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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 12 February 2021

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. 

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

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Urban Local Bodies (ULB) reforms.

2. Coordinated disengagement at Pangong Tso.

3. International Energy Agency.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Move to privatise banks: Why the proposal? What are the concerns?

2. Parliamentary Panel report on 5G in India.

3. 17 major OTT players adopt self-regulatory toolkit.

4. China’s Tianwen-1 probe.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Babur cruise missile.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Urban Local Bodies (ULB) reforms:


Context:

Goa becomes the 6th State to complete Urban Local Bodies (ULB) reforms. Gets additional borrowing permission of Rs. 223 crore.

  • Goa has joined five other States namely, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan and Telangana, who have completed ULB reforms.

Background:

Reforms in ULBs and the urban utilities reforms are aimed at financial strenghtening of ULBs in the States and to enable them to provide better public health and sanitation services to citizens. Economically rejuvenated ULBs will also be able to create good civic infrastructure.

The set of reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure are:

  1. The State will notify:
  • Floor rates of property tax in ULBs which are in consonance with the prevailing circle rates (i.e. guideline rates for property transactions) and;
  • Floor rates of user charges in respect of the provision of water-supply, drainage and sewerage which reflect current costs/past inflation.
  1. The State will put in place a system of periodic increase in floor rates of property tax/ user charges in line with price increases.

Besides, the centre had identified four citizen centric areas for reforms. They are:

  1. Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card System
  2. Ease of doing business reform
  3. Urban Local body/ utility reforms
  4. Power Sector reforms.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Coordinated disengagement at Pangong Tso:


Context:

India and China have reached an agreement on disengagement in the Pangong lake area to cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner.

ladakh_1

 

As per the agreement:

  • The Chinese side will keep its troop presence in the North Bank area to east of Finger 8.
  • Reciprocally, the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3.
  • A similar action would be taken in the South Bank area by both sides.
  • Any structures that had been built by both sides since April 2020 will be removed and the landforms restored.
  • Both sides have agreed on a temporary moratorium on military activities in the North Bank, including patrolling in the traditional areas.

standoff

Why there is a dispute here?

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the line that separates Indian and Chinese troops since 1962 – generally runs along the land except for the width of Pangong Tso. Here, it runs through water.

  • Both sides have marked their areas announcing which side belongs to which country.
  • India controls about 45 km stretch of the Pangong Tso and China the rest.

The lake is divided into sections called fingers:

There are eight of them in contention here. India and China have different understanding of where the LAC passes through.

  • India has maintained that the LAC passes through Finger 8, which has been the site of the final military post of China.
  • India has been patrolling the area – mostly on foot because of the nature of the terrain – up to Finger 8. But Indian forces have not had active control beyond Finger 4.
  • China, on the other hand, says the LAC passes through Finger 2. It has been patrolling up to Finger 4- mostly in light vehicles, and at times up to Finger 2.

Why China wants to encroach areas alongside Pangong Tso?

  • Pangong Tso is strategically crucial as it is very close to Chusul Valley, which was one of the battlefronts between India and China during the 1962 war.
  • China also does not want India to boost its infrastructure anywhere near the LAC. China fears it threatens its occupation of Aksai Chin and Lhasa-Kashgar highway.
  • Any threat to this highway also puts Chinese rather imperialist plans in Pakistan-occupied territories in Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, and beyond in Pakistan.

About Pangong Tso:

  • Pangong Tso literally translates into a “conclave lake”.
  • Situated at over 14,000 feet, the Lake is about 135 km long.
  • It is formed from Tethys geosyncline.
  • The Karakoram Mountain range ends at the north bank of Pangong Tso. Its southern bank too has high broken mountains sloping towards Spangur Lake in the south.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is LoC and how is it established, geographical extent and significance?
  2. What is LAC?
  3. Where is Nathu la?
  4. Where is Pangong Tso?
  5. Who administers Akashi Chin?
  6. Where is Naku La?
  7. Who controls what in Pangong Tso lake region?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Pangong Tso for India and China.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

International Energy Agency:


Context:

International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its India Energy Outlook 2021 report.

Key findings:

  1. India will make up the biggest share of energy demand growth at 25% over the next two decades, as it overtakes the European Union as the world’s third-biggest energy consumer by 2030.
  2. India’s energy consumption is expected to nearly double as the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) expands to an estimated $8.6 trillion by 2040 under its current national policy scenario.
  3. India’s growing energy needs will make it more reliant on fossil fuel imports as its domestic oil and gas production has been stagnant for years despite government policies to promote petroleum exploration and production and renewable energy.
  4. India’s oil demand is expected to rise to 8.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2040 from about 5 million bpd in 2019, the IEA said, while its refining capacity will reach 6.4 million bpd by 2030 and 7.7 million bpd by 2040, from 5 million bpd.
  5. The world’s second-biggest net oil importer after China currently imports about 76% of its crude oil needs. That reliance on overseas oil is expected to rise to 90% by 2030 and 92% by 2040.
  6. Rising oil demand could double India’s oil import bill to about $181 billion by 2030 and nearly treble it to $255 billion by 2040 compared with 2019.

About IEA:

  • Established in 1974 as per framework of the OECD, IEA is an autonomous intergovernmental organisation.
  • Its mission is guided by four main areas of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide.
  • Headquarters (Secretariat): Paris, France.

Roles and functions:

  • Established in the wake of the 1973-1974 oil crisis, to help its members respond to major oil supply disruptions, a role it continues to fulfil today.
  • IEA’s mandate has expanded over time to include tracking and analyzing global key energy trends, promoting sound energy policy, and fostering multinational energy technology cooperation.

Composition and eligibility:

It has 30 members at present. IEA family also includes eight association countries. A candidate country must be a member country of the OECD. But all OECD members are not IEA members.

To become member a candidate country must demonstrate that it has:

  1. Crude oil and/or product reserves equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports, to which the government has immediate access (even if it does not own them directly) and could be used to address disruptions to global oil supply.
  2. A demand restraint programme to reduce national oil consumption by up to 10%.
  3. Legislation and organisation to operate the Co-ordinated Emergency Response Measures (CERM) on a national basis.
  4. Legislation and measures to ensure that all oil companies under its jurisdiction report information upon request.
  5. Measures in place to ensure the capability of contributing its share of an IEA collective action.

Reports:

  1. Global Energy & CO2 Status Report.
  2. World Energy Outlook.
  3. World Energy Statistics.
  4. World Energy Balances.
  5. Energy Technology Perspectives.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Various reports released by IEA.
  2. Composition of OECD and OPEC? Who can become members?
  3. Top crude oil producers and importers globally?
  4. Who are associate members of IEA?
  5. What kind of IEA member is India?

Mains Link:

Write a note on objectives and functions of the International Energy Agency.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Move to privatise banks: Why the proposal? What are the concerns?


Context:

The Budget proposes to privatise two PSU banks this financial year.

Need for:

  1. Years of capital injections and governance reforms have not been able to improve the financial position of in public sector banks significantly.
  2. Many of them have higher levels of stressed assets than private banks, and also lag the latter on profitability, market capitalisation and dividend payment record.
  3. The government front-loaded Rs 70,000 crore into government-run banks in September 2019, Rs 80,000 crore in in FY18, and Rs 1.06 lakh crore in FY19 through recapitalisation bonds. In 2019, the government merged ten PSU banks into four.

Significance and implications of the move:

Privatisation of two public sector banks will set the ball rolling for a long-term project that envisages only a handful of state-owned banks, with the rest either consolidated with strong banks or privatised.

  • This will free up the government, the majority owner, from continuing to provide equity support to the banks year after year.

What are the issues plaguing PSU banks?

  1. Compared with private banks, PSU banks continue to have high non-performing assets (NPAs) and stressed assets although this has started declining.
  2. After the Covid-related regulatory relaxations are lifted, the government would again need to inject equity into weak public sector banks.

Nationalisation of Banks:

Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was also Finance Minister, decided to nationalise the 14 largest private banks on July 19, 1969. The idea was to align the banking sector with the socialistic approach of the then government. State Bank of India had been nationalised in 1955 itself, and the insurance sector in 1956.

Many committees had proposed bringing down the government stake in public banks below 51%:

  • The Narasimham Committee proposed 33% and the P J Nayak Committee suggested below 50%.

next_gen_PSB

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are Payment Banks?
  2. What are NBFCs?
  3. What are SFBs?
  4. Private Banks vs PSU banks.

Mains Link:

Discuss the pros and cons of privatization of PSU Banks.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Parliamentary Panel report on 5G in India:


Key findings by the panel:

  • Despite the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) having submitted a report on the steps to make India 5G ready as early as August 2018, there was very little progress on the ground.
  • Challenges: Lack of various approvals around spectrum such as uncertainty around auctions, high reserve price of spectrum, inadequate and poor development of test cases, low reach of optical fibre across India, and deficient back-haul capacity.

What needs to be done?

  1. The country must expedite its approvals process and sort out issues such as spectrum auction, back-haul capacity, price and user test cases to catch up with other countries which have taken a lead in 5G network deployment.
  2. The DoT should reach an understanding with the Department of Space and Ministry of Defence at the earliest to earmark the allocation of spectrum waves.

What is 5G?

  • 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment 4G LTE connection.
  • 5G offers exponentially faster download and upload speeds.
  • 5G will deliver multi-Gbps peak rates, ultra-low latency, massive capacity, and a more uniform user experience.

5g

Where does India stand in the 5G technology race?

All the three private telecom players, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vi have been urging the DoT to lay out a clear road map of spectrum allocation and 5G frequency bands, so that they would be able to plan the roll out of their services accordingly.

  • One big hurdle, however, is the lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with at least two of the three players, namely Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
  • On the other hand, Reliance Jio plans to launch an indigenously built 5G network for the country as early as the second half of this year.

What is the global progress on 5G?

More than governments, global telecom companies have started building 5G networks and rolling it out to their customers on a trial basis. In countries like the US, companies such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have taken the lead when it comes to rolling out commercial 5G for their users.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is 5G?
  2. Differences between 3G, 4G and 5G.
  3. Applications.
  4. What is a spectrum?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of 5G technology.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

17 major OTT players adopt self-regulatory toolkit:


Context:

Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has announced the adoption of a comprehensive implementation toolkit, which is in line with ‘Universal Self-Regulation Code’ for online curate content providers (OCCP) that was put in motion on September 4, 2020.

  • The toolkit not only aims to set out guiding principles and code of ethics, it also addresses the feedback received from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the issues of conflict of interest and prohibited content.

Self-regulatory code:

  • Last year, as many as 15 major OTT platforms in India signed a self-regulation code.
  • The code prohibited five types of content, including content which deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or flag and any visuals or story lines that promotes child pornography.
  • The objective is to govern their curated streaming content. They aim to do this by adhering to disclosures such as, specifying maturity ratings and content descriptors. 

What is OTT?

An “over-the-top” media service is any online content provider that offers streaming media as a standalone product.

  • The term is commonly applied to video-on-demand platforms, but also refers to audio streaming, messaging services, or internet-based voice calling solutions.
  • OTT services circumvent traditional media distribution channels such as telecommunications networks or cable television providers.
  • As long as you have access to an internet connection — either locally or through a mobile network — you can access the complete service at your leisure.

Why they are gaining popularity?

  1. High-value content at low cost.
  2. Original content like Netflix and Amazon prime.
  3. Compatibility with multiple devices.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in Space.

China’s Tianwen-1 probe:


Context:

China’s Tianwen-1 probe has successfully entered orbit around Mars after a 6-1/2-month journey from Earth.

What next?

  • In about three months, the Tianwen-1 will attempt to send a landing capsule carrying a 240-kilogram rover in a rapid seven-minute descent onto a massive plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars known as Utopia Planitia.

About Tianwen-1:

  • China’s first Mars probe is called Tianwen-1 (formerly Huoxing 1).
  • The spacecraft consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover.
  • Launched last year on a Long March 5 rocket from Xichang, China.
  • Landing site: Somewhere in Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in Mars’ northern latitudes and the same place NASA’s Viking 2 mission landed in the 1970s.
  • If the mission is successful, China will become the third country to achieve a Mars landing after the USSR and the United States.

There are five core science objectives:

  1. Create a geological map of Mars.
  2. Explore the characteristics of the Martian soil and potentially locate water-ice deposits.
  3. Analyze the surface material composition.
  4. Investigate the Martian atmosphere and climate at the surface.
  5. Understand the electromagnetic and gravitational fields of the planet.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Objectives of the mission.
  2. Others Mars missions.
  3. India’s Mars mission.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the mission.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Babur cruise missile:

It is a Pakistani short range surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of hitting land and sea targets with “high precision” up to 490 km away.


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