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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 30 June 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1.  Zealandia

 

GS Paper 2:

1. World Bank’s STARS project.

2.In 24 hours, Palestine faces an existential threat.

 

GS Paper 3:

1.Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PM FME) scheme.

2.59 Chinese Apps Banned.

3.Legitimate concern: on law and order in Nagaland.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1.Covaxin

 


GS Paper  : 1


Topics Covered: Geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features.

Zealandia

Researchers from GNS Science in New Zealand have announced that they mapped the shape and size of the Zealandia continent in unprecedented detail.

 

Background:

Scientists confirmed the existence of an eighth continent, called Zealandia, under New Zealand and the surrounding ocean in 2017.

Because 94% of Zealandia’s 2 million square miles are underwater, mapping the continent is challenging.

 

Latest findings:

  1. Zealandia‘s area is nearly 2 million square miles (5 million square kilometers) — about half the size of Australia.
  2. But only 6% of the continent is above sea level. That part underpins New Zealand’s north and south islands and the island of New Caledonia.
  3. Latest map depicts coastlines, territorial limits, and the names of major undersea features. The map is part of a global initiative to map the planet’s entire ocean floor by 2030.
  4. This map also reveals where Zealandia sits across various tectonic plates, which of those plates are being pushed under the other in a process known as subduction, and how quickly that movement is happening.

 

How Zealandia evolved?

Gondwana formed when Earth’s ancient supercontinent, Pangea, split into two fragments.

  • Laurasia in the north became Europe, Asia, and North America.
  • Gondwana in the south dispersed to form modern-day Africa, Antarctica, South America, and Australia.

Further, Geologic forces continued to rearrange these land masses, and Zealandia was forced under the waves about 30 million to 50 million years after it broke off Gondwana as the largest tectonic plate — the Pacific Plate — slowly subducted beneath it

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Pangea, Gondwana and Laurasia.
  2. Where is Zeanlandia?
  3. Regions surrounding.
  4. What are tectonic plates? Name the major plates.
  5. Size and composition of earth’s crust.

Mains Link:

Write a note on Zealandia.

Sources: TOI.

 


GS Paper  : 2


Topics Covered: Issues related to education.

World Bank’s STARS project

 

What is it?

STARS stands for Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS).

It is a project to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states.

Six states are- Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan.

Some 250 million students (between the age of 6 and 17) in 1.5 million schools, and over 10 million teachers will benefit from the program.

 

Reform initiatives under the project include:

  1. Focusing more directly on the delivery of education services at the state, district and sub district levelsby providing customized local-level solutions towards school improvement.
  2. Addressing demands from stakeholders, especially parents, for greater accountability and inclusionby producing better data to assess the quality of learning; giving special attention to students from vulnerable section.
  3. Equipping teachers to manage this transformationby recognizing that teachers are central to achieving better learning outcomes.
  4. Investing more in developing India’s human capital needsby strengthening foundational learning for children in classes 1 to 3 and preparing them with the cognitive, socio-behavioural and language skills to meet future labour market needs.

 

Atmanirbhar and education:

Atmanirbhar Bharat calls for an India that is able to produce and deliver local goods and services to its citizens. This applies equally to education for all children.

Delivering a service, like education, requires a capable state, especially given the scale and complexity of its large and diverse population.

Building state capability involves a process of learning to do things on one’s own. This is precisely the idea behind an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Fundamentally, therefore, it cannot be outsourced.

  • In other words, state capability is about getting things done in the government, and by the government, by ensuring effective implementation that is responsive to local needs, but also about being able to design and conduct reforms.

 

Why is the STARS approach to build state capacity flawed? 

  1. It fails to address the basic capacity issues: major vacancies across the education system from District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), district and block education offices, to teachers in schools, remain unaddressed.
  2. World Bank ignores that decentralising decision-making requires the devolution of funds and real decision-making power. It requires not just investment in the capacity of the front-line bureaucracy but also in increasing their discretionary powers while fostering social accountability.
  3. Trust is entirely ignored in the World Bank project. Instead, the Bank displays yet again an over-reliance on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a panacea that lacks any backing in evidence (Trust here implies listening and collaborating across different levels within the administration).
  4. Outsourcing basic governance functions by “expanding private initiatives” and “reducing government tasks” will not make education “more relevant to local needs” or “democratically promote people’s participation by empowering local authorities” as stated in the project document.

 

What needs to be done?

  1. Administration must be equipped with adequate physical, financial and human resources. An overburdened bureaucracy with vacancies and without basic equipment cannot be expected to be effective.
  2. Administrative or governance reforms must give greater discretion to the front-line bureaucracy to address local issues and innovate if required.
  3. There needs to be trust within the administration among peers and across different levels within the administration.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. States covered under the STARS project.
  2. About World Bank and its funding.
  3. Institutions of World Bank.
  4. World Bank Group.
  5. What is open data initiative?

 

Mains Link:

Write a note on World Bank’s STARS project.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

In 24 hours, Palestine faces an existential threat

 

Context:

On June 24, the UN Secretary General António Guterres told a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at a “watershed moment”.

  • The Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank have alarmed the Palestinians, many Israelis and the international community.

Such annexation would be “a most serious violation of international law”.

 

What needs to be done now?

He called upon the Israeli government to abandon its annexation plans and asked the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN) to resume its mandated mediatory role.

 

What’s the issue?

The UN Secretary General’s alarm has been sounded in the context of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reported plan to annex on July 1 around 30% of the Occupied West Bank.

This will include annexation of all the existing (post-1967) settlements in addition to areas surrounding them and access roads. 

 

What is Annexation in the international law? Why Israel’s move is illegal?

Under international law, annexation is forcible acquisition of territory by one state at the expense of another state.

Such an act even if sanctified by Israeli law is illegal under international law and would violate the universally acknowledged principle of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force”.

  • This is the accepted position of all international legal bodies including the International Court of Justice.
  • Even, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) has described the annexation of occupied territory as a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions.
  • It is also contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly that acquisition of territory war or by force is inadmissible.

 

Where is West Bank?

It is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by the Green Line separating it and Israel on the south, west and north. The West Bank also contains a significant section of the western Dead Sea shore.

 

What are the disputed settlements here?  Who lives there?

  1. The West Bank was captured by Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
  2. Israel snatched it back during the Six Day War of 1967, and has occupied it ever since.
  3. It has built some 130 formal settlements in the West Bank, and a similar number of smaller, informal settlements have mushroomed over the last 20-25 years.
  4. Over 4 lakh Israeli settlers — many of them religious Zionists who claim a Biblical birthright over this land — now live here, along with some 26 lakh Palestinians.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of the proposed West Asia Peace plan?
  2. What is Six Day war?
  3. About the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  4. Middle East quartet.

Locate the following on map:

  1. Goals Heights.
  2. West Bank.
  3. Jerusalem.
  4. Dead Sea.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


Topics Covered:  Food processing

Scheme for formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (FME)

 

Context:

The government has launched the scheme- Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises (PM FME).

The scheme will be implemented for five years until 2024-25.

 

About the scheme:

The Union Cabinet, last month, had given its approval to this scheme.

It is for the Unorganized Sector on All India basis.

 

Objectives:

  1. Increase in access to finance by micro food processing units.
  2. Increase in revenues of target enterprises.
  3. Enhanced compliance with food quality and safety standards.
  4. Strengthening capacities of support systems.
  5. Transition from the unorganized sector to the formal sector.
  6. Special focus on women entrepreneurs and Aspirational districts.
  7. Encourage Waste to Wealth activities.
  8. Focus on minor forest produce in Tribal Districts.

 

Salient features:

  1. Centrally Sponsored Expenditure to be shared by Government of India and States at 60:40.
  2. 2,00,000 micro-enterprises are to be assisted with credit linked subsidy. Micro enterprises will get credit linked subsidy at 35 per cent of the eligible project cost with ceiling of Rs. 10 lakh.
  3. Beneficiary contribution will be minimum 10 per cent and balance from loan. Seed capital will be given to SHGs (Rs. four lakh per SHG) for loan to members for working capital and small tools.
  4. Cluster approach.
  5. Focus on perishables.

 

Administrative and Implementation Mechanisms:

  1. The Scheme would be monitored at Centre by an Inter-Ministerial Empowered Committee (IMEC) under the Chairmanship of Minister, FPI.
  2. A State/ UT Level Committee (SLC) chaired by the Chief Secretary will monitor and sanction/ recommend proposals for expansion of micro units and setting up of new units by the SHGs/ FPOs/ Cooperatives.
  3. The States/ UTs will prepare Annual Action Plans covering various activities for implementation of the scheme, which will be approved by Government of India.
  4. A third party evaluation and mid-term review mechanism would be built in the programme.
  5. National level portal would be set-up wherein the applicants/ individual enterprise could apply to participate in the Scheme. All the scheme activities would be undertaken on the National portal.

 

Benefits of the scheme:

  1. Nearly eight lakh micro- enterprises will benefit through access to information, better exposure and formalization.
  2. It will enable them to formalize, grow and become competitive.
  3. The project is likely to generate nine lakh skilled and semi-skilled jobs.
  4. Scheme envisages increased access to credit by existing micro food processing entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in the Aspirational Districts.
  5. Better integration with organized markets.
  6. Increased access to common services like sorting, grading, processing, packaging, storage etc.

 

Why we need this scheme?

There are about 25 lakh unregistered food processing enterprises which constitute 98% of the sector and are unorganized and informal. Nearly 66 % of these units are located in rural areas and about 80% of them are family-based enterprises.

This sector faces a number of challenges including the inability to access credit, high cost of institutional credit, lack of access to modern technology, inability to integrate with the food supply chain and compliance with the health &safety standards.

Strengthening this segment will lead to reduction in wastage, creation of off-farm job opportunities and aid in achieving the overarching Government objective of doubling farmers’ income.

 

InstaThink:

Prelims Link:

  1. Difference between centrally sponsored and central sector scheme.
  2. Core vs core of core schemes.
  3. Role of states in this scheme.
  4. Who monitors this scheme at state levels?
  5. Focus of the scheme.

 

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the Scheme for formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (FME).

 

Sources: pib.

 

 

Topics Covered: Internal security related issues

59 Chinese Apps Banned

 

Indian government has put a ban on 59 apps including TikTok and WeChat.

This marks the largest sweep against the Chinese technology companies.

 

Why the Govt decided to ban 59 Chinese apps?

These measures have been undertaken since there is credible information that these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.

  • The government had received complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India.

Therefore, the decision has been taken in a bid to safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile users.

 

Background:

The ban comes days after Indian intelligence agencies red flagged these Chinese apps over safety and privacy issues of users.

The recommendations of the intelligence agencies have backing of the National Security Council Secretariat which determined that certain China-linked applications could be detrimental to the country’s security.

 

How it Will Affect Indian Users?

Jobs at stake:

Most of these platforms have Indian creators, for many of whom this is the only source of income.

Some apps on the banned list are widely popular among Indians.

  • TikTok (one of the banned apps) has more than 100 million active users in India. TikTok was the only source of income for many users.

Besides, many of these apps such as UC News and others have offices and employees in India, hence following the ban, scores of jobs could be at stake.

 

What next?

  • Meity has issued instructions to Google and Apple to remove the banned applications from their respective application stores.
  • Additionally, telecom operators and Internet service providers will be asked to block access and use of these applications on their networks.
  • For this, the Ministry has invoked its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

 

Topics Covered: Internal security related issues

Legitimate concern: on law and order in Nagaland

 

Context:

With the legitimacy of the Constitutionally-elected state government’s being “challenged on a day-to-day basis by the armed gangs who question the sovereignty and integrity of the nation”, Nagaland Governor has told the chief minister that he “could no longer abstain from constitutional obligations in the state under Article 371A (1) (b) of the Constitution”.

 

What is Article 371A(1)(b) all about?

It applies exclusively to Nagaland and bestows upon the governor “special responsibility with respect to law and order”.

According to the provision, the governor, for all practical purposes, has the final say on all matters related to the state’s law and order and on what constitutes law and order.

 

What’s the issue?

The governor has voiced concerns of sections of civil society over the slide in law and order; illegal collections by armed groups have been an issue for several years.

 

What next?

Despite the Centre’s heady statements heralding a Naga peace accord since 2015, it is nowhere close to finalising it with the groups.

In some ways, this is due to the NSCN-IM’s obstinacy such as its insistence on retaining a separate flag and a Constitution for the State of Nagaland and its unwillingness to dismantle its parallel administrative and paramilitary structure.

The distrust it invokes among other Naga organisations besides other north-eastern governments because of its core ideology of a “greater Nagalim”, and the inherent difficulties in getting other insurgent actors on board have made this a conflict that persists despite the ceasefire and a problem that does not lend itself to a quick solution.

 

How old is the Naga political issue?

Pre- independence:

  1. The British annexed Assam in 1826, and in 1881, the Naga Hills too became part of British India. The first sign of Naga resistance was seen in the formation of the Naga Club in 1918, which told the Simon Commission in 1929 “to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times”.
  2. In 1946 came the Naga National Council (NNC), which declared Nagaland an independent state on August 14, 1947.
  3. The NNC resolved to establish a “sovereign Naga state” and conducted a “referendum” in 1951, in which “99 per cent” supported an “independent” Nagaland.

 

Post- independence:

On March 22, 1952, underground Naga Federal Government (NFG) and the Naga Federal Army (NFA) were formed. The Government of India sent in the Army to crush the insurgency and, in 1958, enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

 

When did the NSCN come into being?

A group of about 140 members led by Thuingaleng Muivah, who were at that time in China, refused to accept the Shillong Accord, and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in 1980.

As per the accord, NNC and NFG agreed to give up arms.

In 1988, the NSCN split into NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) after a violent clash.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Parts of States included under Greater Nagalim.
  2. About Naga Club and NNC.
  3. When was the Naga Referendum held?
  4. Overview of AFSPA.
  5. Overview of Article 371 and sub provisions thereunder.

 

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues and challenges associated with the Naga Peace Accord.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Facts for Prelims:

Covaxin:

  • It is India’s first COVID vaccine candidate approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
  • Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine created from a strain of the infectious SARS COV-2 virus.
  • It is the first vaccine that has got approval of the drug controller for phase 1 and II human clinical trials.
  • The vaccine has been developed by Hyderabad Major Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).

The company is also involved in the development of CoroFlu, a nasal vaccine for COVID-19, as part of an international collaboration of virologists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and vaccine firm FluGen.


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