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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 12 March 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. 

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. What is space hurricane?

 

GS Paper 2:

1. One Nation One Ration Card system.

2. Annual democracy report.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Prompt Corrective Action Framework.

2. PLI: Centre’s nod for 33 API applications.

3. Plea in SC against wrongful prosecution.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Definition- Intellectual disability.

2. Lingaraja Temple.

 


GS Paper  :  1


 

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

What is space hurricane?


Context:

Scientists from China recently discovered a space hurricane for the first time ever above the North pole.

  • Previously, it was believed, space hurricanes were a theoretical phenomenon.

Key facts:

  • As per their report, the hurricane measured roughly 600 miles across and rained down charged electrons for as long as eight hours.
  • The space hurricane spun counterclockwise at speeds up to 4,700 miles per hour, the academic paper reported.
  • The hurricane was reported in space directly above the North Pole.

Why it matters?

The new finding could help scientists learn more about how the Sun affects Earth’s atmosphere, gathering more details on how space weather might harm satellites and other objects in orbit.

What are space hurricanes?

  • They are thought to be a result of the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field interacting.
  • It is a huge, funnel-like, spiral geomagnetic storm that occurs above the polar Ionosphere of Earth, during extremely quiet conditions.
  • They are related to the aurora borealis phenomenon, as the electron precipitation from the storm’s funnel produces gigantic, cyclone-shaped auroras.
  • They are made up of plasmas, consisting of extremely hot ionized gases that rotate at extremely high speeds.

Formation:

Space hurricanes are caused by plasma unleashed from the sun as solar wind. These charged particle clouds travel through space and fuel magnetic storms as they interact with magnetic fields.

formation

Impact:

  • The researchers think these kinds of storms could create more drag on satellites and interfere with radio signals and communications, making these events particularly important to understand.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a space hurricane?
  2. Formation.
  3. Key features.
  4. Where is it formed?
  5. How is it different from regular hurricanes?

Mains Link:

Write a note on space hurricanes.

Sources: ET.

 


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

One Nation One Ration Card System:


Context:

The ministry of finance has announced that 17 states have successfully implemented ‘one nation, one ration card system’ after Uttarakhand became the latest state to complete the operationalization of reforms.

About the scheme:

One Nation One Ration Card (RC) will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice.

Benefits: no poor person is deprived of getting subsidised foodgrains under the food security scheme when they shift from one place to another. It also aims to remove the chance of anyone holding more than one ration card to avail benefits from different states.

Significance: 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.

Standard format of ‘one nation, one ration card’:

A standard format for ration card has been prepared after taking into account the format used by different states.

  • For national portability, the state governments have been asked to issue the ration card in bi-lingual format, wherein besides the local language, the other language could be Hindi or English.
  • The states have also been told to have a 10-digit standard ration card number, wherein first two digits will be state code and the next two digits will be running ration card numbers.
  • Besides this, a set of another two digits will be appended with ration card number to create unique member IDs for each member of the household in a ration card.

easy_access

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is PDS?
  2. What is NFSA? Eligibility? Benefits?
  3. How are fair price shops established?
  4. Key features of One Nation One Ration Card (RC) scheme.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of One Nation One Ration Card scheme.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Role of civil services in a democracy.

Annual democracy report:


Context:

Fifth annual democracy report, titled ‘Autocratisation goes viral’, has been released by Sweden’s organisation Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute.

  • The report summarises the state of democracies of the world against the backdrop of developments that have taken place over the past decade.

Highlights of the report:

Regarding India:

  1. India’s position has been downgraded from “the world’s largest democracy” to an “electoral autocracy”.
  2. Reasons behind the downgrade: “muzzling” of the media, and overuse of defamation and sedition laws.
  3. In censorship, India is now as autocratic as is Pakistan, and worse than both its neighbors Bangladesh and Nepal.
  4. The use of defamation “frequently used to silence journalists” and the use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have placed constraints on civil society and gone against the Constitution’s commitment to secularism.
  5. Universities and authorities have also punished students and activists in universities engaging in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).”
  6. However, the report notes that civil society is being increasingly muzzled while organisations aligned with the “Hindutva movement” have gained freedom.

Freedom at global level:

  1. Liberal democracies have diminished over the past decade from 41 countries to 32 countries.
  2. The global decline during the past 10 years is steep and continues in 2020, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
  3. The level of democracy enjoyed by the average global citizen in 2020 is down to levels last found around 1990.
  4. “Electoral autocracies” remain the most popular regime type, and along with closed autocracies, number 87 states, home to 68 per cent of the world’s population.
  5. Several G20 nations such as Brazil, India, Turkey, and the United States of America are part of this drift.
  6. The number of democratising countries has dropped by almost half to 16, hosting a mere 4 per cent of the global population.

Why should India be worried?

  1. This report comes within a week of US watchdog Freedom House downgrading India’s status to “partly free” in its ‘Freedom in the World’ report.
  2. In March last year, Reports Without Borders (RSF) placed India alongside China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia in a list of press freedom’s “worst digital predators”.
  3. The US government’s Religious Freedom Monitor recommended that the country’s state department should include India in the list of “countries of special concern”.
  4. Again in April, India was ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s Press Freedom Index, sliding two ranks down.
  5. The country also fell 26 places to rank 105th among 162 countries and territories on a global economic freedom index released by the Fraser Institute in Canada in September 2020.
  6. Finally in December 2020, India was ranked 111th out of 162 countries in the Cato Institute’s Human Freedom Index 2020.

India’s slide in these reports only mirrors its decline in indices compiled by independent bodies which monitor democratic freedoms over the past few years.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Various reports mentioned above and their publishers.
  2. India’s performance.

Mains Link:

Comment on India’s performance in recently released annual democracy report.

Sources: the Print.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

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

Prompt Corrective Action Framework:


Context:

The Reserve Bank of India has taken IDBI Bank Ltd out of its prompt corrective action list after it found the state-run lender was not in breach of the central bank’s parameters.

Background:

IDBI Bank was placed under the so-called PCA framework in 2017 over its high bad loans and negative return on assets, at a time when Indian lenders battled record levels of soured assets, prompting the RBI to tighten thresholds.

  • Now, the bank has provided a written commitment that it would comply with the norms of minimum regulatory capital, Net NPA and Leverage ratio on an ongoing basis and has apprised the RBI of the structural and systemic improvements that it has put in place which would help the bank in continuing to meet these commitments.

What is Prompt Corrective Action (PCA)?

  • PCA is a framework under which banks with weak financial metrics are put under watch by the RBI.
  • The RBI introduced the PCA framework in 2002 as a structured early-intervention mechanism for banks that become undercapitalised due to poor asset quality, or vulnerable due to loss of profitability.
  • It aims to check the problem of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) in the Indian banking sector.
  • The framework was reviewed in 2017 based on the recommendations of the working group of the Financial Stability and Development Council on Resolution Regimes for Financial Institutions in India and the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission.

When is Prompt corrective action framework invoked?

The PCA is invoked when certain risk thresholds are breached. There are three risk thresholds which are based on certain levels of asset quality, profitability, capital and the like.

What are the types of restrictions?

There are two type of restrictions, mandatory and discretionary. Restrictions on dividend, branch expansion, directors compensation, are mandatory while discretionary restrictions could include curbs on lending and deposit.

What will a bank do if PCA is triggered?

  • Banks are not allowed to renew or access costly deposits or take steps to increase their fee-based income.
  • Banks will also have to launch a special drive to reduce the stock of NPAs and contain generation of fresh NPAs.
  • They will also not be allowed to enter into new lines of business. RBI will also impose restrictions on the bank on borrowings from interbank market.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About PCA.
  2. Features.
  3. Parameters.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of PCA framework.

Sources: ET.

 

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

PLI: Centre’s nod for 33 API applications:


Context:

The government has approved 33 applications with a committed investment of ₹5,082.65 crore under the production linked incentive scheme for active pharmaceutical ingredients.

What is an API?

Every medicine is made up of two main ingredients — the chemically active APIs and chemically inactive, excipients, which is a substance that delivers the effect of APIs to one’s system.

  • API is a chemical compound that is the most important raw material to produce a finished medicine.
  • In medicine, API produces the intended effects to cure the disease. For instance, Paracetamol is the API for Crocin and it is the API paracetamol that gives relief from body ache and fever.
  • Fixed-dose combination drugs use multiple APIs, while single-dose drugs like Crocin use just one API.

How an API is manufactured?

  • API is not made by only one reaction from the raw materials but rather it becomes an API via several chemical compounds. The chemical compound which is in the process of becoming an API from raw material is called an intermediate.
  • There are some APIs that pass “through over ten kinds of intermediates in a process when it changes from being a raw material into an API”. The long manufacturing process is continued until it is purified and reaches a very high degree of purity.

How India lost its API market to China?

During the early 90s, India was self-reliant in manufacturing APIs.

  • However, with the rise of China as a producer of API, it captured the Indian market with cheaper products and it eventually led to high economies of scale for China.
  • China created a low-cost API manufacturing industry. The industry was backed by the low cost of capital followed by aggressive government funding models, tax incentives.
  • Their cost of operation is one-fourth of India’s cost. Even the cost of finance in China is 6-7 per cent against India’s 13-14 per cent.
  • So, due to low-profit margins and non-lucrative industry, Indian pharma companies over the years stopped manufacturing APIs.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an APIs?
  2. What is an intermediate?
  3. APIs in fixed- dose vs single- dose drug combinations.
  4. Comparison of API production in India vs China.
  5. What are excipients in Medicine?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

Plea in SC against wrongful prosecution:


Context:

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court highlighting need for the government to frame guidelines for compensating victims of wrongful prosecution by the police or authorities.

Need for:

India, with a population of around 1.5 billion, has no effective statutory/legal mechanism for the wrongful prosecutions due to police and prosecutorial misconduct resulting in a pandemic of false cases.

  • This has not only destroyed the social fabric of the nation but also affected the over-burdened judiciary with alarming pendency of over 40 million cases.

Way ahead:

The government should implement the recommendations made by the Law Commission of India in its 277th report on the miscarriage of justice in 2018.

  • The Commission had prepared the report on the basis of a Delhi High Court order in the Babloo Chauhan case in November 2017 to undertake a “ comprehensive examination of issue of relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution and incarceration”.

Background:

Undertrials account for nearly 70 per cent of India’s prison population. States including Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi have recorded Covid-19 cases in their prisons. However, several ailing or elderly undertrials are denied bail due to the gravity of their offence, as the contagion reportedly sweeps through several prisons.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Definition- Intellectual disability:

Schedule of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 term “intellectual disability” as a condition characterised by significant limitation both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behaviour, which covers a range of every day, social and practical skills, including “specified learning disabilities” and “autism spectrum disorder”.

Lingaraja Temple:

  • It is a temple dedicated to Shiva.
  • Built by king Jajati Keshari of Soma Vansh.
  • It is built in red stone and is a classic example of Kalinga style of architecture.
  • Located to the north of the temple is Bindusagar Lake.
  • The temple has images of Vishnu, possibly because of the rising prominence of Jagannath sect emanating from the Ganga rulers who built the Jagannath Temple in Puri in the 12th century.


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