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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 09 October 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 09 October 2019


Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

  1. Satnami Rebellion.

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. WHO issues first World report on vision.
  2. Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI).

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Nobel Prize in Physics.
  2. Global Competitiveness Index.
  3. Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. Rafale Fighter Jet.
  2. Ganga Amantran Abhiyan.
  3. Saturn is the planet with the highest number of moons.
  4. Unrepresented tribes of Meghalaya.
  5. C40 Cities Climate Summit.

 


 

GS Paper 1:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

 

Satnami Rebellion

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Who are Satnamis? Why they revolted against Mughal Empire? Outcomes and significance.

 

Who are Satnamis?

  1. Originally, they were a militant sect of Hindu Worshippers.
  2. Founded by a saint named “Birbhan” in 1657 in Narnaul in Haryana.
  3. The major religious activity of this sect is to chant and meditate the true names (Sat-Nam) of God, specially Rama and Krishna.
  4. This sect is thought to be an offshoot of Ravidasi sect and comprised of lower strata of the Hindu society, particularly, leather workers, sweepers, carpenters, Goldsmiths etc.
  5. The followers of this sect kept their heads shaven (thus called Mundiyas) and abstained from liquor and meat.
  6. The religious granth of the Satnamis is called Pothi.

 

The revolt of 1862:

  1. In 1672, they rebelled against the mighty Mughal Empire.
  2. The revolt triggered when a Mughal soldier killed a Satnami. The Satnamis killed the soldier in revenge and in turn Mughal soldiers were sent.
  3. Satnamis attacked Narnaul, the main township in the area and destroyed the Mughal garrison. They even set up their own administration.
  4. Next, they marched towards Shahjahanabad (old Delhi), armed with the latest European-designed muskets that their leader had taught them to make.
  5. The rebellion was crushed when Aurangzeb himself took personal command and sent 10,000 troops with artillery to crush the Satnamis.

 

Other reasons for the revolt:

The killing of the youth may have been the immediate trigger, the reasons for the revolt were to do with the growth of the Satnami sect. The entrenched caste structure of the era forced marginalised groups to join the fold and they protested against the high taxation policies. Their rise was seen as a threat by the supporters of the Mughal administration, the upper castes.

 

Conclusion:

Though the Satnami rebellion was crushed, its memory endures to this day. That a group of marginalised people fought the systemic oppression in society, established a new community and defended it.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


 

GS Paper 2:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

 

WHO issues first World report on vision

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings and highlights of the study.

For Mains: Concerns and measures needed to overcome the challenges.

 

Context: WHO has launched it’s first World report on vision.

 

Key findings:

  • At least 2.2 billion people have vision impairment or blindness, of which over 1 billion cases could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed.
  • The burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally: it is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations. 
  • The unmet need of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions.
  • Low- and middle-income regions of western and eastern sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have rates of blindness that are eight times higher than in all high-income countries. Rates of cataract and trachomatous trichiasis are higher among women, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
  • US$14.3 billion is needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far sightedness, and cataracts.

 

Main causes of rising cases of vision impairment:

Ageing populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eye care, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are among the main drivers of the rising numbers of people living with vision impairment.

 

Other main drivers of the most common eye conditions include:

  1. Myopia (near-sightedness): Increased time spent indoors and increased “near work” activities are leading to more people suffering from myopia. Increased outdoor time can reduce this risk.
  2. Diabetic retinopathy: increasing numbers of people are living with diabetes, particularly Type 2, which can impact vision if not detected and treated. Nearly all people with diabetes will have some form of retinopathy in their lifetimes. Routine eye checks and good diabetes control can protect people’s vision from this condition.
  3. Late detection: Due to weak or poorly integrated eye care services, many people lack access to routine checks that can detect conditions and lead to the delivery of appropriate preventive care or treatment.

 

Way ahead:

  • Eye conditions and vision impairment are widespread, and far too often they still go untreated.
  • People who need eye care must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship.
  • Including eye care in national health plans and essential packages of care is an important part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage.

 

Sources: down to earth.


Topics covered:

  1. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of AEOI and CRS.

For Mains: need for and the significance of AEOI.

 

Context: In the first tranche of information, Switzerland has shared bank account details with the Indian government under the AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information) framework.

Not just India: The Federal tax administration (FDA) of Switzerland has exchanged account details information with 75 countries including India. This is the first time when Switzerland has shared financial details about the active and closed accounts during 2018 under the AEOI framework. 

 

Background:

AEOI Regime between Switzerland and India kicked off from September 1, 2019. Under this mechanism, India will start receiving information on all financial accounts held by Indian residents in Switzerland, for the year 2018.

 

What does this mean for India, and how will the exchange of information be governed?

  • The step is likely to shed more light on the wealth Indians have stashed away in Swiss bank accounts, for so long governed by strict local rules of secrecy.
  • In 2018, data from Zurich-based Swiss National Bank (SNB) had shown that after declining for three years, money parked by Indians in Swiss Banks rose 50 per cent to CHF (Swiss Franc) 1.02 billion (Rs 7,000 crore) in 2017 over the previous year.

 

What is AEOI?

Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) is systematic and periodic transmission of “bulk” taxpayer information by the source country to the residence country, which is possible under most of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) and Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAC).

It aims to reduce global tax evasion

It is to be carried out under Common Reporting Standard (CRS) of OECD.

AEOI is the exchange of information between countries without having to request it.

 

Need for AEOI:

  1. Tax payers operate cross border whereas tax administration is limited to national borders. This has helped tax evasion by shifting money to other countries by citizens. Both tax evasion and tax avoidance have escalated; facilitated by quick transfer of income from one country to another.
  2. Vast amounts of money are kept offshore and go untaxed to the extent that taxpayers fail to comply with tax obligations in their home jurisdictions.
  3. Tackling this cross-national transfer of money to avoid and evade taxes indicate that national efforts are not enough to fight black money. Hence there is the need for tax cooperation and tax information exchanges between countries.

 

Significance and benefits of AEOI:

  • Enables the discovery of formerly undetected tax evasion.  
  • Enable governments to recover tax revenue lost to non-compliant taxpayers.
  • It will further strengthen international efforts to increase transparency, cooperation, and accountability among financial institutions and tax administrations.
  • Generate secondary benefits by increasing voluntary disclosures of concealed assets and by encouraging taxpayers to report all relevant information.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


 

GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Nobel Prize in Physics

 

Context: Three scientists- Canadian-American cosmologist James Peebles and Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz- have jointly been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in physics for encouraging the growth of the “understanding of our place in the Universe”.

 

Details:

  1. Peebles findings:

He won one-half of the prize” for theoretical discoveries that have contributed to our understanding of “how the Universe evolved after the Big Bang“.

Using theoretical tools and calculations, he drew a link between the temperature of the radiation emitted after the Big Bang and the amount of matter it created.

His work showed that the matter known to us — such as stars, planets, and ourselves — only makes up five percent, while the other 95 percent is made up of “unknown dark matter and dark energy”.

 

 

  1. Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz:

They shared the prize for their discovery of an exoplanet outside our solar system orbiting a solar-type star in the Milky Way.

They were able to detect a gaseous ball similar in size to Jupiter, orbiting a star 50 light years from our own Sun.

Harnessing the Doppler effect, the pair proved the planet, known as 51 Pegasus b, was orbiting its star.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Global Competitiveness Index

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Performance of India and other countries.

For Mains: Challenges and concerns for India, ways to address them.

 

Context: GCI 2019 has been released.

  • The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), which was launched in 1979, maps the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organised into 12 pillars.
  • The pillars, which cover broad socio-economic elements are: institutions, infrastructure, ICT adoption, macroeconomic stability, health, skills, product market, labour market, the financial system, market size, business dynamism and innovation capability.

 

Performance of India:

  • Compared to last year, India has moved down 10 places to rank 68th. India was ranked 58th last year.
  • It is among the worst-performing BRICS nations along with Brazil (ranked even lower than India at 71st this year). 
  • India ranks high in terms of macroeconomic stability and market size, while its financial sector is relatively deep and stable despite the high delinquency rate, which contributes to weakening the soundness of its banking system. 
  • In innovation, India is well ahead of most emerging economies and on par with several advanced economies.

 

Concerns and way ahead for India:

  • Major shortcomings: limited ICT (information, communications and technology) adoption, poor health conditions and low healthy life expectancy. 
  • The healthy life expectancy, where India has been ranked 109th out of total the 141 countries surveyed for the index, is one of the shortest outside Africa and significantly below the South Asian average.
  • With a ratio of female workers to male workers of 0.26, India has been ranked very low at 128th place.

 

Way ahead for India:
Now, India needs to grow its skills base, while its product market efficiency is undermined by a lack of trade openness and the labour market is characterised by a lack of worker rights’ protections, insufficiently developed active labour market policies and critically low participation of women.

 

Performance of other countries:

  • Asia-Pacific is the most competitive region in the world, followed closely by Europe and North America.
  • The United States may have lost out to Singapore overall, but it remains an innovation powerhouse.
  • Nordic countries are among the world’s most technologically advanced, innovative and dynamic while also providing better living conditions and social protection.

 

Global concerns- key observations made by the report:

  1. The world is at a social, environmental and economic tipping point.
  2. Subdued growth, rising inequalities and accelerating climate change provide the context for a backlash against capitalism, globalization, technology, and elites.
  3. There is gridlock in the international governance system and escalating trade and geopolitical tensions are fuelling uncertainty.
  4. This holds back investment and increases the risk of supply shocks: disruptions to global supply chains, sudden price spikes or interruptions in the availability of key resources.
  5. Ten years on from the global financial crisis, the world economy remains locked in a cycle of low or flat productivity growth despite the injection of more than $10 trillion by central banks.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation related issues.

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: GRAP- features, need for and significance.

 

Context: Soon, some stricter measures to fight air pollution will come into force in Delhi’s neighbourhood, as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

 

As per the plan:

Measures aimed at stopping the use of diesel generator sets will extend beyond Delhi to the NCR, where many areas see regular power cuts.

Measures will be incremental. As pollution rises, and it is expected to as winter approaches, more measures will come into play depending on the air quality.

 

What is GRAP?

Approved by the Supreme Court in 2016.

It works only as an emergency measure.

As such, the plan does not include action by various state governments to be taken throughout the year to tackle industrial, vehicular and combustion emissions.

When the air quality shifts from poor to very poor, the measures listed have to be followed since the plan is incremental in nature.

 

Has it been helpful?

  1. It has created a step-by-step plan for the entire Delhi-NCR region and getting on board several agencies including pollution control boards, industrial area authorities, municipal corporations, regional officials of the India Meteorological Department, and others.
  2. It has been successful in fixing accountability and deadlines. For each action to be taken under a particular air quality category, executing agencies are clearly marked.
  3. Coordination among as many as 13 agencies from four states is simplified to a degree because of the clear demarcation of responsibilities.
  4. Three major policy decisions that can be credited to EPCA and GRAP are the closure of the thermal power plant at Badarpur, bringing BS-VI fuel to Delhi before the deadline set initially, and the ban on Pet coke as a fuel in Delhi NCR.

 

Overview of the plan:

  1. The plan requires action and coordination among 13 different agencies in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan (NCR areas).
  2. At the head of the table is the EPCA, mandated by the Supreme Court.
  3. Before the imposition of any measures, EPCA holds a meeting with representatives from all NCR states, and a call is taken on which actions has to be made applicable in which town.

 

Measures announced:

Severe+ or Emergency- (PM 2.5 over 300 µg/cubic metre or PM10 over 500 µg/cu. m. for 48+ hours):

  1. Stop entry of trucks into Delhi (except essential commodities).
  2. Stop construction work.
  3. Introduce odd/even scheme for private vehicles and minimise exemptions.
  4. Task Force to decide any additional steps including shutting of schools.

 

Severe- (PM 2.5 over 250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 over 430 µg/cu. m.):

  1. Close brick kilns, hot mix plants, stone crushers.
  2. Maximise power generation from natural gas to reduce generation from coal.
  3. Encourage public transport, with differential rates.
  4. More frequent mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water.

 

Very Poor- (PM2.5 121-250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 351-430 µg/cu. m.):

  1. Stop use of diesel generator sets.
  2. Enhance parking fee by 3-4 times.
  3. Increase bus and Metro services.
  4. Apartment owners to discourage burning fires in winter by providing electric heaters during winter.
  5. Advisories to people with respiratory and cardiac conditions to restrict outdoor movement.

 

Moderate to poor- (PM2.5 61-120 µg/cu. m. or PM10 101-350 µg/cu. m.):

  1. Heavy fines for garbage burning.
  2. Close/enforce pollution control regulations in brick kilns and industries.
  3. Mechanised sweeping on roads with heavy traffic and water sprinkling.
  4. Strictly enforce ban on firecrackers.

 

Way ahead:

One criticism of the EPCA as well as GRAP has been the focus on Delhi. While other states have managed to delay several measures, citing lack of resources, Delhi has always been the first one to have stringent measures enforced.

For GRAP as well as EPCA, the next challenge is to extend the measures to other states effectively.

 

Sources: Indian Express.

 


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Rafale Fighter Jet:

Context: First of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets Delivered to India by France.

Key facts:

  • Rafale is a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
  • Rafale is a French word meaning “gust of wind”.
  • It is a French-origin Delta winged, twin-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured and designed by Dassault Aviation.
  • The Rafale is 15.27 metre long and a wingspan of 10.80 metre. The empty weight of Rafale ranges from 9900 kg to 10600 kg depending on the variant and maximum take-off weight of 24500 kg.
  • The engines push the Rafale to attain a high speed of 1.8 Mach (1912 kmph) and a range of more than 3700 km with 3 drop tanks.

 

Ganga Amantran Abhiyan:

  • It is a month-long exploratory open-water rafting and kayaking expedition, covering nearly 2,500 kilometers from Devprayag in Uttarakhand to Ganga Sagar in West Bengal.
  • This is the first ever effort by the National Mission for Clean Ganga to raft across the entire stretch of the river and also the longest ever social campaign undertaken through an adventure sporting activity to spread the message of river rejuvenation and water conservation on a massive scale.
  • The expedition will draw attention to the ecological challenges being faced by the Ganga.
  • It will cover the five Ganga basin states, namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal with stops at Rishikesh, Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Sonepur and Kolkata.

 

Saturn is the planet with the highest number of moons:

Recently the discovery of 20 new moons of Saturn has made Saturn the planet with the highest number of moons (82) .

  • The previous record- holder, Jupiter, has 79.
  • This was announced by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.
  • Of Saturn’s 20 newfound moons, 17 are retrograde, meaning they orbit in the opposite direction that Saturn rotates. Three orbit in the same direction that Saturn spins. Two of those prograde moons orbit fairly close to the planet while one oddball is farther out.

Unrepresented tribes of Meghalaya:

Context: Government of Meghalaya has decided to exclude ‘unrepresented tribes’ from the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

Who are they? The five minor tribes namely, Bodo-Kachari, Hajong, Koch, Mann, and Rabha are clubbed together as ‘unrepresented tribes’ for nomination in Meghalaya’s autonomous tribal councils. They are indigenous to Meghalaya.

 

C40 Cities Climate Summit:

Context: C40 Cities World Mayors Summit is being held in Copenhagen.

Key facts:

  • C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.
  • The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is a group of 94 cities around the world.
  • C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens.
  • Composition: While C40 originally targeted megacities for their greater capacity to address climate change, C40 now offers three types of membership categories to reflect the diversity of cities taking action to address climate change, i.e, Megacities, Innovator cities and Observer cities.
  • Criteria: The categories consider such characteristics as population size, economic output, environmental leadership, and the length of a city’s membership.