Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 28 June 2019
Relevant articles from PIB:
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For prelims: All about G20, composition, objectives and significance.
For mains: Significance, composition, issues associated and need for revamping the grouping.
Context: World leaders from 19 countries – and the European Union – are meeting in Osaka, Japan for latest edition of G20 summit.
What is the G20?
The G20 is an annual meeting of leaders from the countries with the largest and fastest-growing economies. Its members account for 85% of the world’s GDP, and two-thirds of its population.
The G20 Summit is formally known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy”.
After the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998, it was acknowledged that the participation of major emerging market countries is needed on discussions on the international financial system, and G7 finance ministers agreed to establish the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in 1999.
The group has no permanent staff of its own, so every year in December, a G20 country from a rotating region takes on the presidency.
That country is then responsible for organising the next summit, as well as smaller meetings for the coming year.
They can also choose to invite non-member countries along as guests. The first G20 meeting took place in Berlin in 1999, after a financial crisis in East Asia affected many countries around the world.
Who attends these meetings?
At first, the G20 was mostly attended by finance ministers and central bank governors.
That changed after the global financial crisis in 2008. With banks collapsing, unemployment rising and wages stagnating, the organisation turned into an emergency council for presidents and prime ministers.
Full membership of the G20: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.
Its relevance in changing times:
As globalization progresses and various issues become more intricately intertwined, the recent G20 summits have focused not only on macroeconomy and trade, but also on a wide range of global issues which have an immense impact on the global economy, such as development, climate change and energy, health, counter-terrorism, as well as migration and refugees.
The G20 has sought to realize an inclusive and sustainable world through its contributions towards resolving these global issues.
Facts for prelims:
A Sherpa is a personal representative of the leader of a member country at an international Summit meeting such as the G8, G20 or the Nuclear Security Summit and are responsible for thrashing out the details before the meeting of the leaders.
Mains Question: Do you think the G20 and its summits are just talking shops for powerful world leaders? Discuss its role in the time of economic crises.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
What to study?
For prelims: key features, objectives and coverage of the act.
For mains: significance, issues present with the legislation and ways to address them.
Context: The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan met State Food Secretaries and State government officials along with officials of Food Corporation of India (FCI), Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and State Warehousing Corporations (SWCs)in New Delhi. Shri Paswan discussed various issues pertaining to efficient implementation of national food security act.
National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013:
As passed by the Parliament, Government has notified the National Food Security Act, 2013 on 10th September, 2013.
The objective is to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.
- The Act provides for coverage of upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
- The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 Kgs of foodgrains per person per month at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.
- The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 Kgs of foodgrains per household per month.
- The Act also has a special focus on the nutritional support to women and children. Besides meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, such women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.
- Children upto 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards.
- In case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance.
- The Act also contains provisions for setting up of grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels.
- Separate provisions have also been made in the Act for ensuring transparency and accountability.
Ways to increase the efficiency:
- Use of Information Technology right from the time of purchase of food grains till its distribution will help in increasing the overall efficiency of the entire process, while maintaining transparency and curbing corruption.
- It is imperative that there is a seamless flow of information online between the FCI and States and therefore they need to be integrated so that exact information about how much food grain has been procured from which mandi, which warehouse it is stored in and for how long and when it has been released for distribution can be available.
- There should also be information about the quality of food grains at the time of purchase, storage conditions in the warehouse, when it is given to PDS shops and when the shops have distributed it to the beneficiaries.
- Move towards One Nation One Ration Card (RC) which will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice. This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.
- Expand the coverage of Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS) to all the states.
Why ensure food security?
The basic concept of food security globally is to ensure that all people, at all times, should get access to the basic food for their active and healthy life and is characterized by availability, access, utilization and stability of food. Though the Indian Constitution does not have any explicit provision regarding right to food, the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution may be interpreted to include right to live with human dignity, which may include the right to food and other basic necessities.
Mains Question: Is there any improvement in public distribution system since the implementation of reforms enacted by the National Food Security Act 2013? Critically discuss.
- Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
What to study?
For Prelims: Key features of Electoral Bonds and highlights of the scheme.
For Mains: Significance of the scheme, benefits and concerns associated.
Context: State Bank of India (SBI) has been authorized to issue and encash Electoral Bonds through its 29 Authorized Branches.
About Electoral bonds:
What are electoral bonds? Electoral bonds will allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary.
Key features: Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest. The electoral bond, which will be a bearer instrument, will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.
Eligibility: As per provisions of the Scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a citizen of India, or entities incorporated or established in India. A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals. Only the registered Political Parties which have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha elections or the State Legislative Assembly are eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.
Need: The electoral bonds are aimed at rooting out the current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to the generation of black money in the economy.
How will the Bonds help?
- The previous system of cash donations from anonymous sources is wholly non-transparent. The donor, the donee, the quantum of donations and the nature of expenditure are all undisclosed.
- According to government the system of Bonds will encourage political donations of clean money from individuals, companies, HUF, religious groups, charities, etc. After purchasing the bonds, these entities can hand them to political parties of their choice, which must redeem them within the prescribed time.
- Some element of transparency would be introduced in as much as all donors declare in their accounts the amount of bonds that they have purchased and all parties declare the quantum of bonds that they have received.
Mains Question: Critically examine the effectiveness of electoral bonds in ensuring transparent political funding and suggest alternatives?
- Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
What to study?
For Prelims: AIM, ATL and their important features.
For Mains: Various initiatives to promote innovation and their significance.
Context: 8878 schools have been selected for establishing Atal Tinkering Lab (ATLs) to promote research and innovation in schools.
What are ATLs?
With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.
Objective: The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.
Financial Support: AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.
Eligibility: Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society can set up ATL.
Significance of ATLs:
Atal Tinkering Labs have evolved as epicenters for imparting these ‘skills of the future’ through practical applications based on self-learning.
Bridging a crucial social divide, Atal Tinkering Labs provide equal opportunity to all children across the spectrum by working at the grassroot level, introducing children to the world of innovation and tinkering.
The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is the Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
AIM is mandated to create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country and revolutionizing the innovation eco-system – touching upon the entire innovation life cycle through various programs.
- Biotechnology related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims: What is food fortification, FSSAI.
For Mains: Food fortification and food security.
Context: Department of Food & Public Distribution has approved the “Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System”. Financial Assistance up to 90% in case of North-Eastern, Hilly and Island States and up to 75% in case of rest of the States has been extended.
What is Rice Fortification?
Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health. Rice fortification is the practice of increasing the content of essential micronutrients in rice and to improve the nutritional quality of the rice.
Why Rice Fortification?
Rice is the world’s most important staple food. An estimated 2 billion people eat rice every day, forming the mainstay of diets across large of Asia and Africa.
Regular milled rice is low in micronutrients and serves primarily as a source of carbohydrate only. The fortification of rice is a major opportunity to improve nutrition.
Fortified rice are contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc.
Food fortification in India:
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods namely ‘Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016’. These regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods. The regulations also provide for specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory. This sets the premise for the national summit on fortification of food.
Relevant articles from various news sources:
- Conservation related issues.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: key features, significance and the need for Jal Shakti Abhigyan.
Context: The Centre is set to initiate the Jal Shakti Abhiyan to ramp up rainwater harvesting and conservation efforts in 255 water-stressed districts from July 1, in line with the government’s promise to focus on water.
- The campaign would be coordinated by 255 central IAS officers of Joint or Additional Secretary-rank.
- Coverage: The campaign would run from July 1 to September 15 in States receiving rainfall during the south-west monsoon, while States receiving rainfall in the retreating or north-east monsoon would be covered from October 1 to November 30. Overall, 313 blocks with critical groundwater levels would be covered, along with 1,186 blocks with over-exploited groundwater and 94 blocks with low groundwater availability.
- Aim: to accelerate water harvesting, conservation and borewell recharge activities already being carried out under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme and the Integrated Watershed Management Programme of the Rural Development Ministry, along with existing water body restoration and afforestation schemes being undertaken by the Jal Shakti and Environment Ministries.
- Block and district-level water conservation plans would be drafted, and Kisan Vigyan Kendras would hold melas to promote better crop choices and more efficient water use for irrigation.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: ISTA- composition, objectives, roles, functions and significance.
Context: The International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) is to hold its 32nd Congress in Hyderabad.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and the Telangana government are jointly hosting the conference, which will be attended by stakeholders from across the globe.
- Founded in 1924, with the aim to develop and publish standard procedures in the field of seed testing, ISTA is inextricably linked with the history of seed testing.
- It is an association of laboratories which are authorised to check on the marketability of seed as defined in various countries’ laws.
- Its duties include defining methods to determine the ability to germinate, the vigour of seed, and the content of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in seed.
- The test results, as certified by ISTA member laboratories, are accepted by the trading partners of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in international seed traffic.
- The North American equivalent of the ISTA is the Association of Official Seed Analysts(AOSA).
Sources: the Hindu.
- Population and associated issues.
Context: In a bid to cultivate, promote and enhance opportunities on business, academic and cultural fronts between Kobe in Japan and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India, a sister-city agreement has been inked between the two cities.
This agreement will formalize the relationship between the two cities, both of which are unique in their own ways. While Kobe is the Creative Design City of Asia, Ahmedabad is India’s first World Heritage City.
After the agreement, a plan will be laid out on creating more opportunities for cooperation between the two cities on the academic, cultural as well as business fronts.
Kobe is located in the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan.
PM Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe have also inked a sister-state agreement for Gujarat and Hyogo Prefecture.
- Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
Context: A statue of Ranjit Singh, who ruled Punjab for almost four decades (1801-39), was recently inaugurated in Lahore.
- Ranjit Singh was born on November 13, 1780 in Gujranwala, now in Pakistan. At that time, Punjab was ruled by powerful chieftains who had divided the territory into Misls. Ranjit Singh overthrew the warring Misls and established a unified Sikh empire after he conquered Lahore in 1799.
- He was given the title Lion of Punjab (Sher-e-Punjab) because he stemmed the tide of Afghan invaders in Lahore, which remained his capital until his death.
- His general Hari Singh Nalwa built the Fort of Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, the route the foreign rulers took to invade India.
- At the time of his death, he was the only sovereign leader left in India, all others having come under the control of the East India Company in some way or the other.
- He also employed a large number of European officers, especially French, to train his troops. He appointed French General Jean Franquis Allard to modernise his army. In 2016, the town of St Tropez unveiled the maharaja’s bronze statue as a mark of respect.
- Ranjit Singh’s trans-regional empire spread over several states. His empire included the former Mughal provinces of Lahore and Multan besides part of Kabul and the entire Peshawar. The boundaries of his state went up to Ladakh — Zorawar Singh, a general from Jammu, had conquered Ladakh in Ranjit Singh’s name — in the northeast, Khyber pass in the northwest, and up to Panjnad in the south where the five rivers of Punjab fell into the Indus.
- During his regime, Punjab was a land of six rivers, the sixth being the Indus.
- The maharaja was known for his just and secular rule; both Hindus and Muslims were given powerful positions in his darbar.
- He turned Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar into the Golden Temple by covering it with gold.
- He is also credited with funding Hazoor Sahib gurudwara at the final resting place of Guru Gobind Singh in Nanded, Maharashtra.
Sources: Indian Express.
Facts for Prelims:
“TrackChild” and “Khoya-Paya” web portals:
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has developed web portals “TrackChild” and “Khoya-Paya” to track the missing and found children.
The TrackChild Portal is implemented in association with various stakeholders including Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Railways, State Governments/UT Administrations, Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards and National Legal Services Authority.
The “Khoya-Paya” has been integrated as a citizen corner on TrackChild portal.
Centre for Inland and Coastal Maritime Technology (CICMT):
As per a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA), signed between the Union Ministry of Shipping and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, the Centre for Inland and Coastal Maritime Technology (CICMT) will be set up at IIT Kharagpur.
CICMT will be a state-of-the-art centre which will be set up under the flagship Sagarmala Programme.
CICMT will focus on ship design for coastal as well as inland waterways, shipbuilding technology & structural design, cryogenic cargo handling, transport systems & logistics, renewable energy harvesting from coastal and inland waters and artificial intelligence (AI) and automation for maritime operations.
Context: Rahimatpur police station in Satara district in western Maharashtra has emerged as the State topper in a survey based on the ‘SMART’ policing concept announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Kalu police station in Rajasthan’s Bikaner came first rank in the country for having recreational facilities for police personnel, and a helpdesk for women besides being equipped with wi-fi servers.
Background: Mr. Modi had first called for making the police force ‘SMART’ — strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsive, techno-savvy and trained — while addressing the 49th annual conference of Directors-General and Inspectors-General of Police in Guwahati in 2014.
Parameters: The Quality Council of India (QCI), which executed the survey, assessed 87 shortlisted police stations across the country on a number of parameters like performance in controlling crime, infrastructure of the police building, mess and optimal use of technology, and citizen feedback.
The other vital parameters included approachability and discipline of the police personnel, storage of manual records in the police station as well as the station head officer’s (SHO’s) declaration of the budgetary process.