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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 25 April 2020

Table of Contents:

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

GS Paper 1:

1. Ambubachi Mela.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019.

2. World Malaria Day.

3. WB Commodity Markets Outlook.

4. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Operation Twist.

2. Swamitva Yojana to boost rural economy.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Panchayati Raj Diwas.

2. Anthurium. 

3. e-GramSwaraj Portal and Mobile App.

4. Devanahalli Pomelo.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Ambubachi Mela

What to study?

For Prelims: Ambubachi festival and Nilachal Hills.

For Mains: Significance and the role of festival in promoting awareness on menstrual hygiene.

Context: In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the annual Ambubachi Mela of Assam has been cancelled this year.

About Ambubachi Mela:

  • The festival symbolises the fertility cult of goddess Kamakhya.
  • There is no idol in the temple, the goddess is worshipped in the form of a yoni-like stone over which a natural spring flows.
  • Also known as Siddha Kubjika, the goddess is a Hindu tantric goddess of desire who evolved in the Himalayan hills. She is also identified as Kali and Maha Tripura.
  • The festival is also known as ‘Mahakumbh of the East’ as it draws lakhs of devotees from all over the world.

Social significance of the festival:

The ritualistic fair celebrating the goddess’ period is one of the reasons why the taboo associated with menstruation is less in Assam compared with other parts of India. The attainment of womanhood of girls in Assam is celebrated with a ritual called ‘Tuloni Biya’, meaning small wedding. Ambubachi Mela serves as an occasion to promote awareness on menstrual hygiene.

Facts for Prelims:

Kamakhya, atop Nilachal Hills in Guwahati, is one of 51 shaktipeeths or seat of Shakti followers, each representing a body part of the Sati, Lord Shiva’s companion.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Where are Nilachal hills located?
  2. Location of Shaktipeetas.
  3. What is tuloni biya?
  4. What is Mahakumbh Mela?
  5. Division of Himalayas.

Mains Link:

Discuss the cultural and social significance of Ambubachi mela.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019

What to study?

For Prelims: The labour code- key features.

For Mains: Need for and significance of the code.

Context: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour has made suggestions to the Industrial Relations Code.

The code proposes to amalgamate The Trade Unions Act, 1926, The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, and The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

Key suggestions made:

  1. Centre should create a formal and conducive industrial relations system by strengthening the various provisions in the Code.
  2. In case of natural calamities, payment of wages to the workers until the re-establishment of the industry may be unjustifiable. The law has to be reasonable, in such cases it is for the government to step in and extend a helping hand for the industries.
  3. A separate and an exclusive chapter should be created for outlining the rights of both the employee and the employer containing the principles pertaining to the industrial relations based on the ILO conventions.
  4. Union Labour Ministry should include scheme workers like Anganwadi, Asha, Mid-day Meal, etc, in the definition of worker on the ground that this is as per the existing provision for the formation of a Trade Union.
  5. The Government should give a consolidated and merged definition of worker/employee so that supervisors, managers, etc. could find a place therein.

Need of the hour:

Governance of the industrial relations system is simply not about framing good laws but also designing adequate and effective mechanism for their efficient implementation. Therefore, it becomes imperative on the part of the Government to strive for creating a formal and conducive industrial relations system, by strengthening the various provisions in the Code, so as to do away with the ambiguities and uncertainties, which would result in aiding economic progress, employment generation and labour welfare.

Overview of the Bill:

  1. Seeks to allow companies to hire workers on fixed-term contract of any duration.
  2. Has retained the threshold on the worker count at 100 for prior government approval before retrenchment, but it has a provision for changing ‘such number of employees’ through notification.
  3. Provides setting up of a two-member tribunal (in place of one member)wherein important cases will be adjudicated jointly and the rest by a single member, resulting speedier disposal of cases.
  4. Has vested powers with the government officers for adjudication of disputes involving penalty as fines.
  5. Introduces a feature of ‘recognition of negotiating union’ under which a trade union will be recognized as sole ‘negotiating union’ if it has the support of 75% or more of the workers on the rolls of an establishment.
  6. Under the code, termination of service of a worker on completion of tenure in a fixed-term employment will not be considered as retrenchment.
  7. Proposes setting up of a “re-skilling fund” for training of retrenched employees. The retrenched employee would be paid 15 days’ wages from the fund within 45 days of retrenchment.

Significance:

The Indian economy grew at 5% in the June quarter, a six-year low, while the country’s factory output shrank for the second straight month at 4.3% in September, recording its worst show since the present series was launched in April 2012.

The ease of compliance of labour laws will promote the setting up of more enterprises, thus catalysing the creation of employment opportunities in the country.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

Key provisions in the bill.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

World Malaria Day

What to study?

For Prelims: Malaria- causes, symptoms and treatment, schemes in this regard.

For Mains: Concerns regarding malaria worldwide, need for unified approach.

Context: World Malaria Day 2020 is being celebrated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on April 25 with the theme ‘Zero malaria starts with me’.

World Malaria Day was established on April 25 in 2007 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, WHO’s decision-making body.

About Malaria:

Caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans.

Spread: Female Anophelesmosquitoes deposit parasite sporozoites into the skin of a human host.

Four kinds of malaria parasites infect humans:

Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae. In addition, P. knowlesi, a type of malaria that naturally infects macaques in Southeast Asia, also infects humans, causing malaria that is transmitted from animal to human (“zoonotic” malaria).

Numbers:

Malaria is a leading cause of human morbidity and mortality. Despite huge progress in tackling the disease, there are still 212 million new cases of malaria and 430,000 malaria-related deaths worldwide each year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Most cases (80%) and deaths (90%) were in sub-Saharan African.

India’s efforts in this regard:

India’s progress in fighting malaria is an outcome of concerted efforts to ensure that its malaria programme is country-owned and country-led, even as it is in alignment with globally accepted strategies.

At the East Asia Summit in 2015, India pledged to eliminate the disease by 2030. Following this public declaration, India launched the five-year National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination. This marked a shift in focus from malaria “control” to “elimination”. The plan provides a roadmap to achieve the target of ending malaria in 571 districts out of India’s 678 districts by 2022.

Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakaran (DAMaN) initiative:

  • Among states, Odisha’s Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakaran (DAMaN)initiative is significant.
  • The initiative aims to deliver services to the most inaccessible and hardest hit people of the State. The initiative has in-built innovative strategies to combat asymptomatic malaria.
  • The programme is jointly implemented by Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Malaria Research (ICMR-NIMR), National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), Odisha and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).

 Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Difference and examples of various diseases caused by Virus and Bacteria.
  2. Malaria- causes and treatment.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

WB Commodity Markets Outlook

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key findings, concerns and measures to address these concerns.

Context: World Bank’s April 2020 Commodity Markets Outlook has been released.

Commodity Markets Outlook provides market analysis for major commodity groups — energy, metals, agriculture, precious metals, and fertilizers.

The report forecasts prices for 46 key commodities, including oil. It is published in April and October.

Key observations:

  1. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted both demand for and supply of commodities: direct effects from shutdowns and disruptions to supply chains, indirect effects as economic growth stalls.
  2. Effects have already been dramatic, particularly for commodities related to transportation.
  3. Oil prices have plunged and demand is expected to fall by an unprecedented amount in 2020.
  4. While most food markets are well supplied, concerns about food security have risen as countries announce trade restrictions and engage in excess buying.
  5. The halt in economic activity has taken a toll on industrial commodities such as copper and zinc, and metal prices overall are expected to fall this year.
  6. Commodity-dependent emerging market and developing economies will be among the most vulnerable to the economic impacts of the pandemic.

What next?

  1. Importers and exporters of commodities are likely to see some long-term shifts in their markets due to the pandemic.
  2. These include increasing transport costs due to enhanced border checks, unwinding supply chains (companies might prefer to source from closer by for instance), substituting for imports with domestic goods as transport costs rise and changing consumer behaviour.
  3. The break in emissions caused by the restrictions may also increase public pressure for greener transport and lowered fossil fuel use.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Important reports released by WB.
  2. WB- composition and funding.
  3. Voting and membership in WB.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

What to study?

For Prelims: All about UNCTAD, suggestions made.

For Mains: Concerns expressed and significance of the suggestions made.

Context: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released its latest Trade and Development Report.

 Present global scenario:

  • This is necessary because of the hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Developing countries may see their public external debt increase to $2.4-3.6 trillion in 2020 and 2021.
  • Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit developing economies, many of them are trapped in a debt-spiral — struggling with unsustainable debt burdens for many years, as well as with rising health and economic needs.
  • The financial turmoil from the crisis has triggered record portfolio capital outflows from emerging economies and sharp currency devaluations in developing countries, making servicing their debts more onerous.

Need of the hour- suggestions made by UNCTAD:

The report outlined three key steps:

  1. Automatic temporary standstills:

Provides macroeconomic “breathing space” for all crisis-stricken developing countries requesting forbearance to free up resources, normally dedicated to servicing external sovereign debt.”

If the standstills are long and comprehensive enough they would facilitate an effective response to the Covid-19 shock through increased health and social expenditure in the immediate future and allow for post-crisis economic recovery along sustainable growth, fiscal and trade balance trajectories.

  1. Debt relief and restructure programmes:

Such programs would ensure the “breathing space” gained under the first step is used to reassess longer-term developing country debt sustainability, on a case-by-case basis.”

A trillion dollar write-off would be closer to the figure needed to prevent economic disaster across the developing world.

  1. International developing country debt authority:

To oversee their implementation and lay the institutional and regulatory foundations for a more permanent international framework to guide sovereign debt restructuring in future.

About United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):

UNCTAD is a permanent intergovernmental body established by the United NationsGeneral Assembly in 1964.

It is part of the UN Secretariat. It reports to the UN General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, but has its own membership, leadership, and budget. It is also a part of the United Nations Development Group.

Objectives and roles:

It supports developing countries to access the benefits of a globalized economy more fairly and effectively. Along with other UN departments and agencies, it also measures the progress made in the Sustainable Development Goals, as set out in Agenda 2030.

Reports published by UNCTAD are:

  1. Trade and Development Report
  2. World Investment Report
  3. Technology and Innovation Report
  4. Digital Economy Report

Sources: UNCTAD.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Operation Twist

What to study?

For Prelims: Meaning, process and implications.

For Mains: Significance and associated concerns.

 Context: The Reserve bank of India has decided to bring back its bond swapping programmed billed as India’s Operation Twist with an aim to help monetary transmission.

The RBI said that it will conduct purchase and sale of government securities under open market operations (OMO) for Rs10,000 crore each on 27 April.

What is ‘Operation Twist’?

‘Operation Twist’ is RBI’s simultaneous selling of short-term securities and buying of long term securities through open market operations (OMO). Under this mechanism, the short-term securities are transitioned into long-term securities.

How does RBI manage ‘Operation Twist’?

  1. This operation involves buying and selling government securities simultaneously in order to bring down long-term interest rates and bolster short-term rates.
  2. There is an inverse relationship between the bond prices and their yields. As the central bank buys long-term securities (bonds), their demand rise which in turn pushes up their prices.
  3. However, the bond yield comes down with an increase in prices. Yield is the return an investor gets on his (bond) holding/investment.
  4. The interest rate in an economy is determined by yield. Thus, lower long-term interest rates mean people can avail long-term loans (such as buying houses, cars or financing projects) at lower rates.
  5. This also results in a dip in the expected returns from long-term savings which tilts the balance from saving towards spending. Hence, cheaper retail loans can help encourage consumption spending which is the largest GDP component in the economy.

How does it affect investors?

  • Fixed income investors with higher exposure to long term debt will benefit from easing yield of long-term bonds.
  • Consumers/borrowers will also profit from ‘Operation Twist’ as the retail loans will now get cheaper.
  • Previously banks were forced to price their retail loans at higher rates owing to high yields on long-term government borrowings. Cheaper retail loans mean a boost in consumption and spending in the economy which in turn will revive growth.

 What are Open Market Operations?

The RBI manages and controls the liquidity, rupee strength and monetary management through purchase and sale of government securities (G-Secs) in a monetary tool called Open market Operations.

  • OMOs are the market operations conducted by the RBI by way of sale and purchase of G-Secs to and from the market with an objective to adjust the rupee liquidity conditions in the market on a durable basis.
  • When the RBI feels that there is excess liquidity in the market, it resorts to sale of securities thereby sucking out the rupee liquidity. Similarly, when the liquidity conditions are tight, the RBI may buy securities from the market, thereby releasing liquidity into the market. On Friday, the yield on 10-year benchmark bonds fell by 13 bps to 6.60 per cent, following the RBI announcement.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Types of Government securities?
  2. What are T- Bills?
  3. Which government securities carry interest?
  4. Which securities are sold at discounted price?
  5. Difference between monetary vs fiscal policies.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Operation Twist being conducted by RBI.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Swamitva Yojana to boost rural economy

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the scheme.

For Mains: Uniqueness and significance of the scheme.

Context: On Panchayati Raj Diwas (April 24th), the Prime Minister of India launched ‘Swamitva Yojana’ or Ownership Scheme to map residential land ownership in the rural sector using modern technology like the use of drones.

The scheme aims to revolutionise property record maintenance in India.

Overview and key features of the ‘Swamitva Yojana’:

The scheme is piloted by the Panchayati Raj ministry.

The residential land in villages will be measured using drones to create a non-disputable record.

Property card for every property in the village will be prepared by states using accurate measurements delivered by drone-mapping. These cards will be given to property owners and will be recognised by the land revenue records department.

Benefits of the scheme:

  • The delivery of property rights through an official document will enable villagers to access bank finance using their property as collateral.
  • The property records for a village will also be maintained at the Panchayat level, allowing for the collection of associated taxes from the owners. The money generated from these local taxes will be used to build rural infrastructure and facilities.
  • Freeing the residential properties including land of title disputes and the creation of an official record is likely to result in appreciation in the market value of the properties.
  • The accurate property records can be used for facilitating tax collection, new building and structure plan, issuing of permits and for thwarting attempts at property grabbing.

Need for and significance of the scheme:

The need for this Yojana was felt since several villagers in the rural areas don’t have papers proving ownership of their land. In most states, survey and measurement of the populated areas in the villages has not been done for the purpose of attestation/verification of properties. The new scheme is likely to become a tool for empowerment and entitlement, reducing social strife on account of discord over properties.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. When and why is Panchayati Raj Diwas is celebrated?
  2. As per the scheme, who issues property cards?
  3. Various benefits under the scheme.
  4. Nodal Ministry to implement the scheme.

Sources: pib.

 


Facts for Prelims


Panchayati Raj Diwas:

National Panchayati Raj Day is the national day of India celebrated by Ministry of Panchayati Raj on 24th April annually.

Why on this day? The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 came into force with effect from 24th April, 1993. It has institutionalized Panchayati Raj through the village, Intermediate and District level Panchayats.

Anthurium:

Anthurium is one of the best domestic flowering plants in the world. It purifies the surrounding air and remove harmful airborne chemicals like formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene, xylene, and allergens.

NASA has placed it in the list of air purifier plants.

Why in News?

D Vasini Bai, a women innovator from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, has developed 10 varieties of Anthurium.

National Innovation Foundation-India (NIF) has facilitated mass multiplication and large scale production of four highly demanded varieties through tissue culture technique at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore, for the diffusion of the varieties in similar agro-climatic zones of the country.

e-GramSwaraj Portal and Mobile App:

Launched by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

It will provide the Gram Panchayats with a single interface to prepare and implement their Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP).

The portal will ensure real time monitoring and accountability.

Devanahalli Pomelo:

In a bid to revive and conserve ‘Devanahalli Pomelo’, an endangered citrus fruit, the operators of Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru have started a plantation drive in the region as part of their flagship CSR Programme ‘Namma Ooru’.

Devanahalli Pomelo has a Geographical Indication (GI) tag as it is known for its sweet taste.

Also known by its scientific name Citrus Maxima, the tree’s fruit is rich in Vitamin C. While each pomelo tree grows 24 inches per season, it can live from 50-150 years and reach a height of 25 feet.

 

The Hindu News Analysis Video by InsightsIAS: