil, unjust and irrational customs and traditions prevalent across the communities.
  • Eases Administration: UCC would make it easy to administer the huge population base of India.

What are the challenges encountered?

  • Violation of fundamental rights: Religious bodies oppose uniform civil code on the ground that it would be interference into religious affairs which would violate fundamental rights guaranteed under article 25 of the constitution.
  • Reduces diversity: It would reduce the diversity of the nation by painting everyone in one colour.
  • Communal politics: It would be a tyranny to the minority and when implemented could bring a lot of unrest in the country.
  • Threat to Multiculturalism: Indian society has a unique identity in the form of its being multiculturalism, and unified law might do away with these unique characteristics of this nation.
  • Lacking Political Will: Bigger issues have been resolved by the BJP Government like Ayodhya Dispute, repeal of Article 370, so with adequate will from the political community, UCC could also be implemented

BN Rau Committee: On Hindu law

    • An increase in legislation dealing with personal issues in the far end of British rule forced the government to form the B N Rau Committee to codify Hindu law in 1941. 
    • The task of the Hindu Law Committee was to examine the question of the necessity of common Hindu laws. 
    • The committee, in accordance with scriptures, recommended a codified Hindu law, which would give equal rights to women. 
    • The 1937 Act was reviewed and the committee recommended a civil code of marriage and succession for Hindus.

 

4)New way to fight stubble burning and improve air quality in Delhi

Context: Now, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) governing both Delhi and Punjab, collaboration for clean air should be the mantra for both State governments.

How to improve the air quality?

  • Punjab is home to nine of the 132 most polluted cities in the country identified by the Central Pollution Control Board. In 2019
  • First, those in charge of the two States must talk. Setting aside their disagreements on the contribution of stubble burning to Delhi’s air pollution, the States should arrive at a common understanding of sources polluting the region.
  • Second, create platforms for knowledge exchange. A common knowledge centre should be set up to facilitate cross-learning on possible solutions to developmental challenges in both States
  • Third, collaborate to execute proven solutions. The two States could co-design solutions that would improve air quality.
  • Example: The PUSA bio-decomposer (developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute), touted as a solution to stubble burning by the Delhi government, has received mixed reviews from farmers. Further, the decomposer only makes sense for early maturing varieties of paddy, as even with the decomposer, stubble would take between 25 to 30 days to decompose. Therefore, it is of little use in high burn districts such as Sangrur, Punjab, where late-maturing paddy varieties are dominant.
  • Fourth, create a market for diversified crop products. The persistence of stubble burning in Punjab and its contribution to toxic winter pollution in Delhi cannot be denied. Shifting away from the ‘paddy-wheat cycle’ through crop diversification is a sure shot solution to stubble burning.

 

5)RBI’s standing deposit facility to curb inflation

  • The Reserve Bank of India last week introduced the standing deposit facility (SDF) as a tool to control inflation in the country through liquidity absorption. It restored the pre-pandemic liquidity corridor of 50 basis points by fixing SDF at 3.75 per cent as the floor for the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) and marginal standing facility at 4.25 per cent. So, why did the central bank introduce SDF when the reverse repo rate can also be used to absorb liquidity?

What Is Reverse Repo Rate?

  • The reverse repo rate, a liquidity absorption tool, is the interest rate at which the RBI borrows money from commercial banks.

What Is SDF?

  • The standing deposit facility allows the RBI to absorb excess cash from the economy by sucking liquidity from commercial banks without giving government securities in return to the lenders. The RBI has fixed the SDF rate at 3.75 per cent.
  • Under the SDF, the banks can place deposits with the RBI on an overnight basis. The RBI, however, retains the flexibility to absorb liquidity for longer tenors under the SDF with appropriate pricing, as and when the need arises. All liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) participants will be eligible to participate in the SDF scheme, according to the RBI’s website.

SDF vs Reverse Repo

  • Both SDF and reverse repo rate are used by the central bank to absorb liquidity in the system. The difference is that through reverse repo operations, the RBI needs to deposit collateral or government securities to borrow from commercial banks; while SDF does not require any such collateral.

When Was SDF Introduced?

  • The idea of an SDF was first mooted in the Urjit Patel Monetary Policy Committee report in 2014, which later received the government’s nod following an amendment to the RBI Act in 2018, vide the Finance Bill.
  • The necessary legislative amendments to introduce SDF was made in 2018 through the Finance Bill and the RBI has refrained from utilising the facility for a few years now. The idea of an SDF was first mooted in the Urjit Patel Monetary Policy Committee report in 2014.

Repo Rate and MSF

  • Repo rate is the interest rate at which the RBI lends money to the commercial banks and currently stands at four per cent, while the marginal standing facility (MSF) is a window for banks to borrow from the central bank in an emergency situation when inter-bank liquidity dries up completely and stands at 4.25 per cent.

 

6)Soloman islands:

Context:

  • The document among other stipulations has provisions for China’s naval vessels to utilise the islands for logistics support. There have been speculations in the wake of this revelation that China might be building its next overseas naval base in Solomon Islands after Djibouti.

 

  • The Solomon Islands is part of the ethnically Melanesian group of islands in the Pacific and lies between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. 
  • The islands, which were initially controlled by the British Empire during the colonial era, went through the hands of Germany and Japan and then back to the U.K., after the Americans took over the islands from the Japanese during World War II.

The islands became independent in 1978 to become a constitutional monarchy under the British Crown, with a parliamentary system of government.

 

7)Museum on PMs

  • The Pradhan Mantri Sangrahalaya is located in Teen Murti Complex, Delhi and is dedicated to the contributions of all 14 past prime ministers of the country since Independence.

8)Classroom on wheels: Rajasthan

  • A unique digital “classroom on wheels”, launched in Jodhpur on Thursday, will provide education to the students living in villages and remote areas and address the issue of scarcity of good teachers in small towns. It will also generate awareness about digital education among the students and parents.
  • The Shiksha Rath, a modified bus equipped with a digital studio, was flagged off to Jaisalmer district’s Ramdevra village. The students in the village will benefit from the digital classroom comprising a smart interactive panel and high-resolution cameras and with high-speed internet connectivity.

 

                                                                                                                            IAS TAPASSU    

1)Monsoon and LPA:

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasted “normal” monsoon this year
  • The IMD does not expect an El Nino this year.
  • (El Nino is a phenomenon associated with a warming of the Central Pacific and drying up of the rains over northwest India)
  • “Currently La Nina conditions are prevailing over equatorial Pacific. The latest forecasts indicates it will continue during the monsoon,”

Current indications suggest “normal” to “above normal” rainfall in the northern parts of peninsular India, central India and the Himalayan foothills. Many parts of northeast India and southern parts of South India are expected to see a subdued monsoon.

Met Dept. updates long period average rainfall to 87 cm

 India would get 99% of the long period average (LPA) rainfall — changed from 89 cm to 88 cm in 2018, and in the periodic update in 2022, again revised to 87 cm.

A monsoon is considered “normal” when rainfall falls between 96% and 104% of the LPA.

The definition of the LPA was meant to be updated every decade. The 89-cm average was computed based on a 50-year average from 1951 to 2000; the 88 cm based on average for the period from 1961 to 2010; and the latest is based on the average for the period from 1971 to 2020.

The average rainfall changes every decade with roughly 30 years of a declining trend followed by 30 years of an upswing

Currently, India is at the end of a dry epoch and we seem to be entering a wet epoch

The next update will be after a decade

 

2)The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021

Why in news?

The parliamentary panel has urged the Union government to remove the controversial clause in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 that overrides the original Act, making an exception only for elephants.

Section under controversy:

Section 43 of the principal Act clearly states: “No person having in his possession captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy in respect of which he has a certificate of ownership shall transfer by way of sale or offer for sale or by any other mode of consideration of commercial nature, such animal or article or trophy or uncured trophy.”

Why it became a controversy?

  • A live elephant was made exception to section 43
  • The exemption clause to Section 43 says: “This section shall not apply to the transfer or transport of any live elephant by a person having a certificate of ownership, where such person has obtained prior permission from the State government on fulfilment of such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government.”

About the provisions of the bill:

  • The Bill amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.  The Act regulates the protection of wild animals, birds and plants.  The Bill seeks to increase the species protected under the law, and implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

 Key features of the Bill include:

  • CITES: Rationalising schedules:Currently, the Act has six schedules for specially protected plants (one), specially protected animals (four), and vermin species (one).  Vermin refers to small animals that carry disease and destroy food.  The Bill reduces the total number of schedules to four by: (i) reducing the number of schedules for specially protected animals to two (one for greater protection level), (ii) removes the schedule for vermin species, and (iii) inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES (scheduled specimens).
  • Obligations under CITES: The Bill provides for the central government to designate a
    • Management Authority, which grants export or import permits for trade of specimens
    • Scientific Authority, which gives advice on aspects related to impact on the survival of the specimens being traded.
  • As per CITES, the Management Authority may use an identification mark for a specimen.  The Bill prohibits any person from modifying or removing the identification mark of the specimen.  Additionally, every person possessing live specimens of scheduled animals must obtain a registration certificate from the Management Authority.
  • Invasive alien species:The Bills empowers the central government to regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of invasive alien species.
  • Control of sanctuaries:The Act entrusts the Chief Wild Life Warden to control, manage and maintain all sanctuaries in a state.  The Chief Wild Life Warden is appointed by the state government.
  • Conservation reserves: Under the Act, state governments may declare areas adjacent to national parks and sanctuaries as a conservation reserve, for protecting flora and fauna, and their habitat.  The Bill empowers the central government to also notify a conservation reserve.
  • Surrender of captive animals: The Bill provides for any person to voluntarily surrender any captive animals or animal products to the Chief Wild Life Warden.  No compensation will be paid to the person for surrendering such items.  The surrendered items become property of the state government.  

 

3)Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

Why in news?

  • Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Thursday said the first step towards introducing Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in Uttarakhand has been taken as the State Cabinet has given its nod to set up a committee to draft it.
  • Article 44: States that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.
  • Origin of Uniform Civil Code
    • The origin of the UCC dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 stressing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts.
    • But it specifically recommended that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims should be kept outside such codification. 

Why do we need UCC?

  • Uniform Principles: Common Code would enable uniform principles to be applied in respect of aspects such as marriage, divorce, succession etc. so that settled principles, safeguards and procedures can be laid down and citizens are not made to struggle due to the conflicts and contradictions in various personal laws.
  • Promotion of secularism: One set of laws to govern the personal matters of all citizens irrespective of religion is the cornerstone of true secularism.
  • Protection of Vulnerable & Women’s Rights: It will protect the vulnerable sections of society. Women have been denied via personal laws in the name of socio cultural-religious traditions.
  • Prevents religion-based discrimination: Personal laws differentiate between people on grounds of religion.
  • Ending unjust customs and traditions: A rational common and unified personal law will help eradicate many evil, unjust and irrational customs and traditions prevalent across the communities.
  • Eases Administration: UCC would make it easy to administer the huge population base of India.

What are the challenges encountered?

  • Violation of fundamental rights: Religious bodies oppose uniform civil code on the ground that it would be interference into religious affairs which would violate fundamental rights guaranteed under article 25 of the constitution.
  • Reduces diversity: It would reduce the diversity of the nation by painting everyone in one colour.
  • Communal politics: It would be a tyranny to the minority and when implemented could bring a lot of unrest in the country.
  • Threat to Multiculturalism: Indian society has a unique identity in the form of its being multiculturalism, and unified law might do away with these unique characteristics of this nation.
  • Lacking Political Will: Bigger issues have been resolved by the BJP Government like Ayodhya Dispute, repeal of Article 370, so with adequate will from the political community, UCC could also be implemented

BN Rau Committee: On Hindu law

    • An increase in legislation dealing with personal issues in the far end of British rule forced the government to form the B N Rau Committee to codify Hindu law in 1941. 
    • The task of the Hindu Law Committee was to examine the question of the necessity of common Hindu laws. 
    • The committee, in accordance with scriptures, recommended a codified Hindu law, which would give equal rights to women. 
    • The 1937 Act was reviewed and the committee recommended a civil code of marriage and succession for Hindus.

 

4)New way to fight stubble burning and improve air quality in Delhi

Context: Now, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) governing both Delhi and Punjab, collaboration for clean air should be the mantra for both State governments.

How to improve the air quality?

  • Punjab is home to nine of the 132 most polluted cities in the country identified by the Central Pollution Control Board. In 2019
  • First, those in charge of the two States must talk. Setting aside their disagreements on the contribution of stubble burning to Delhi’s air pollution, the States should arrive at a common understanding of sources polluting the region.
  • Second, create platforms for knowledge exchange. A common knowledge centre should be set up to facilitate cross-learning on possible solutions to developmental challenges in both States
  • Third, collaborate to execute proven solutions. The two States could co-design solutions that would improve air quality.
  • Example: The PUSA bio-decomposer (developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute), touted as a solution to stubble burning by the Delhi government, has received mixed reviews from farmers. Further, the decomposer only makes sense for early maturing varieties of paddy, as even with the decomposer, stubble would take between 25 to 30 days to decompose. Therefore, it is of little use in high burn districts such as Sangrur, Punjab, where late-maturing paddy varieties are dominant.
  • Fourth, create a market for diversified crop products. The persistence of stubble burning in Punjab and its contribution to toxic winter pollution in Delhi cannot be denied. Shifting away from the ‘paddy-wheat cycle’ through crop diversification is a sure shot solution to stubble burning.

 

5)RBI’s standing deposit facility to curb inflation

  • The Reserve Bank of India last week introduced the standing deposit facility (SDF) as a tool to control inflation in the country through liquidity absorption. It restored the pre-pandemic liquidity corridor of 50 basis points by fixing SDF at 3.75 per cent as the floor for the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) and marginal standing facility at 4.25 per cent. So, why did the central bank introduce SDF when the reverse repo rate can also be used to absorb liquidity?

What Is Reverse Repo Rate?

  • The reverse repo rate, a liquidity absorption tool, is the interest rate at which the RBI borrows money from commercial banks.

What Is SDF?

  • The standing deposit facility allows the RBI to absorb excess cash from the economy by sucking liquidity from commercial banks without giving government securities in return to the lenders. The RBI has fixed the SDF rate at 3.75 per cent.
  • Under the SDF, the banks can place deposits with the RBI on an overnight basis. The RBI, however, retains the flexibility to absorb liquidity for longer tenors under the SDF with appropriate pricing, as and when the need arises. All liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) participants will be eligible to participate in the SDF scheme, according to the RBI’s website.

SDF vs Reverse Repo

  • Both SDF and reverse repo rate are used by the central bank to absorb liquidity in the system. The difference is that through reverse repo operations, the RBI needs to deposit collateral or government securities to borrow from commercial banks; while SDF does not require any such collateral.

When Was SDF Introduced?

  • The idea of an SDF was first mooted in the Urjit Patel Monetary Policy Committee report in 2014, which later received the government’s nod following an amendment to the RBI Act in 2018, vide the Finance Bill.
  • The necessary legislative amendments to introduce SDF was made in 2018 through the Finance Bill and the RBI has refrained from utilising the facility for a few years now. The idea of an SDF was first mooted in the Urjit Patel Monetary Policy Committee report in 2014.

Repo Rate and MSF

  • Repo rate is the interest rate at which the RBI lends money to the commercial banks and currently stands at four per cent, while the marginal standing facility (MSF) is a window for banks to borrow from the central bank in an emergency situation when inter-bank liquidity dries up completely and stands at 4.25 per cent.

 

6)Soloman islands:

Context:

  • The document among other stipulations has provisions for China’s naval vessels to utilise the islands for logistics support. There have been speculations in the wake of this revelation that China might be building its next overseas naval base in Solomon Islands after Djibouti.

 

  • The Solomon Islands is part of the ethnically Melanesian group of islands in the Pacific and lies between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. 
  • The islands, which were initially controlled by the British Empire during the colonial era, went through the hands of Germany and Japan and then back to the U.K., after the Americans took over the islands from the Japanese during World War II.

The islands became independent in 1978 to become a constitutional monarchy under the British Crown, with a parliamentary system of government.

 

7)Museum on PMs

  • The Pradhan Mantri Sangrahalaya is located in Teen Murti Complex, Delhi and is dedicated to the contributions of all 14 past prime ministers of the country since Independence.

8)Classroom on wheels: Rajasthan

  • A unique digital “classroom on wheels”, launched in Jodhpur on Thursday, will provide education to the students living in villages and remote areas and address the issue of scarcity of good teachers in small towns. It will also generate awareness about digital education among the students and parents.
  • The Shiksha Rath, a modified bus equipped with a digital studio, was flagged off to Jaisalmer district’s Ramdevra village. The students in the village will benefit from the digital classroom comprising a smart interactive panel and high-resolution cameras and with high-speed internet connectivity.

 

 

1)New model to predict Covid vaccine efficacy.

  • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) in Australia have developed a mathematical model to predict how antibodies generated by Covid-19 vaccines offer protection against symptomatic infections. This model aims at finding optimal use of available Covid-19 vaccines while speeding up development of new ones.
  • The idea of developing such a model was felt in the background of different vaccines having differing levels of efficacy. The study has been published in Nature Computational Science.  The researchers first analysed over 80 different neutralising antibodies reported to be generated after vaccination against the surface spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. These antibodies are typically present in the blood for months and prevent virus entry by blocking the spike protein. 
  • The researchers hypothesised that these 80 antibodies constitute a landscape, and each individual produces a unique profile of antibodies which is a small, random subset of this landscape. The team then developed a mathematical model to simulate infections in a virtual patient population of about 3,500 people with different antibody profiles, and predict how many of them would be protected from symptomatic infection following vaccination, according to an IISc release.

2)UN resolution against Ukraine invasion.

  • The United Nations General Assembly has votedto demand that Russia stop its offensive and immediately withdraw all troops, with world powers and tiny island states alike condemning Moscow.
  • The vote on Wednesday saw 141 states vote in favour of the motion, five against and 35 abstentions.
  • Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but can reflect and influence world opinion.
  • The vote came after the 193-member assembly convened its first emergency session since 1997. The only countries to vote with Russia were Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea. Cuba spoke in Moscow’s defence but ultimately abstained.
  • The General Assembly, Reaffirming the paramount importance of the Charter of the United Nations in the promotion of the rule of law among nations.

Aggression against Ukraine

  • Recalling the obligation of all States under Article 2 of the Charter to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, and to settle their international disputes by peaceful means,
  • Recalling also the obligation under Article 2 (2) of the Charter, that all Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the Charter, Security Council resolution 2623 (2022) of 27 February 2022, in which the Council called for an emergency special session of the General Assembly to examine the question contained in document S/Agenda/8979.
  • Recalling General Assembly resolution 377 A (V) of 3 November 1950, entitled “Uniting for peace”, and taking into account that the lack of unanimity of the permanent members of the Security Council at its 8979th meeting has prevented it from exercising its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,
  • Recalling also its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, in which it approved the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming the principles contained therein that the territory of a State shall not be the object of acquisition by another State resulting from the threat or use of force, and that any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of a State or country or at its political independence is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter,
  • Recalling further its resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974, which defines aggression as the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter,
  • Bearing in mind the importance of maintaining and strengthening international peace founded upon freedom, equality, justice and respect for human rights and of developing friendly relations among nations irrespective of their political, economic and social systems or the levels of their development,
  • Recalling the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, signed in Helsinki on 1 August 1975, and the Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Budapest Memorandum) of 5 December 1994,
  • Condemning the 24 February 2022 declaration by the Russian Federation of a “special military operation” in Ukraine,
  • Reaffirming that no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.

Welcoming the continued efforts by the Secretary-General and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international and regional organizations to support de-escalation of the situation with respect to Ukraine, and encouraging continued dialogue,

  1. Reaffirms its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters;
  2. Deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine in violation of Article 2 (4) of the Charter;
  3. Demands that the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine and to refrain from any further unlawful threat or use of force against any Member State;
  4. Also demands that the Russian Federation immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders;
  5.   Deplores the 21 February 2022 decision by the Russian Federation related to the status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine as a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter;
  1. Demands that the Russian Federation immediately and unconditionally reverse the decision related to the status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine;
  2. Calls upon the Russian Federation to abide by the principles set forth in the Charter and the Declaration on Friendly Relations; 1
  3. Calls upon the parties to abide by the Minsk agreements and to work constructively in relevant international frameworks, including in the Normandy format and Trilateral Contact Group, towards their full implementation;
  4. Demands all parties to allow safe and unfettered passage to destinations outside of Ukraine and to facilitate the rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine, to protect civilians, including humanitarian personnel and persons in vulnerable situations, including women, older persons, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, migrants and children, and to respect human rights;
  5. Deplores the involvement of Belarus in this unlawful use of force against Ukraine, and calls upon it to abide by its international obligations;
  6. Condemns all violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights, and calls upon all parties to respect strictly the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocol I thereto of 1977, 3 as applicable, and to respect international human rights law, and in this regard further demands that all parties ensure respect for and the protection of all medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities;
  7. Demands that all parties fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to spare the civilian population, and civilian objects, refraining from attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, and respecting and protecting humanitarian personnel and consignments used for humanitarian relief operations;
  8. Requests the Emergency Relief Coordinator to provide, 30 days after the adoption of the present resolution, a report on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and on the humanitarian response;
  9. Urges the immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine through political dialogue, negotiations, mediation and other peaceful means;
  10. Welcomes and urges the continued efforts by the Secretary-General, Member States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international and regional organizations to support the de-escalation of the current situation, as well as the efforts of the United Nations, including of the United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, and humanitarian organizations to respond to the humanitarian and refugee crisis that the aggression by the Russian Federation has created;
  11. Decides to adjourn the eleventh emergency special session of the General Assembly temporarily and to authorize the President of the General Assembly to resume its meetings upon request from Member States.

3)CCB launches probe against 35 mobile app loan firms.

  • According to the CCB, they are owned by Chinese nationals though locals are shown as directors on official records. 
  • The Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the Bengaluru Police has filed FIRs against 35 companies in the city that are allegedly running illegal mobile app loan businesses. According to the CCB, they are owned by Chinese nationals though locals are shown as directors on official records. 
  • A probe was taken up following a complaint lodged by officials attached to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs , Registrar of Companies, with the Bengaluru Police Commissioner seeking legal action against the companies.

4) water challenge launched.

  • The/Nudge Foundation and Ashirvad Pipes, in partnership with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Central Government, announced a prize for start-ups and innovators working on solutions to provide clean drinking water to the underprivileged and rural households.

The Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA)

The chief advisor to the government on matters related to scientific policy. It is currently a Secretary level position created in 1999 by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. At the time, the position was a Cabinet rank position, with the first PSA being A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. This was followed by Rajagopala Chidambaram who held the rank of a Minister of State and was the PSA for 16 years.[2] The current PSA is K. Vijay Raghavan.The 'Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser', through the Prime Minister's Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) helps scientific cross-sectoral synergy across ministries, institutions and the industry.

 

  • The initiative is aimed to support solutions that address population-scale water challenges. With a total prize of ₹2.5 crore, the programme would run for 18 months and would support entrepreneurs in developing, testing, and scaling solutions through a network of investors, mentors, technology and knowledge partners, and policy circle advisors, stated a release.
  • The prize seeks solutions pertaining to source water purification, smart distribution and storage provisions ensuring sustained clean drinking water availability and accessibility, and recycling solutions such as water source recharge, desalination, wastewater treatment to increase availability of drinking water in regions with water scarcity, the release said.
  • Alongside the Jal Jeevan Mission, The/Nudge Prize provides an opportunity to provide access to clean drinking water across 19 crore households in the country.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM):-

Government of India has restructured and subsumed the ongoing National Rural Drinking Water Programme(NRDWP) into Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) to provide Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every rural household i.e., Har Ghar Nal Se Jal (HGNSJ) by 2024. The following kinds of works/ schemes are proposed to be taken up under JJM:

i.) In-village water supply (PWS) infrastructure for tap water connection to every household;

ii.) Reliable drinking water source development/ augmentation of existing sources;

iii.) Transfer of water (multi-village scheme; where quantity & quality issues are there in the local water sources);

 iv.) Technological intervention for treatment to make water potable (where water quality is an issue, but quantity is sufficient);

v.) Retrofitting of completed and ongoing piped water supply schemes to provide FHTC and raise the service level;

vi.) Grey water management;

vii.) Capacity building of various stakeholders and support activities to facilitate the implementation.

 

5) QUAD meets amid tensions over Ukraine.

  • With the Russian invasion of Ukraine dividing the international community, Prime Minister of India joined a virtual meeting of Quad leaders 3/03/22 where they publicly set aside their differences on the issue of Ukraine and agreed to establish a “new humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism” which will “provide a channel for communication as they each address and respond to the crisis in Ukraine”.
  • The war in Ukraine has had three of the four Quad partners — US, Australia and Japan — criticising Russia while India has chosen to remain “neutral” and abstain during votes against the Kremlin at the UN.
  • The Quad leaders discussed the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and assessed its broader implications.”
  • “They agreed to stand up a new humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism which will enable the Quad to meet future humanitarian challenges in the Indo-Pacific and provide a channel for communication as they each address and respond to the crisis in Ukraine.”

6) All projects in tune with INDUS treaty.

  • India and Pakistanhave discussed the exchange of hydrological and flood data at a meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission during which the Indian side underscored that all its projects are fully compliant with the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.
  • During the 117th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission comprising Indus commissioners of India and Pakistan, held from March 1-3 in Islamabad, both sides discussed the issue of the Fazilka drain, and Pakistan assured that all necessary action will continue to be taken to ensure the free flow of Fazilka drain into the river Sutlej, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
  • This was also the first that the three women members were part of the Indian delegation.

7)NHRC issues notice to Delhi Govt.

  • The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Delhi government and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) over the reported disappearance of water bodies due to alleged unplanned growth and negligence by authorities.
  • The NHRC has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report on the issue, which it said was "a matter of concern."
  • "Notices have been issued to the chief secretary, government of NCT of Delhi and the Vice-Chairman, Delhi Development Authority, calling for a detailed report in the matter within six weeks," the NHRC said in a statement.
  • "There are laws and guidelines to safeguard such vital components of environment. The alleged negligence by the authorities tantamount to "violation of human rights", as the water bodies and wetlands are a vital part of the hydrological cycle, which supports rich biodiversity and provides a wide range of ecosystem services, such as water storage, water purification, flood control, erosion control and microclimate regulation etc. It also helps mitigate urban floods," the NHRC added.

NHRC

About the Organisation

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India was established on 12 October, 1993. The statute under which it is established is the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006.
  • It is in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991, and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its Regulations 48/134 of 20 December, 1993.
  • The NHRC is an embodiment of India’s concern for the promotion and protection of human rights.
  • Section 2(1)(d) of the PHRA defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

Vision & Mission

  • The National Human Rights Commission, India has been set up by an Act of Parliament under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for the protection and promotion of human rights. The functions of the Commission as stated in Section 12 of the Act and apart from enquiry into complaints of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant, the Commission also studies treaties and international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation to the Government.
  • The Commission is responsible for spreading of human rights awareness amongst the masses and encouraging the efforts of all stake holders in the field of human rights literacy not only at the national level but at international level too. NHRC is a unique institution because it is one of the few National Human Rights Institutes (NHRIs) in the world whose Chairperson is the former Chief Justice of the country. The world looks at NHRC of India as a role model in promoting and monitoring effective implementation of promotion and protection of human rights.
  • Section 2(1) (d) of the PHR Act defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
  • The NHRC, India plays an active role in coordinating with other NHRIs of the world to enhance awareness from the perspective of human rights. It has also hosted delegations from UN Bodies and other National Human Rights Commissions as well as members of civil society, lawyers and political and social activists from many countries.

Organisation.

  • The Commission consists of a Chairperson, five full-time Members and seven deemed Members. The statute lays down qualifications for the appointment of the Chairperson and Members of the Commission.

8)More convergence in ties: US official.

  • The new Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Donald Lu, testified before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, on a wide range of aspects of the India-U.S. relationship. In over an hour, Mr. Lu discussed India’s relationship not just with the U.S., but also Russia, China and its Indo-Pacific neighbourhood. He said there was “growing convergence” in the relationship, while also expressing concerns over human rights in India.
  • Lu, who was the Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi between 2010 and 2013, said the relationship was one of the defining partnerships that would determine the security of Asia, the U.S. and the world.“As the world’s largest democracy, India has a vibrant civil society, a free media and independent judicial system. However, are concerned about human rights challenges, including the lack of State Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and reports of ongoing human rights abuses.

9) Jammu to get a village defence group.

  • In an apparent bid to revive and strengthen the erstwhile Village Defence Committees (VDCs), Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered formation of Village Defence Groups (VDGs) in Jammu and Kashmir. In this direction, Under Secretary to the Government of India (MHA) has written a communication to Chief Secretary of J&K, informing him that the issue regarding revised scheme of village defence groups has been examined in the Ministry and a few decisions have been taken.
  • The members of the Village Defence Group shall be designated as Village Defence Guard (VDG).”
    In more vulnerable areas, the order said, persons (VI category) who shall be leading/ coordinating the VDG would be paid of Rs. 4500 per month and other persons (V2 category) who are members of these VDGs on voluntary basis will be paid a uniform rate Rs. 4000 per month. “VDGs will function under the direction of SP/SSP of the concerned District,” the communication reads.
  • The revised scheme will, however, be made effective only after apprising the High Court.
    “In case of vacancy, the decision to fill up the same will be taken later,” the communication reads underlining that competent authority has approved it. (Agencies)

10) Army orders more mini vertical take-off UAVs

  • Mumbai-based drone manufacturer ideaForge has announced that it has won a repeat contract from the Army to supply 200 of its Switch mini Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) along with its accessories. The Army had earlier ordered the same UAV in two separate deals.
  • “ideaForge won this contract against stiff competition from Israel, Russia, Ukraine, France, India and others. The Switch UAV was the only system that emerged successful from the rigorous testing and field trials that the Indian Army is well known for,” a company statement said.
  • The high-altitude Switch UAV is a VTOL drone that takes off vertically like a helicopter and then transitions into flying like a regular plane even in high altitudes with low temperatures, high winds and low density of air, according to the company. In that context, it is a drone that can be carried on the back of a Jawan and deployed, with confidence, to act as the eyes-in-the-sky for our forces, it said.
  • In January 2021, the Army signed a contract with ideaForge for Switch UAVs in a deal worth $20 million. It placed a repeat order to procure an undisclosed number of Switch UAVs to augment surveillance along the LAC. According to the company it has fulfilled the first order as per contractual obligations.
  • Other deals signed by the Army recently include deals for Swarm drones with Indian start ups, Bengaluru-based NewSpace Research and Tech and Noida-based firm Raphe. The drones from New Space Research and Tech can hit targets with 5-10 kg explosives while mR-20 drones of Raphe can carry cargo of up to 20 kg in high altitude areas.
  • In the second half of last year, the Army had also placed orders for ‘SkyStriker’ drones to be manufactured in Bengaluru by a joint venture between Israel’s Elbit System and India’s Alpha Design Technologies which is now part of Adani Group.

11) Beijing based AIIB puts Russia-Belarus projects on hold.

  • The China-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said Thursday it has suspended activities relating to Russia and Belarus until further review, as Western sanctions against the two nations threaten to derail its operations there. 
  • "We the management will do our utmost to safeguard the financial integrity of AIIB, against the backdrop of the evolving economic and financial situation," the bank said. "Under these circumstances, and in the best interests of the bank, management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review."
  • China holds a leading 30% stake and can veto decisions at the development bank, which began operating in January 2016. Beijing has previously voiced opposition to financial sanctions on Russia imposed by the U.S., the European Union and other governments.
  • The AIIB may be re-evaluating its operations in Russia and Belarus over concerns that these sanctions could disrupt debt payments and other activities there.
  • The bank so far has approved $800 million worth of investments and loans to Russia, with another $300 million awaiting the green light. It also had 200 billion euros ($222 billion) worth of proposed projects in Belarus.
  • "AIIB stands ready to extend financing flexibly and quickly and support members who have been adversely impacted by the war, directly or indirectly," the institution also said. It may be considering providing additional liquidity in economies hit hard by surging commodities prices and turmoil in financial markets.
  • The AIIB has 105 members. Russia joined in December 2015 shortly before its launch, and Belarus in January 2019.

AIIB

  • The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank(AIIB) is a multilateral development bank that aims to improve economic and social outcomes in Asia. The bank currently has 105 members, including 16 prospective members from around the world. The bank started operation after the agreement entered into force on 25 December 2015, after ratifications were received from 10 member states holding a total number of 50% of the initial subscriptions of the Authorized Capital Stock.
  • The United Nationshas addressed the launch of AIIB as having potential for "scaling up financing for sustainable development" and to improve the global economic governance. The starting capital of the bank was US$100 billion, equivalent to 23 of the capital of the Asian Development Bank and about half that of the World Bank.
  • The bank was proposed by Chinain 2013 and the initiative was launched at a ceremony in Beijing in October 2014. It received the highest credit ratings from the three biggest rating agencies in the world, and is seen as a potential rival to the World Bank and IMF.

Governance.

  • The bank's governance structure is composed of the Board of Governors as the top-level and highest decision-making body. It is composed of 1 governor for each member state of the bank and in principle meets once a year.
  • The board of directors, composed of 12 governors, each representing one or more member is responsible for daily operations and tasks delegated to it by the board of governors. Nine of those members are from within the Asia-Pacific region and three representing members outside the region.
  • Of the non-regional directors, 1 constituency is made up of EU member states having the Euro as their currency, and 1 from other European countries.

Geopolitical implication in Asia-Pacific and beyond

  • There is no consensus in the United States about the role of the AIIB. G. John Ikenberry (Princeton University) sees the AIIB as part of "China's emerging institutional statecraft," but argues that it is not clear whether the institution will tie China more deeply into the existing order or become a vehicle to challenge the order. Phillip Lipscy (Stanford University) argues that the United States and Japan should support the AIIB to encourage China's peaceful global leadership and discourage China from pursuing coercive or military options. On the other hand, Paola Subacchi (Chatham House) argues that the AIIB represents a threat to US-dominated global governance.
  • Think-tanks such as Chatham House, the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydneyand the World Pensions Council (WPC) have argued that the successful establishment of a new supranational financial powerhouse headquartered in PRC would be facilitated by the large number of participating developed economies. These experts observe that the establishment of the Beijing-based AIIB does not necessitate rivalry, when economic cooperation is possible, and that the decision by the UK to participate advances its own interests even if some of its allies are opposed.

 12)Gas, aluminium hit fresh records.

  • Commodity prices raced still higher on Thursday as Russia's invasion of Ukraine entered a second week, disrupting global raw material flows and boosting natural gas, coal and aluminium to record peaks, while crude oil and wheat scaled multi-year highs.
  • Russia's stature as a top supplier in oil, gas, metals and grain has meant that harsh sanctions applied to Russian entities following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has derailed critical resource supply chains.
  • The invasion has upended the markets, supply chains are ceasing to work, which means we have dislocations all over the place. In just the past week since Russia launched its invasion, Dutch gas prices have more than doubled, Newcastle coal has surged by 85% and Brent crude oil has climbed by a fifth.
  • Analysts warned that soaring prices due to supply shocks from Russia and a rebounding economy in top commodity consumer China are likely to spur demand destruction in the short-term.

ALUMINIUM HITS RECORD

  • On metals markets, aluminium roared to another record peak, touching $3,741 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange, while nickel surged 8% to its highest in 11 years.
  • In grains, Russia and Ukraine were projected to account for 29% of global wheat exports in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so global wheat prices have jolted higher to try to accommodate a big drop in supplies from both counties.
  • Chicago wheat extended its surge to set another 14-year high, taking weekly gains to more than a quarter, as Russia's invasion continued to fan fears of massive disruption to exports from the Black Sea region.
  • S. wheat futures gained 7.2% to $11.16 a bushel, its highest since March 2008.
  • Russia and Ukraine also account for 19% of corn exports and 80% of exports of sunflower oil, which competes with soyoil and palm oil.
  • Malaysian palm oil prices advanced as much as 5.7%, hovering near record highs, on expectations that buyers would turn to the tropical oil to compensate for limited supplies of Black Sea sunflower oil.

13)INDIA-CHINA DISPUTE

Context:

  • Violence in the Galwan Valley on the India-China border has claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers.

Where is Galwan Valley?

  • The valley refers to the land that sits between steep mountains that buffet the Galwan River.
  • The River has its source in Aksai Chin, on China’s side of the LAC, and it flows from the east to Ladakh, where it meets the Shyok River on India’s side of the LAC.
  • The valley is strategically located between Ladakh in the west and Aksai Chin in the east, which is currently controlled by China as part of its Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
  • At its western end are the Shyok River and the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road. Its eastern mouth lies not far from China’s vital Xinjiang Tibet road, now called the G219 highway.

Where does the Line of Actual Control lie?

  • The LAC lies east of the confluence of the Galwan and Shyok rivers in the valley, up to which both India and China have been patrolling in recent years.
  • After the June 15 clash, however, China has claimed that the entire valley lies on its side of the LAC.

Territorial claims and LAC claims

  • They are not the same. The distinction between territorial claims and LAC claims is sometimes blurred.
  • The LAC refers to territory under the effective control of each side, not to their entire territorial claim. For instance, India’s territorial claims extend 38,000 sq km on the other side of the LAC across all of Aksai Chin, but the LAC India observes runs through the valley.

It is true that the LAC has never been demarcated and there are differences in perception of where it lies in more than a dozen spots, but there have not been previous incidents in the valley.

Why the Indian Army did not use firearms?

Background

  • Indian troops were armed. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving the post.
  • Those at Galwan too did carry arms. But, long-standing practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) did not allow the use of firearms during faceoffs.

1996 Agreement

  • The 1996 agreement is on Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas.
  • Article VI (1) of the 1996 agreement says “With a view to preventing dangerous military activities along the line of actual control in the India-China border areas… Neither side shall open fire, cause bio-degradation, use hazardous chemicals, conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometres from the line of actual control. This prohibition shall not apply to routine firing activities in small arms firing ranges.”
  • However, it is Article VI (4) that is more applicable in the current instance: “If the border personnel of the two sides come in a face-to-face situation due to differences on the alignment of the line of actual control or any other reason, they shall exercise self-restraint and take all necessary steps to avoid an escalation of the situation. Both sides shall also enter into immediate consultations through diplomatic and/or other available channels to review the situation and prevent any escalation of tension.”

2005 Agreement

  • In Article 1: “the two sides will resolve the boundary question through peaceful and friendly consultations. Neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means”.
  • The 2013 Agreement on Border Defence Cooperation also stated that neither side shall use its military capability against the other.

Since no round has been fired on the Sino-India border in Ladakh after 1962 and with a view to preventing any escalation, these routines of not firing have been drilled into the soldiers.

Possible factors for Chinese aggression:

India’s border infrastructure:

  • India has been strengthening its border infrastructure along the LAC.
  • The strengthening of the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi road may have angered the Chinese. The Chinese demand in the ongoing negotiations is also premised on India stopping its infrastructure development.

Change in the status of J&K:

  • One popular argument is that China’s move is driven by local factors such as India’s decision to change the status of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Read more on this in the article, Article 370.

Bilateral tensions:

  • The relations between the two countries have been steadily deteriorating.
  • India has been against China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China further views India’s assertions regarding Gilgit-Baltistan as an implicit attack on the CPEC.
  • India has put curbs and restrictions on Chinese foreign direct investment.

China’s internal dynamics:

  • The internal pressures that have been generated within China — in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are also influencing Chinese behaviour.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is the most serious health crisis that China has faced since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The Chinese economy has been on the downslide which is also contributing to increasing political pressure on the country’s leadership.
  • The coupling of political and economic tensions has greatly aggravated pressures on Chinese leadership and the rising tide of anti-China sentiment the world over has further worsened matters.
  • Chinese aggression has been observed not only along the LAC but also in the South China Sea. This might indicate a deliberate planning on the part of the Chinese leadership to divert attention from domestic issues.

India’s alignment with the U.S.:

  • While India professes to be non-aligned, it is increasingly perceived as having aligned with the U.S.
  • India’s United States tilt is perhaps most pronounced in the domain of U.S.-China relations. Recent instances are often highlighted to confirm the perception that India tends to side with the U.S. and against China whenever there is a conflict of interest between the two.
    • An evident degree of geopolitical convergence also exists between the U.S. and India in the Indo-Pacific, again directed against China.
    • India is a member of the Quad (the U.S., Japan, Australia and India) which has a definite anti-China connotation.
    • The U.S. President’s proposal of redesigning the G-7, including countries such as India (India has conveyed its acceptance), but excluding China, provides China yet another instance of India and China being in opposite camps.
  • India is being increasingly projected as an alternative model to China, and being co-opted into a wider anti-China alliance which China clearly perceives as a provocation.

India’s traditional clout in its neighbourhood was slipping:

  • For India, tensions with Pakistan have been high keeping the troops occupied in the border areas.
  • Nepal raised boundary issues with India.
  • Sri Lanka is diversifying its foreign policy and China is making deep inroads into that region.
  • Bangladesh was deeply miffed with the Citizenship Amendment Act.
  • Even in Afghanistan, where Pakistan, China, Russia and the U.S. are involved in the transition process, India is out.

A confluence of all these factors, which point to a decline in the country’s smart power, allowed China to make aggressive moves on the LAC.

Concerns:

  • Though the LAC has never been demarcated there had not been previous incidents in the valley. By now staking a claim to the entire Galwan Valley and up to the confluence of the rivers, China is, in India’s view, unilaterally altering the LAC.
  • This goes against the 1993 Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement (BPTA), under which India and China agreed to strictly respect and observe the LAC between the two sides.

Undemarcated borders:

  • The alignment of the LAC has never been agreed upon, and it has neither been delineated nor demarcated.
  • There is no official map in the public domain that depicts the LAC. The current understanding of the LAC reflects the territories that are, at present, under the control of each side, pending a resolution of the boundary dispute.

Difference in claims:

  • For the most part, in the western sector, the LAC broadly corresponds with the border as China sees it. However, India and China do not agree on the alignment of the LAC everywhere.
  • Differences in perception, particularly in 13 spots in the western, middle and eastern sectors of the border, often lead to what are called “face-offs”, when patrols encounter each other in these grey zones that lie in between the different alignments. Some of these areas are Chumar, Demchok and the north bank of the Pangong Lake in the western sector, Barahoti in the middle sector, and Sumdorong Chu in the east.

Chinese tactics:

  • China has in several territorial disputes, intentionally left its claims ambiguous.
  • The Chinese haven’t stuck to their previously agreed positions. China’s alignments of the LAC have kept changing.
  • The border skirmishes along the Line of Actual Control seem to be indicative of the Chinese approach to use the border problem to pressurize India on other issues.

Points of Discussion

  • The principal responsibility for intelligence assessment and analysis concerning China rests with the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), and to a lesser extent, the Defence Intelligence Agency.

Summit diplomacy

  • “Summit conferences apply to the meeting of heads of government of the leading powers in an effort to reach broad measures of agreement”.

Why are there more summits?

  • The rise of summitry is a consequence of the paucity of resources of smaller nations who are less able to finance and sustain a vast diplomatic service and thus rely on summits for representation and negotiation.
  • It will speed up the process as heads of countries are directly negotiating.

Concerns

  • The preference given recently to summit diplomacy over traditional foreign policy-making structures proved to be a severe handicap.
  • Summit diplomacy cannot be a substitute for carefully structured foreign office policymaking.
  • Summits put professional diplomats briefly into the shade.
    • India believed the tensions between India and China were diffused after the Doklam crisis as we had meetings at the highest level in Wuhan and Mamallapuram.
    • Personal bonhomie with leaders will not result in friendly ties with countries.
  • Prime Minister Nehru had a good equation with Premier Zhou En-lai.

What’s next?

  • Bilateral relations in other areas will be under considerable strain. Soft landings cannot be expected.
  • No leadership-level contact between the top leaders of the two countries can be anticipated in the near term.
  • Indian businesses in China and Chinese business operations in India can expect the going to be tougher than before. The scenario of trade and investments could encounter similar obstacles.
  • In areas that impinge on national security, as in the cyber field and in telecommunications, and in technologies that enable spying and surveillance (5G, for instance), stringent controls, exclusions and clampdowns can be expected in the treatment and the entry of Chinese companies in India.

Should India remain Non-Aligned?

Yes

  • The circumstances that led to the India-China war of 1962 offers an analysis of the Chinese approach.
  • Faced with the disaster of the Great Leap Forward and increasing isolation globally, the Chinese chose to strike at India rather than confront Russia or the West.
  • This is not the time for India to be seen as the front end of a belligerent coalition of forces seeking to put China in its place.
  • India has consistently followed a different policy in the past, and it is advisable that it remains truly non-aligned and not become part of any coalition that would not be in India’s long-term interest. 

No

  • It will be in India’s economic and strategic interests to align with the US and the Western world which will remain together despite the fissures under Trump. India needs investments, technology, and a manufacturing ecosystem to employ millions of its young population and improve its living standards.
    • It requires advanced weapons and technologies for its military.
    • India is ambitious and wants to be a great power and the US and the Western world recognise this and are willing to partner India.
  • The US is in talks with India to restructure Global Supply Chains. The US is encouraging its companies to look at India as an alternative to China.
    • This presents a big opportunity for India whose continental size, large market, young and skilled labour, and shared values with the West makes it an attractive destination. In fact, an alliance of democracies could crystallise with economic cooperation at its core.
  • Defence ties between the two have been cemented with increasing weapons sales and important defence agreements.
    • There are regular bilateral and multilateral military exercises and dialogues on economic and strategic cooperation.
  • On the other hand, Beijing wants to keep India boxed into South Asia, and tries to keep it off balance using Pakistan to which it supplies arms and supports. It has made inroads into the region using the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Much of India’s diplomacy in the last few years has been to counter China and its influence. India faces China as a competitor in Africa, West Asia, Central Asia and the Indo-Pacific. Indo-US ties are complementary, and a formal alliance will help realise the full potential of these relations.

Conclusion

  • Non-alignment or being a swing state makes sense if the gains to be derived from either side are equal. China will not be to India, what the Soviet Union was.
  • In the post-COVID-19 world, India will have to make a disruptive choice — of alignment.

Way forward:

Given the current circumstances, India should strategize an action plan aimed towards protecting its sovereign interests.

Prepare militarily:

  • India needs to be prepared, continue to build roads and improve the infrastructure along the border, to keep itself ready to deal with any contingency.
  • India must improve the military capacity of the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command given its immense geostrategic value, as it overlooks Asia’s maritime strategic lifeline and the world’s most important global sea lane.

Pressure points:

  • India could choose to leverage the sensitivity of the Chinese to the one-China policy and other vulnerabilities like the Tibet issue and Hong Kong protests, to force a change in China’s attitude.
  • This would allow India to signal to China that it has options, and that China would be wise not to escalate these situations too far.

Shifting focus:

  • To counter China India must look for options beyond LAC.
  • The South China Sea/Indian Ocean Region maritime domain presents India with the best options where the regional geopolitical context is favourable.
    • India should demonstrate that it is willing and capable of influencing the maritime balance in East Asia, where China faces off a combination of the United States, Vietnam, Australia, Indonesia and sometimes Malaysia and the Philippines as well.
    • China perceives a vulnerability in the Malacca strait given its marked dependence on the sea lines of communication for its vast trade and energy imports.

Going global:

  • India should go global to defend against China. India’s counter to Chinese power in the Himalayas should be to assume a more global role of its own.
  • In Asia and Africa, debt-traps induced by the BRI are gradually stoking discontent. If India focuses on leveraging its advantages as a development partner, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era, it can use its newfound influence as a bargaining chip against Chinese interests in these countries.

Building alliances:

  • India must build power-balancing alliances.
  • Many countries are seeking leadership from other quarters to counter-balance Chinese influence. In Southeast Asia, countries are pushing back against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
    • This provides an opportunity to build partnerships with such countries to balance China’s growing influence.
  • India can give itself leverage against China by improving its bilateral relationships with other countries that are similarly worried about China’s growing influence — such as Australia, Vietnam, Japan, and even the U.K.
  • Several foreign policy experts argue that India’s strategic dealing with China has to begin with South Asia. In this regard, it is important to reinvigorate SAARC.
    • One way to reinvigorate SAARC is to revive the process of South Asian economic integration.

Aligning with the United States:

  • This is also an opportunity for India to align its interests much more strongly and unequivocally with the U.S. as a principal strategic partner.
  • A closer alignment with the U.S. represents India’s opportunity to counter China, while efforts to foster regional partnerships and cultivate domestic military capabilities, although insufficient by themselves, could play a complementary role.
  • Moving into a closer partnership with the US would allow India an opportunity to rebalance the Indo-Pacific region.
  • India should also infuse more energy into its relations with Japan, Australia, and the ASEAN.

Taking the long view:

  • India’s leverage and balancing power within the Indo-Pacific and the world beyond stems from its strong democratic credentials, the dynamism of its economy, its leading role in multilateral institutions, and the strategic advantage of its maritime geography — an asset possessed by few other nations, and which must be deployed much more effectively to counterbalance the Chinese ingress into this oceanic space that surrounds us.
  • The events in Galwan Valley should be a wake-up call to many of India’s Asian friends and partners enabling a high-resolution envisioning of Chinese aggressiveness.

Conclusion:

  • Good neighbourhood relations are crucial for national stability and well-being.
  • If India is to disengage from economic involvement with China and build the capacities and capabilities it needs in manufacturing, and in supply chain networks closer home, it cannot be a prisoner of the short term.
  • It is time for India to boldly take the long view in this area as also on its South Asia policy.
  • India cannot continue to remain in a “reactive mode” to Chinese provocations and it is time to take an active stand. Since India’s choices vis-à-vis China are circumscribed by the asymmetry in military power, resort must be sought in realpolitik.
  • This would force China to reconsider its tactics and force it towards negotiations with India.

14)SARAS-3 Radio Telescope can detect faint cosmological signals.

  • Astrophysicists at Bengaluru-based Raman Research Institute (RRI) have emerged as the first in the world to convincingly refute a four-year-old discovery of the most elusive and faint radio signal from the time of birth of the first stars and galaxies in the very early stages of the universe — a discovery touted as “worthy of two Nobel Prizes’’. They did this with their sophisticated radio telescope, SARAS-3, developed at RRI’s Cosmic Microwave Background Distortion Laboratory.

The Raman Research Institute (RRI):-

·       Was founded in 1948 by the Indian physicist and Nobel Laureate, Sir C V Raman, to continue his studies and basic research after he retired from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. Sir C V Raman served as its director carrying on his personal research until his demise in 1970. It was funded personally by him and with donations from private sources.

·       The Raman Research Institute is now an autonomous research institute engaged in research in basic sciences. In 1972, the RRI was restructured to become an aided autonomous research institute receiving funds from the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India. A set of Regulations and Bye-Laws were framed for its administration and management. 

 

  • Astronomers from Arizona State University(USA) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology(USA), had announced the detection of the earliest radio signal with a hydrogen signature in February 2018. They claimed to be the first to “peer” into just 180 million years after the Big Bang marked the birth of the 13.8 billion-year-old universe.  
  • The ASU-MIT discovery using the EDGES radio telescope was considered a significant development in astrophysics as this particular radio signal — referred to ‘Cosmic Dawn Radio Signal’ — marked the presence of the earliest evidence of hydrogen in the universe. It marked the detection of the first established presence of this element which is a bedrock for the formation of stars and galaxies.

Note: Radio waves can travel through space. ... That's because radio waves aren't mechanical -- they're electromagnetic. Electromagnetic waves can transmit energy through a vacuum. Once your radio receives the signal, it can convert the signal into sound, which will travel through the air in your space suit without a problem.

Cosmic dawn-As the first stars collapsed and began to shine, their intense ultraviolet radiation kicked out the atoms' electrons, creating bubbles of ionized hydrogen that only expanded as galaxies grew. This era is called the cosmic dawn or the epoch of reionization.

 

  • The excitement of the discovery had got the better of Abraham “Avi” Loeb, a theoretical physicist who works on astrophysics and cosmology at Harvard University, who said, “This discovery is worthy of two Nobel Prizes!” It also encouraged astrophysicists worldwide to invent new theories based on the ASU-MIT findings.
  • However, RRI’s findings by a team led by Prof Ravi Subrahmanyan, using the SARAS-3 radio telescope, may just steamroll all that. RRI astrophysicists said SARAS-3 radio telescope is designed to detect faint cosmological signals, especially radiation emitted by hydrogen atoms at 21-cm wavelength (1.4 GigaHertz) from the depths of the cosmos(Cosmos often simply means "universe". But the word is generally used to suggest an orderly or harmonious universe).
  • The researchers said the radio signal from Cosmic Dawn is expected to arrive on earth in the frequency of 50- 200 MH. SARAS-3 gave out data showing the parameters pertaining to frequency and temperature of the hydrogen-bearing radio signal were not in that range to qualify as the earliest radio signal with a hydrogen signature, explained Dr Saurabh Singh, Research Scientist at RRI who carried out rigorous statistical analysis of the SARAS-3 data.

15) Gadkari unveils  highway project worth 4k crore.

  • Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has suggested Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to work on a project to develop smart villages’ alongside the new stretches of National Highways coming up between Chennai and Bengaluru. According to Gadkari, it is possible to overcome the rising congestion in Bengaluru City by developing smart villages close to the greenfield highways which are due to come up between Bengaluru Rural and Kolar.
  • Laying the foundation for five highway projects in Belagavi, at a cost of Rs 3,972 crore, Gadkari said wherever new highways get built, industrialists usually buy lands nearby at lower prices. Also suggest CM Bommai to work on a project to acquire such lands and develop smart villages on the lines of smart cities being developed across the country. The Union Government will provide all the required support to the State to make this project possible.
  • Under the greenfield highway corridor project, Gadkari said his department was laying roads across 9,000 km linking several states, including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, spending an estimated Rs 3 lakh crore. The industrial sector in Bengaluru would get a huge boost with the development of this project.

 Greenfield highway corridor project

  • The Government had signed loan agreement with the World Bank to develop Green National Highway Corridors (GNHCP). The project include Upgradation of various National Highways.
  • The project will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent during the construction process, as compared to normal roads, and further reduce emissions in the operation and maintenance of highways(as green highways will use less cement, bitumen and asphalt which are more polluting)”, explained the World Bank.
  • India's first smart and green highway, the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE), built at a cost of Rs 11,000 crore.

16)Climate change to hit India’s food bowl.

  • India is one of the countries to be most hurt economically by climate change and it is also the most vulnerable country in terms of crop production and in terms of the population that will be affected by sea-level rise in bigger coastal cities, according to the IPCC Working Group II. The report says rice, wheat, pulses, coarse and cereal yields could fall almost 9 per cent by 2050 in India due to high temperatures and extreme weather events such as droughts, extreme rainfall, heatwaves and floods. In South India, maize production could decrease 17 per cent if emissions are high.
  • These disruptions to crop production are expected to cause price spikes in India, threatening food affordability, food security, and economic growth. Sea-level rise will threaten the population, land-use patterns and infrastructure in India and by the middle of the century, around 35 million people in India could face annual coastal flooding, with 45-50 million at risk by the end of the century if the emissions remain high. Far fewer people will be at risk if the emissions are lower, according to a study cited by the IPCC report.

 

 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change. It was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by United Nations General Assembly. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it is composed of 195 member states.

The IPCC provides objective and comprehensive scientific information on anthropogenic climate change, including the natural, political, and economic impacts and risks, and possible response options. It does not conduct original research nor monitor climate change, but rather undertakes a periodic, systematic review of all relevant published literature.Thousands of scientists and other experts volunteer to review the data and compile key findings into "Assessment Reports" for policymakers and the general public; this has been described as the biggest peer review process in the scientific community.

  • The economic costs of sea-level rise and river flooding for India would also be among the highest in the world. Direct damage is estimated between USD 24 billion if emissions are cut only as rapidly as currently promised, and USD 36 billion, if emissions are high and ice sheets are unstable, according to another study cited by the report. It also found damage from sea-level rise in Mumbai alone could amount to up to USD 162 billion a year by 2050 if emissions continue to rise.
  • Most of the coastal cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Puri and Goa are all at greater risk of rapidly changing climatic conditions. Cities must be resilient to cater to some of these challenges which will become an order of the day impacting our economies and livelihoods.
  • By the mid-21st Century, the international transboundary river basins of Amu Darya, Indus and Ganges could face severe water scarcity challenges due to climatic variability and changes acting as stress multipliers. The report also shows globally glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate.

POINT OF SAFE RETURN

  • If emissions continue to rise, wet-bulb temperatures — a measure that combines heat and humidity — will approach or exceed the unsurvivable limit of 35°C over much of India.
  • Lucknow and Patna are among the cities predicted to reach wet-bulb temperatures of 35°C if emissions continue to rise.
  • The economic costs of sea-level rise and river flooding for India would be among the highest in the world.
  • Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Mumbai, Indore, and Ahmedabad are all identified as at risk of reaching wet-bulb temperatures of 32-34°C with continued emissions .
  • Direct damage is estimated at between $24 billion if emissions are cut only about as rapidly as currently promised, and $36 billion, if emissions are high and ice sheets are unstable.
  • 40% Climate change and rising demand mean that about 40% of people in India will live with water scarcity by 2050 compared with about 33% now.
  • Global income reduction by 23%, in India 92% decline in 2100 than it would be sans climate change.
  • Overall, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chattisghard, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab will be the most severely affected.
  • Several major economies could see even larger economic declines because of climate change, GDP losses by the end of the century of up to 92% in India.
  • Rice, wheat, pulses &  cereal yields could fall almost 9% by 2050.
  • In South India, maize production could decrease 17% if emissions are high.

17)National tele-mental program.

  • To address the huge burden of mental disorders and shortage of qualified professionals in the field of mental health, Government of India has been implementing National Mental Health Program (NMHP) since 1982. The district Mental Health Program was added to the Program in 1996.
  • The Program was re-strategized in 2003 to include two schemes, viz. Modernization of State Mental Hospitals and Up-gradation of Psychiatric Wings of Medical Colleges/General Hospitals. The Manpower development scheme (Scheme-A & B) became part of the Program in 2009.

Objectives

1)To ensure the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all in the foreseeable future;

2)To encourage the application of mental health knowledge in general healthcare and in social development;

3)To promote community participation in the mental health service development; and

4)To enhance human resource in mental health sub-specialties.

Components:

  1. District and sub-district level activities under NHM:
  2. District Mental Health Program:
  3. Envisages provision of basic mental health care services at the community level:
  4. Service provision: provision of mental health out-patient & in-patient mental health services with a 10 bedded inpatient facility.
  5. Out-Reach Component:
  • Satellite clinics: 4 satellite clinics per month at CHCs/ PHCs by DMHP team
  • Targeted Interventions:
  • Life skills education & counselling in schools,
  • College counselling services,
  • Work place stress management, and
  • Suicide prevention services
  1. Sensitization & training of health personnel: at the district & sub-district levels
  2. Awareness camps: for dissemination of awareness regarding mental illnesses and related stigma through involvement of local PRIs, faith healers, teachers, leaders etc
  3. Community participation:
  • Linkages with Self-help groups, family and caregiver groups & NGOs working in the field of mental health
  • Sensitization of enforcement officials regarding legal provisions for effective implementation of Mental Health Act
  1. As of now, 241 districts have been covered under the scheme & it is proposed to expand DMHP to all districts in a phased manner (Annexure-II)

18)Russia won’t participate in Indian Defence Expo.

  • Russia will not be participating in India’s five-day flagship defence exhibition Defexpo, due in Gandhinagar from March 10, sources said, citing war in Ukraine. A meeting between India and Russia is due at Mahatma Mandir on the second day of the expo on March 11. The same day will see the India-Africa defense dialogue. Several key leaders and officials from Russia and Africa are expected to participate in the dialogue.
  • A government official said at this point, there was no confirmation from the Russian side and that their schedule was not known. “We are going as per schedule and have not received any communication from the Ministry of Defence about any change in the schedule. If physical presence of the Russian team is not possible, then we can have digital interaction,” said an officer.
  • As many as 973 exhibitors, including 121 foreign exhibitors from 63 countries, are already registered. PM will inaugurate the exhibition. The exhibition will be held in a hybrid format, with stalls in both physical and virtual realms to ensure greater engagement as the exhibitors will be able to cater to both physical and virtual attendees. 

19)1,000 notified monuments to get pvt operators.

  • The Union culture ministry is working on a plan to hand over about 1,000 notified heritage sites and monuments to private players or non-government organisations for maintenance under a special arrangement such as the Monument Mitra scheme (adopt a heritage).          
  • Targeting about 1,000 historical sites or monuments across states to be placed under Monument Mitra schemes or some other variants. We are working on it. This modal will help to spruce up several monuments such as Purana Quila and Safdarjung Tomb (in Delhi). They are not in very good state. Once improved, can promote them for tourism promotion.
  • The Monument Mitra project was envisioned to provide an enhanced tourism experience and also to ensure quality and inclusive provision of amenities and facilities at heritage sites According to the ministry, the government has signed MoUs with private entities for more than 24 sites such as Dara Shikoh Library Building (Delhi), Aguada Fort (Goa),  Bara Lao ka Gumbad (Delhi), Rani-ki-Vav (Gujarat), Tomb of Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khana (Delhi), Gandikota Fort (Andhra Pradesh), Red Fort (Delhi), and Ajanta Caves (Maharashtra).
  • The officials said that besides better upkeep and creation of amenities, such initiatives would lead to huge employment generation. “Once we are successful, the states and municipal bodies will also follow and project tourism opportunities,” said the official.  

20)Team to go to Africa for Cheetah Study.

  • The efforts to reintroduce Cheetahs into the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior-Chambal region have started gaining pace. A five-member team from the Centre and MP, returned from Africa.
  • India had spotted its last Cheetah in Chhattisgarh in 1947. After the death of last Cheetah, it was declared extinct in 1952. Supreme Court.
  • A MoU regarding the transfer of Cheetahs is being sent to African stakeholders via the central government. It is probably the first-ever inter-continent translocation project of a predator that is being taken place

KUNO NATIONAL PARK

  • Kunois a national park in Madhya PradeshIndia. Established in 1981 as a wildlife sanctuary with an area of 344.686 km2 (133.084 sq mi) in the Sheopur and Morena districts, it was also known as Kuno-Palpur and Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary. In 2018, it was given the status of a national park. It is part of the Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion.
  • The sanctuary derives its name from the Kuno, a tributary of the river Chambal; this perennial river flows through the middle, bisecting the sanctuary.

21)1000 crore for Mekedatu Project.

  • The BJP Government in Karnataka, which is under pressure to act on the proposed ₹9,000-crore Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir and Drinking Water Project in the wake of the recently-concluded padayatra by the Opposition Congress, has allocated ₹1,000 crore for the project in the State Budget.
  • The project has assumed importance not only because it would regulate the flow of water to Tamil Nadu, but also seeks to supply drinking water to Bengaluru city and surrounding areas which are under pressure to take care of the water requirement of its growing population.
  • The Budget also announced allocation of ₹5,000 crore for implementation of Phase-3 of the Upper Krishna Project. It says that priority would be given to land acquisition, rehabilitation, and reconstruction work.
  • It has also given ₹1,000 crore for implementation of Kalasa and Banduri Nala Diversion Projects. It says that action is being taken to obtain necessary clearances from the Centre for utilisation of allocated water to the projects in accordance with the Mahadayi Tribunal Award. ₹3,000 crore has been been given for launching works related to stage 1 of Yettinahole Comprehensive Drinking Water Project during this financial year.
  • Mekedatu is a location along Kaveri in the border of Chamarajanagar and Ramanagara Districts. From this point, about 3.5 kilometers downstream, the river Kaveri flows through a deep and narrow gorge. Mekedatu' means 'goat's leap' in Kannada. The important tributaries joining the Cauvery are Harangi, Hemavati, Kabini, Suvarnavathi and Bhavani.

The Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka’s south

  • Its only about a 100 km away from Bengaluru, the state’s capital. The sanctuary gets its name from the Cauvery river that flows through its serene landscape. Spread over a thousand sq. km, this sanctuary is home to some of India’s endemic and endangered species of wild flora and fauna.
  • The Mekedatu dam, with a capacity of 67 TMC, is set to come up near the confluence of the Arkavathy and Cauvery streams at a place called Sangama, inside the sanctuary, and will inundate around 50 sq. km of forests. This will have an adverse impact on species like the critically endangered orange-finned mahseer and the endemic grizzled giant squirrel. The government is building the dam to fulfil Bengaluru’s ballooning water demand; it will destroy a unique wilderness as well as dampen the spirit of India’s spirited environmentalists and conservationists, whose relentless efforts to save the country’s green cover have been repeatedly dashed of late.
  • The fight to save India’s forests and valleys is more necessary than ever because officials are planning numerous projects related to dams, power generation and mines.
  • The Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary has a dry, deciduous forest. The riverine portion of the forest is home to the endemic grizzled giant squirrel. Right: Water birds like the oriental darter and the cormorant are found in abundance here. The sanctuary is also home to leopards, spotted deer, four-horned antelopes, sloth bears, honey badgers and porcupines. The Asian elephant is the largest mammal found here, and the Mekedatu dam will obstruct its migratory routes and could catalyse conflicts with villagers on the sanctuary’s periphery.

22) Green hydrogen Policy.

  • Government of India notified first phase of its Green Hydrogen Policy as a step forward towards National Hydrogen Mission. The mission aims to make India a green hydrogen hub and help to meet its climate targets. It targets production of five million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) of green hydrogen by 2030 and the related development of renewable energy capacity.
  • Hydrogen and ammonia are anticipated to be the future fuels, and production of these fuels using renewable energy is one of the major requirements towards sustainable energy security and reduction in fossil fuel import bills for the nation. Green hydrogen is generated by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen in an electrolyser using renewable energy. The hydrogen produced can be combined with nitrogen to make ammonia, avoiding hydrocarbons in the production process. Green ammonia is used to store energy and in fertiliser manufacturing.
  • India’s Green Hydrogen Policy announcement comes promptly, as the country pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2070 at the COP-26 summit in Glasgow last year. The quest towards energy security gains more significance at a time when the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis has raised energy costs across the world, pinching India in particular, which imports 85% of its oil and 53% of natural gas requirements.

Policy Attributes

The policy offers a range of incentives to lure investors to bet on the development of green hydrogen and green ammonia:

  • Green hydrogen / ammonia manufacturers may purchase renewable power from the power exchange or set up renewable energy capacity themselves or through any other developer, anywhere.
  • Open access will be granted within 15 days of receipt of application.
  • The green hydrogen / ammonia manufacturer can bank his unconsumed renewable power, up to 30 days, with distribution company and take it back when required.
  • Distribution licensees can also procure and supply renewable energy to the manufacturers of green hydrogen / green ammonia in their states at concessional prices, which will only include the cost of procurement, wheeling charges and a small margin as determined by the State Commission.
  • Waiver of inter-state transmission charges for a period of 25 years will be allowed to the manufacturers of green hydrogen and green ammonia for the projects commissioned before 30 June 2025.
  • The manufacturers of green hydrogen / ammonia and the renewable energy plant shall be given connectivity to the grid on priority basis to avoid any procedural delays.
  • The benefit of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) will be granted incentive to the hydrogen / ammonia manufacturer and the distribution licensee for consumption of renewable power.
  • To ensure ease of doing business, a single portal for carrying out all the activities, including statutory clearances in a time bound manner, will be set up by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
  • Connectivity, at the generation end and the green hydrogen / green ammonia manufacturing end, to the ISTS for renewable energy capacity set up for the purpose of manufacturing green hydrogen / green ammonia shall be granted on priority.
  • Manufacturers of green hydrogen / green ammonia shall be allowed to set up bunkers near ports for storage of green ammonia for export / use by shipping. The land for the storage for this purpose shall be provided by the respective Port Authorities at applicable charges.

Key Challenges  

  • India’s current hydrogen demand is around 6.7 million tonnes (MT) which is expected to approximately double by 2030. Oil refineries, fertiliser plants and steel units consume most of it as process fuel to produce finished products. Presently, it is grey hydrogen, which is produced from fossil fuels, such as natural gas or naphtha.
  • With the increased deployment of renewable power capacity, the price of renewable electricity has fallen sharply to make green hydrogen more feasible, but it is still expensive to compete with grey hydrogen. Incentives announced in the policy will help in lowering the cost of green hydrogen production, but it will remain the key challenge to make it as affordable as grey hydrogen which is four to six times cheaper currently.
  • The waiving of central open access charges will enable lower cost of production, however there are state level open access charges which can forfeit the intended incentives, therefore collaborative efforts are required to remove this disparity in charges and create beneficial impact of policy incentives.

A Positive Step Forward

  • The policy is an important first step to enable a hydrogen ecosystem. It has tried to address some of the key demands of the industry in terms of open access, grid banking and single window approval mechanism.
  • The policy aims to leverage the country’s landmass, increasing solar installations and decreasing renewable power generation costs to produce low-cost green hydrogen / ammonia for exports. Germany and Japan could be key markets for green hydrogen produced in India.
  • To support this transition from grey hydrogen to green hydrogen and to cater to growing hydrogen demand, India will have to invest continuously for innovation, R&D projects and demonstration projects to support commercialisation of upcoming technologies and accelerate cost reduction of green hydrogen production.
  • The power ministry has also said that energy plants set up to produce green hydrogen/ammonia would be given connectivity to the grid on a priority basis.
  • Power distribution companies may also procure renewable energy to supply green hydrogen producers but will be required to do so at a concessional rate which will only include the cost of procurement, wheeling charges and a small margin as determined by the state commission, under the new policy. Such procurement would also count towards a state’s Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) under which it is required to procure a certain proportion of its requirements from renewable energy sources.

What are the facilities to boost export of green hydrogen and ammonia?

  • Under the policy port authorities will also provide land at applicable charges to green hydrogen and green ammonia producers to set up bunkers near ports for storage prior to export. Power minster RK Singh has previously noted that Germany and Japan could be key markets for green hydrogen produced in India.
  • Net energy importers like Chile, in South America, and African countries such as Morocco and Namibiaare emerging as exporters of emissions-free green hydrogen. China. China is the leader of the global hydrogen market with an output of 20 million tons, accounting for ⅓ of global production. Sinopec aims to generate 500,000 tonnes of green hydrogen by 2025. In 2020, ten governments adopted hydrogen strategies: Canada, Chile, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain and the European Union (France had already adopted a Plan for Deploying Hydrogen for the Energy Transition in 2018).

23) Russia seizes Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

  • The attack comes as Moscow continues its full-scale invasion in Ukraine despite both sides concluding their second rounds of talks in Belarus to discuss military and humanitarian issues and a future political settlement of the ongoing conflict.
  • As Russia's offensive in Ukraine enters the ninth day, a fire at at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant- after an attack by Moscow - rang alarm bells across the world capitals on Friday. The Russian forces, Kyiv said, attacked the nuclear power plant - near power hub Energodar - that led to a huge fire. While the blaze led to a huge alarm worldwide, authorities confirmed that the fire was doused and there were no radiation leaks.
  • Hours later, however, it was confirmed that the Russian forces had seized the plant. The attack comes as Moscow continues its full-scale invasion in Ukraine despite both sides concluding their second rounds of talks in Belarus to discuss military and humanitarian issues and a future political settlement of the ongoing conflict.
  • Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe and the ninth-largest across the world.

24)ISMA revives upwards sugar output estimate.

  • India's sugar production estimate has been revised upward by 3% to 314.5 lakh tonnes for 2021-22 marketing year ending September as against the earlier forecast of 305 lakh tonnes, according to industry body ISMA.
  • Releasing its second advance estimates, Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said, "The country is expected to produce 314.50 lakh tonnes of sugar during 2021-22 season." Sugar marketing year runs from October to September. Sugar output stood at 311.8 lakh tonnes in the 2020-21 season.
  • "This is after considering an estimated diversion of sugar equivalent of 34 lakh tonnes for production of ethanol by means of diversion of sugarcane juice /syrup or B-heavy molasses," the association said in a statement.
  • Higher estimated sugar production this year is mainly due to increased cane area by about 11% and better cane yields and sugar recovery as compared to the last season.
  • "This is owing to favourable weather conditions as well as increase in percentage of ratoon cane, which helps in better recovery," ISMA said.
  • Based on the allocations made by the OMCs for supply of ethanol in 2021-22 so far and expected to be allocated in the current season, it is estimated that sugar mills in Maharashtra will divert about 11.27 lakh tonnes of sugar equivalent for production of ethanol in the current year, which is much higher as compared to about 7.12 lakh tonnes diverted in 2020-21.
  • Karnataka is expected to produce about 45.21 lakh tonnes of sugar in 2021-22 as against 44.68 lakh tonnes produced in 2020-21. Mills in the State are expected to divert about 7.37 lakh tonnes of sugar equivalent for ethanol production in the current year as compared to about 5.02 lakh tonne diverted in 2020-21.
  • Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA)
    Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) is a premier sugar organization in India. It is the interface between Government and sugar industry (both private and public sugar mills) in the country. The prime objective is to ensure that the functioning and interest of both the private and public sugar mills in the country are safeguarded through conducive and growth-oriented policies of the Government.
  • ISMA is the oldest industrial Association in the country which was established in 1932. India entered the sugar export market for the first time in the year 1957 which was entirely on the initiative of ISMA. Since then ISMA has been at the forefront of sugar export in the country, spearheading export initiatives for the industry.

25) Data Protection Bill.

What you mean by data?

  • In computing, data is information that has been translated into a form that is efficient for movement or processing. Relative to today's computers and transmission media, data is information converted into binary digital form. It is acceptable for data to be used as a singular subject or a plural subject.Data is defined as facts or figures, or information that's stored in or used by a computer. An example of data is information collected for a research paper. An example of data is an email. noun.

What is data protection?

  • Data protection is the process of safeguarding important data from corruption, compromise or loss and providing the capability to restore the data to a functional state should something happen to render the data inaccessible or unusable.
  • Data protection acts comes under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). While data can be put to beneficial use, the unregulated and arbitrary use of data, especially personal data, has raised concerns regarding the privacy and autonomy of an individual. This was also the subject matter of the landmark judgement of the Supreme Court, which recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right.
  • A firm legal framework for data protection will: I. Keep personal data of citizens secure and protected II. Act as the foundation on which data-driven innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish in India. IT Act 2008, Section 43 : Where a body corporate, possessing, dealing or handling any sensitive personal data or information in a computer resource which it owns, controls or operates, is negligent in implementing and maintaining reasonable security practices and procedures and thereby causes wrongful loss or wrongful gain to any person, such body corporate shall be liable to pay damages by way of compensation, to the person so affected.

EXPANDING SCOPE OF EXISTING DATA PROTECTION REGULATION

  • The upcoming Data protection regime will widen the scope by offering a comprehensive data protection framework which shall apply to processing of personal data by any means, and to processing activities carried out by both the Government as well as the private entities- not only Body Corporate.

KEY PRINCIPLES AROUND DATA PROTECTION IN INDIA

A data protection framework in India must be based on the following seven principles.

  • Technology agnosticism - The law must be technology agnostic. It must be flexible to take into account changing technologies and standards of compliance.
  • Holistic application - The law must apply to both private sector entities and government. Differential obligations may be carved out in the law for certain legitimate state aims
  • Informed consent - Consent is an expression of human autonomy. For such expression to be genuine, it must be informed and meaningful.
  • Data minimization -Data that is processed ought to be minimal and necessary for the purposes for which such data is sought and other compatible purposes
  • Controller accountability - The data controller shall be held accountable for any processing of data, whether by itself or entities with whom it may have shared the data
  • Structured enforcement - Enforcement must be by a high-powered statutory authority with sufficient capacity. This must coexist with appropriately decentralized enforcement mechanisms
  • Deterrent penalties - Penalties on wrongful processin g must be adequate to ensure deterrenc e

Why in news?

  • Data protection bill will significantly degrade India’s business environment & FDI inflows, say global industry bodies.
  • Implementation of the proposed Data Protection Bill, as recommended by a Parliamentary panel, will significantly degrade India’s business environment and reduce foreign investment inflows, a dozen global industry bodies have said in a joint letter to the government.
  • The industry associations have sought wider consultations with stakeholders before the bill is introduced in Parliament.
  • The US, Japan, Europe, Southeast Asia and India based industry bodies, including ITI, JEITA, TechUK, US India Business Council, and Business Europe, represent thousands of companies and technology majors like Google, Amazon, Cisco, Dell, SoftBank and Microsoft.
  • The letter, dated March 1, addressed to Union Communications and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, said the Parliamentary panel’s report includes novel recommendations for the personal data protection bill which, if enacted, would create powerful disincentives for India’s innovation ecosystem and the promise of a trillion-dollar digital economy.
  • The bodies have expressed concern on inclusion of non-personal data, restrictions on cross-border data transfers, data localisation obligations, mandatory hardware and AI software certifications.
  • The industry bodies said mandates for companies to locally store their data in India will degrade the privacy and cybersecurity protections by limiting state-of-the-art solutions that are globally available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)   State records 100% first dose coverage.

  • Three districts in Karnataka have achieved over 100 per cent first dose vaccine coverage. With 4.7 crore out of the 4.9 crore adult population vaccinated with the first dose, the state’s average coverage of the first dose of vaccination is 96 per cent.
  • It’s first large state with a population of more than 4 crore.
  • While Bengaluru urban has vaccinated 127 per cent of its eligible population, Gadag achieved 102 per cent, Vijaypura reached 101 per cent, and Kodagu and Bagakot covered 99 percent with the first dose.
  • Belgaum, Chikkaballapur, and Davanagere which have covered 98 percent of the eligible population with the first dose are the other districts to have inched closer to the 100 per cent coverage mark.

 Department of health and welfare ministry.

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfareis an Indian government ministry charged with health policy in India. It is also responsible for all government programs relating to family planning in India.The Minister of Health and Family Welfare holds cabinet rank as a member of the Council of Ministers.
  • Since 1955 the Ministry regularly publishes the Indian Pharmacopoeiathrough the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC), an autonomous body for setting standards for drugs, pharmaceuticals and healthcare devices and technologies in India
  • On August 7, 2014 vide extraordinaryGazette notification Part –II Section-3, Sub Section(ii) New Delhi Thursday August 7, 2014, Department of AIDS Control has been merged with Department of Health & Family Welfare and now be known as National AIDS Control Organization (NACO).
  • Department of AYUSH has been made Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) with focused attention on development of education and research in Ayurveda, Yoga & naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy systems. Now Ministry of Health and Family Welfare comprises the following two departments, each of which is headed by a Secretary to the Government of India.
  • Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) is attached office of the Department of Health & Family Welfare and has subordinate offices spread all over the country. The DGHS renders technical advice on all Medical and Public Health matters and is involved in the implementation of various Health Services.

 

 Department of Health Research under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare:

  • The President notified the creation of the Department of Health Research under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare through an amendment to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 on the 17th September 2007.
  • The Department of Health Research was formally launched on 5th October 2007 by the Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences in a function presided over by the Minister for Health & Family Welfare, in the presence, inter-alia, of the Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare.
  • The Department became functional from November 2008 with the appointment of first Secretary of the Department.
  • The aim of the DHR is to bring modern health technologies to the people through research and innovations related to diagnosis, treatment methods and vaccines for prevention; to translate them into products and processes and, in synergy with concerned organizations, introduce these innovations into public health system.

The following 10 functions (nine new functions, plus the function of administering the ICMR) have been allocated to the Department of Health Research:

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world

 

  1. Promotion and co-ordination of basic, applied and clinical research including clinical trials and operational research in areas related to medical, health, biomedical and medical profession and education through development of infrastructure, manpower and skills in cutting edge areas and management of related information thereto.
  2. Promote and provide guidance on research governance issues, including ethical issues in medical and health research.
  3. Inter-sectoral coordination and promotion of public- private – partnership in medical, biomedical and health research related areas.
  4. Advanced training in research areas concerning medicine and health, including grant of fellowships for such training in India and abroad.
  5. International co-operation in medical and health research, including work related to international conference in related areas in India and abroad.
  6. Technical support for dealing with epidemics and natural calamities.
  7. Investigation of outbreaks due to new and exotic agents and development of tools for prevention.
  8. Matters relating to scientific societies and associations, charitable and religious endowments in medicine and health research areas.
  9. Coordination between organization and institutes under the Central and State Governments in areas related to the subjects entrusted to the Department and for the promotion of special studies in medicine and health.
  10. Administering and monitoring of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

 

  • The Deptt. is headed by Secretary with two Joint Secretaries to assist in decision making. Four Deputy Secretaries and four Under Secretaries are posted in the Department as given in the Organisational Chart. The Programme Management and Implementation Unit is supervised by Programme Managers/Scientists.
  • The Deptt. invites proposals in health research field and after examination under due process of Technical Evaluation Committee’s recommendation & approval of Approval Committee, releases grants to the Institutions/Researchers. There is no direct delivery of service to the Public.
  • Grievances are assigned to a designated desk and are monitored by a Nodal officer. The Deptt. works in accordance with provisions made in the CCS Rules for specified purposes.
  • The Deptt. does not have any exclusive rules/regulations and its functions are regulated by CCS Rules and instructions issued by the Govt. from time to time. Posting and Transfer of staff is administered by the M/o H&FW.

 

2)   Government to fund creation of 75 NCC units in state.

  • The Karnataka Government will fund the creation of 75 units of National Cadet Corps (NCC) in educational institutions across the State to commemorate 75 years of Independence, Chief Minister as he relaunched the Government Flying Training School at Jakkur here.
  • The additional units will enable induction of additional 7,500 cadets to NCC in the State. 

 

 NCC

  • The National Cadet Corps(NCC) is the youth wing of the Indian Armed Forces with its headquarters in New Delhi, India. It is open to school and college students on voluntary basis as a Tri-Services Organisation, comprising the Armythe Navy and the Air Wing, engaged in developing the youth of the country into disciplined and patriotic citizens. 
  • The Emblem of NCC consist of 3 colours; Red, Dark Blue, Light Blue. These colours indicate Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Airforce respectively. The 17 Lotus indicates the 17 directories of India.

Motto and aim:

  • "The discussion for motto of NCC was started in 11th central advisory meeting (CAC) held on 11 August 1978. At that time there were many mottos in mind like "Duty and Discipline"; "Duty, Unity and Discipline"; "Duty and Unity"; "Unity and Discipline". Later, at the 12th CAC meeting on 12 Oct 1980 they selected and declared "Unity and Discipline" as motto for the NCC.

CAC-The Central Advisory Committee (CAC) for NCC has been constituted under Section 12 of the National Cadet Corp Act, 1948 for the purpose of advising the Government on matters connected with the policy and administration of NCC.

 

  • In living up to its motto, the NCC strives to be and is one of the greatest cohesive forces of the nation, bringing together the youth hailing from different parts of the country and molding them into united and disciplined citizens of the nation".
  • The NCC is headed by the Director General (DG), an officer of three-star rank. The DG is assisted by two Additional Director Generals (A and B) of two-star rank(major-general, rear-admiral or air vice-marshal). Five Brigadier level officers and other civil officials also assist him.

The organisational structure continues as follows:

  • Directorate – There are 17 Directorates located in the state capitals headed by an officer of the rank of a Maj Gen from the three Services.
  • Division / Regimental Corps – There are 3 such Specialised Corps located in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore respectively. They are independent of the state directorate and report to the HQ. These divisions form the support function of the regular NCC. Each is headed by a Senior Officer- an equivalent rank of (Lt.) General. Internal Affairs, Administration, Development and Research: Lt. Gen. [SUO] Arvind Shekhar (New Delhi).
  • Group – Depending upon the size of the state and growth of NCC in the states, Directorates have up to 14 Group Headquarters under them through which they exercise their command and control of the organisation in the state. Each group is headed by an officer of the rank of Brigadier or equivalent known as Group Commander.
  • Battalion- Each NCC Group Headquarters control 5–7 units (Bns) commanded by Colonel/Lt. Col or equivalent.
  • Company – Each Battalion consists of companies which are commanded by the Associate NCC Officer (ANO) of the rank of lieutenant to major.
  • In all there are 96 Group Headquarters in the country who exercise control over a network of 684 Army wing units (including technical and girls’ unit), 69 Naval wing units and 61 Air Squadrons. There are two training establishments namely Officers Training School, Kamptee (Nagpur, Maharashtra) and Women Officers Training School, Gwalior. Besides this Vice Chancellors of various universities across India are conferred with honorary rank of commandant in NCC, to promote and support NCC.

 

3)    Banglashree scheme in Bengal

What is Banglashree scheme?

Banglashree. This scheme is to extend fiscal incentives to encourage the entrepreneurs to set up MSME with a view to focusing on balanced development of MSME

MSME-

  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, a branch of the Government of India, is the apex executive body for the formulation and administration of rules, regulations and laws relating to micro, small and medium enterprises in India.
  • The Ministry of Small-Scale Industries and Agro and Rural Industries was created in October 1999. In September 2001, the ministry was split into the Ministry of Small Scale Industries and the Ministry of Agro and Rural Industries. The President of Indiaamended the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, under the notification dated 9 May 2007. Pursuant to this amendment, they were merged into a single ministry.
  • The ministry was tasked with the promotion of microand small enterprises. The Ministry deals with the khadi, village and coir industries through the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and the Coir Board.
  • It coordinates implementation of two countrywide employment generation programmes, namely, the Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP) and the Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) with the cooperation of State Governments, the Reserve Bank of India(RBI) and other banks.
  • The KVIC, established by an Act of Parliament, is a statutory organisation engaged in promotion and development of khadi and village industries for providing employment opportunities in the rural areas, thereby strengthening the rural economy.
  • The coir industry is a labor-intensive and export-oriented industry. It uses a by-product of coconut, namely, coir husk. The Coir Board, a statutory body established under the Coir Industry Act 1953, looks after the promotion, growth and development of the coir industry, including export promotion and expansion of the domestic market.

 

4)    Help from technology (LMS)

Why in news?

LMS by Department of Colligate Education/Department of Higher Education has helped students to study online.

 

LMS

  • learning management system(LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs.
  • The learning management system concept emerged directly from e-Learning. Learning management systems make up the largest segment of the learning system market. The first introduction of the LMS was in the late 1990s.
  • Learning management systems have faced a massive growth in usage due to the emphasis on remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of higher education

Ministry of Education.

The Ministry of Education (MOE), formerly the Ministry of Human Resource Development (1985–2020), is a ministry of the Government of India, responsible for the implementation of the National Policy on Education.

 The Ministry is further divided into two departments: The Department of School Education and Literacy, which deals with primary, secondary and higher secondary education, adult education and literacy, and the Department of Higher Education, which deals with university level education, technical education, scholarships, etc.

India had the Ministry of Education since 1947. In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi government changed its name to Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and with the public announcement of newly drafted "National Education Policy 2020" by the Narendra Modi government, Ministry of Human Resource Development was renamed back to Ministry of Education.

The main objectives of the Ministry are:

  • Formulating the National Policy on Education and to ensure that it is implemented in letter and spirit
  • Planned development, including expanding access and improving quality of the educational institutions throughout the country, including in regions where people do not have easy access to education.
  • Paying special attention to disadvantaged groups like the poor, females and the minorities
  • Provide financial help in the form of scholarships, loan subsidy, etc. to deserving students from deprived sections of the society.
  • Encouraging international cooperation in the field of education, including working closely with the UNESCO and foreign governments as well as Universities, to enhance the educational opportunities in the country.

 

5)    “Statue of Equality” gets final touch.

  • PM is all set to unveil the world’s second-largest statue in Hyderabad on February 5. The 216-foot-tall statue of 11nth-century social reformer and saint, Ramanujacharya will be in a sitting position.
  • It will be located at a 45-acre complex area on the outskirts of the city. Bhagavad Ramanujacharya has remained a true icon of equality for 1,000 years and this project will ensure his teachings are practiced for at least another 1,000 years."

What is statue of equality?

  • The world’s second tallest statuein a sitting position is made up of ‘Panchaloha’, meaning a combination of five metals i.e. gold, copper, silver, brass and zinc. The inner sanctorum deity of Sri Ramanujacharya is built of 120 kilos of gold. This commemorates the 120 years the saint spent on earth.
  • The project, worth Rs 1,000 crores is funded by donations from global devotees and its foundation stone was laid in 2014. The statue was built by Aerosun Corporation in Chinabefore being shipped to India. 
  • The events in celebration of the 1,000thbirth anniversary of the saint will be started from February 2. 

 

6)    INSACOG

INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics or Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium) is the forum set up under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare by the Government of India on 30 December 2020, to study and monitor genome sequencing and virus variation of circulating strains of COVID-19 in India. Initially it was tasked to study the virus variant Lineage B.1.1.7 earlier found in United Kingdom in December 2020.

 

 

7)    Archaeologist and Epigraphist Nagaswamy passes away at 92.

 

8)    Gujrat’s deep sea pipeline schemes remains nonstarter.

Pollution in rivers has gone beyond critical level in state.

  • Gujarat, the State government’s ambitious ₹2,300-crore sub-sea effluent disposal pipeline project remains a non-starter even as the pollution in the rivers has gone beyond critical level due to increasing industrialisation.
  • Pipeline network to carry industrial effluents directly into the deep sea to save Sabarmati, Mahisagar, Vishwamitra and Bhadar, which have become critically polluted due to unbated discharge of industrial effluents into them.
  • Initiative to build a 300 km effluent discharge infrastructure on public private partnership (PPP) basis.
  • Three pipeline routes were finalised: from Ahmedabad to the Gulf of Cambay of 350 million litre a day (MLD) capacity at ₹1,480 crore, Jetpur to Porbandar of 80MLD capacity.

 

9)    Peru declares environmental emergency declares following oil spill.

 

 

  • Peru declared an environmental emergency as an oil spill caused by freak waves from a volcanic eruption in the South Pacific keeps spreading.
  • The oil spill came out of a tanker belonging to the Spanish energy firm Repsol. The incident occurred at the La Pampilla refinery, some 30 kilometers (around 19 miles) north of the Peruvian capital of Lima in the Ventanilla district of the port city of Callao.
  • According to the refinery, the spill was caused by freak waves, which resulted from the eruption of a volcano in Tonga.
  • The Italian-flagged “Mare Doricum” tanker was transporting 965,000 barrels of crude oil when it was hit.

What damage has the spill caused?

  • The spill has caused the death of marine wildlife and raised concerns around the livelihood of local fishermen and the economic consequences from the loss of tourism.
  • Repsol said that 2,384 cubic meters (84,190 cubic feet) of sand had been affected by the spill. The company said that it had organized more than 1,350 people for the cleanup efforts, and planned to add another 224.

 

 

 

 

 

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