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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 15 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. 

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

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Maths, physics, chemistry not compulsory for engineering admissions: AICTE.

2. Index Monitoring Cell.

3. Quad leaders for ‘open, free’ Indo-Pacific.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Commission for Air Quality Management.

2. Panel on mythical Sarasvati river.

3. Framework for water quality testing, monitoring.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. India’s foreign exchange reserves now world’s fourth largest.

2. Ayya Vaikunda Swamikal.

3. Atmanirbhar Niveshak Mitra.

 


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to Education.

Maths, physics, chemistry not compulsory for engineering admissions: AICTE:


Context:

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) — the technical education regulator — has made Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics (PCM) optional for students who wish to pursue technical courses like biotechnology, textile or agriculture engineering at the undergraduate level. However, PCM remains mandatory for most engineering subjects like computer science.

  • The revised regulation is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) vision that encourages flexibility in the choice of subjects.

As per the latest guidelines:

Students only need to score 45% in any three subjects from a list of 14 in order to qualify.

The universities will offer suitable bridge courses such as mathematics, physics, engineering drawing, etc for the students coming from diverse backgrounds to achieve the desired learning outcome of the programme.

About the New Education Policy:

The aim of the Policy 2020 is to create an education system which is deeply rooted in Indian ethos and can rebuild India as a global knowledge superpower, by providing high-quality education to all.

Highlights of the policy:

  • Public spending on education by states, Centre to be raised to 6% of the GDP.
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development renamed as Minister of Education.

Digital Education- related:

  • An autonomous body, the national educational technology forum, will be created for the exchange of ideas on use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning and administration.
  • Separate technology unit to develop digital education resources. The new unit will coordinate digital infrastructure, content and capacity building.

Teacher Education- related:

  • By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a four year integrated B.Ed.
  • Teachers will also be given training in online educational methods relevant to the Indian situation in order to help bridge the digital divide.

School Education- related:

  • Universalise the pre-primary education (age range of 3-6 years) by 2025.
  • Universalization of Education from pre-school to secondary level with 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030.
  • A new school curriculum with coding and vocational studies from class 6 will be introduced.
  • A child’s mother tongue will be used as the medium of instruction till class 5.

New Curricular and Pedagogical Structure:

The NEP proposes changing the existing 10+2 Curricular and Pedagogical Structure with 5+3+3+4 design covering the children in the age group 3-18 years. Under this —

  1. Five years of the Foundational Stage: 3 years of pre-primary school and Grades 1, 2;
  2. Three years of the Preparatory (or Latter Primary) Stage: Grades 3, 4, 5;
  3. Three years of the Middle (or Upper Primary) Stage: Grades 6, 7, 8;
  4. Four years of the High (or Secondary) Stage: Grades 9, 10, 11, 12.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of new Pedagogical Structure with 5+3+3+4 design.
  2. What are Special Educational Zones as per the new policy?
  3. Who will set up the Gender Education Fund as per the policy?
  4. Role of the proposed Academic Bank of Credit.
  5. Gross Enrolment Ratio target in higher education?
  6. About the proposed national educational technology forum.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of recently announced New Education Policy 2020.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

Index Monitoring Cell:


Context:

Index Monitoring Cell (IMC) recently submitted its report to the centre.

Key recommendations:

Decriminalise defamation.

Consent of the Press Council of India should be made a prerequisite before filing an FIR against the media or a publication.

About the Index Monitoring Cell:

  • Set up by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in 2020.
  • Its task is to improve India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index and to evolve an objective yardstick to gauge media freedom.
  • The group will also put in place a mechanism for States to come up with their own rankings of press freedom.

Composition of the IMC:

It will include the director-general of the Press Information Bureau, officials from the Registrar of newspapers of India, Bureau of outreach and communication, and from the press facilitation unit, apart from the secretary of the Press Council of India and Niti Aayog.

About Press Freedom Index:

Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), or Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organisation that works to document attacks on journalists around the world, ranked India 142 out of 180 countries in its annual Press Freedom Index report published on April 22, 2020.

  • The parameters that are evaluated for these rankings, include pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legal framework, transparency among others.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. When and why was the IMC setup?
  2. About the Press Freedom Index.
  3. Parameters.
  4. India’s performance.

Mains Link:

Suggest ways to improve India’s ranking in the annual Press Freedom Index.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Quad leaders for ‘open, free’ Indo-Pacific:


Context:

First-ever leadership summit of the quad grouping was held virtually.

  • India, Japan, U.S. and Australia participated.

indo_pacific

Outcomes of the meet:

  • The Quad members agreed to ensure “equitable” access to vaccines.
  • They also observed that the Indo-Pacific region should be governed in accordance with human rights.
  • The leaders also discussed the challenge posed by China.

What is Quad grouping?

The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

  • All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.

Genesis:

The grouping traces its genesis to 2004 when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.

  • It then met for the first time in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
  • The intention was to enhance maritime cooperation between the four nations.

Significance of the grouping:

  • Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
  • Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
  • It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.

What are China’s views on the Quad?

There is a general understanding that the Quad would not take on a military dimension against any country. The strategic community in China, nevertheless, had branded it an emerging “Asian NATO”.

Notably, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s “Confluence of Two Seas” address to the Indian Parliament gave a fresh impetus to the Quad concept. This recognised the economic rise of India.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Quad- composition.
  2. When was it first proposed?
  3. Countries and important islands in the Indian Ocean region.
  4. Geographical overview of Indo-Pacific region.
  5. Important seas and straits in the region.

Mains Link:

A formal revival and re-invigoration of the Quad is called for to maintain peace and tranquillity and to ensure observance of the UN Law of the Seas. Examine.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Conservation and Pollution related issues.

Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM):


Context:

Nearly five months after its setup, the central government’s “Commission for Air Quality Management” or CAQM in National Capital Region and its Adjoining Areas has been shut down due to lapsing of the ordinance.

Background:

  • The Centre dissolved it after five months as the ordinance lapsed after failing to become an act.
  • The erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA had been dissolved to make way for the Commission.

About the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM):

The Commission for Air Quality Management was formed by an ordinance in October 2020, the “Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020”.

Composition:

Chairperson: To be chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary or Chief Secretary.

  • The Commission will be a statutory authority.
  • The Commission will supersede bodies such as the central and state pollution control boards of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan.
  • It will have the powers to issue directions to these state governments on issues pertaining to air pollution.

Jurisdiction:

Exclusive jurisdiction over the NCR, including areas in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in matters of air pollution, and will be working along with CPCB and ISRO, apart from the respective state governments.

Will this new body also have penal powers?

Yes, the Commission will have some teeth. If its directions are contravened, through say, the setting up of an industrial unit in a restricted area, the Commission will have the power to impose a fine of up to Rs 1 crore and imprisonment of up to 5 years.

bad_air

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About EPCA.
  2. About NGT.
  3. About CPCB.
  4. Overview of the ‘Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020’.

Mains Link:

Why was EPCA dissolved? What has replaced EPCA? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation and Pollution related issues.

Panel on mythical Sarasvati river:


Context:

The Centre has reconstituted an advisory committee to chalk out a plan for studying the mythical Sarasvati river for the next two years, after the earlier panel’s term ended in 2019.

  • The ASI had first set up the committee on December 28, 2017 for a period of two years.

Composition of the committee:

The committee would be chaired by the Culture Minister and include officials from the Culture, Tourism, Water Resources, Environment and Forest, Housing and Urban Affairs Ministries; representatives of the Indian Space Research Organisation; officials from the governments of Gujarat, Haryana and Rajasthan; and an ASI official.

About Saraswati:

The river, which had originated from Kapal tirith in the Himalayas in the west of Kailash, was flowing southward to Mansarovar and then taking a turn towards west.

The river flowed through Haryana, Rajasthan and North Gujarat. It also flowed through Pakistan before meeting Western Sea through Rann of Kutch and was approximately 4,000 km in length.

  • The river had two branches: western and eastern. The Himalayan-born Satluj “of the PAST”, which flowed through the channels of present-day Ghaggar-Patialiwali rivulets, represents the western branch of the ancient river.
  • On the other hand, Markanda and Sarsuti represented the western branch of Saraswati, known as Tons-Yamuna.
  • The confluence of the branches was near Shatrana, 25 km south of Patiala. And suddenly, it flows crossing the dessert (Rann of Kutch) and meet gulf of western sea.

Historical evidence:

  • The Sarasvati River is one of the main Rigvedic rivers mentioned in the scripture Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts.
  • Book 6 of the Rig Veda includes a hymn called the ‘Nadistuti Sukta’, which sings praises of the Saraswati as being “perfect mother, unsurpassed river, supreme goddess”.
  • For 2000 years, between 6000 and 4000 B.C., the Saraswati flowed as a great river.

saraswati

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the river.
  2. Its origin, basin states and tributaries.
  3. Other Himalayan rivers.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Pollution and conservation related issues.

Framework for water quality testing, monitoring:


Context:

Jal Shakti Ministry launches framework for water quality testing, monitoring.

 Key facts:

  • The framework is part of the Centre’s flagship Jal Jeevan Mission. Of the ₹3.6 lakh crore Jal Jeevan budget, 2% has been earmarked for quality monitoring.
  • The guidelines mandate a network of the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited labs to be set up in every State, district and block over the next year.
  • At the panchayat level, teams of women in the village water and sanitation committees will be given field testing kits.
  • State governments can include private players as part of the network, but the Centre has capped tariffs to ensure that they remain within the reach of the common man.
  • Apart from voluntary tests by members of the public, officials have been mandated to do regular inspections. All results of testing will be fed into the Water Quality Information Management System.

The basic water quality parameters prescribed under the guidelines are:

  • pH value, total dissolved solids, turbidity, chloride, total alkalinity, total hardness, sulphate, iron, total arsenic, fluoride, nitrate, total coliform bacteria, e.coil or thermo-tolerant coliform bacteria.

jal_jeevan

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Articles to be covered tomorrow:


India’s foreign exchange reserves now world’s fourth largest:

  • India’s foreign exchange reserves surpass Russia’s to become world’s fourth largest.
  • India’s reserves, enough to cover roughly 18 months of imports, have been bolstered by a rare current-account surplus, rising inflows into the local stock market and foreign direct investment.
  • India’s foreign currency holdings fell by $4.3 billion to $580.3 billion as of March 5.
  • China has the largest reserves, followed by Japan and Switzerland on the International Monetary Fund table.

Ayya Vaikunda Swamikal:

Ayya Vaikunda Swamikal (1809-1851) was a great thinker and social reformer of the 19th century.

  • He lived in the princely kingdom of Travancore in the early decades of the 19th century.
  • Founded ‘Samathwa Samajam’, an early socio-reform movement in India (1836).
  • He was the first to install a mirror for worshipping in South India.
  • He was the exponent of a new path of spiritual thoughts named ‘Ayya Vazhi’.
  • He said, ‘One caste, One religion, One clan, One world, One God’.
  • He led an agitation known as the Mel Mundu Samaram.

Atmanirbhar Niveshak Mitra:

  • To be launched by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The portal is being developed for handholding and facilitation, information dissemination, and facilitation of domestic investors.
  • It will give information about approvals, licenses, and clearances required for businesses.
  • It will also help investors connect to various stakeholders on single platform like Central Ministries, Industry Associations, State Departments.
  • This Project is under the “Invest India” agency which was set up in 2009 as a non-profit venture under the DPIIT.

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