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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 24 April 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 2:

1. Rising prevalence of U.K. strain in Delhi.

2. External auditor for Hague-based OPCW.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. SWAMITVA scheme.

2. Ways and Means credit.

3. Crew-2 mission.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Border Road Organisation (BRO).

2. Leaders’ Summit on Climate 2021.

3. National Panchayati Raj Day.


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Rising prevalence of U.K. strain in Delhi:


Context:

The proportion of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7) in genome samples sequenced from COVID-19 cases in Delhi has risen from 28% in the second week of March to 50% last week.

What’s the Issue?

The U.K. variant has a mutation N501Y that is reported to increase the transmission of the virus, leading to more numbers and a knock-on consequence of increasing disease severity and mortality.

Background:

Delhi was among the States, along with Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat, where instances of the U.K. strain in the wider community far outnumbered those detected among international travellers and their contacts.

Why do viruses mutate?

  • A mutation just means a difference; a letter change in the genome.
  • Mutations in viruses are a natural part of evolution.
  • The pressure on the virus to evolve is increased by the fact that so many millions of people have now been infected.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Covid 19?
  2. What is mutation?
  3. What is mRNA?
  4. What is RTPCR test?

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated with mutations of Covid- 19 virus.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

External auditor for Hague-based OPCW:


Context:

India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has been chosen as the external auditor by the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for a three-year term starting 2021.

  • The appointment was made through an election process at the OPCW conference recently.
  • India was also selected as the member of the executive council of the OPCW representing Asia group for another two-year term during the OPCW conference.

About the Executive Council:

  • It is the governing body of the OPCW.
  • The Council consists of 41 OPCW Member States that are elected by the Conference of the States Parties and rotate every two years.
  • The Council supervises the activities of the Technical Secretariat and is responsible for promoting the effective implementation of and compliance with the Convention.
  • Each Member State has the right, on a rotating basis, to serve on the Executive Council.

About OPCW:

  • It is an international organization established by the Chemical Weapons Convention, 1997 to implement and enforce the terms of the non-proliferation treaty, which prohibits the use, stockpiling, or transfer of chemical weapons by signatory states.
  • The OPCW is authorized to perform inspections to verify that signatory states are complying with the convention.
  • By the 2001 Relationship Agreement between the OPCW and the United Nations, the OPCW reports on its inspections and other activities to the UN through the office of the Secretary General.
  • The organisation was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.

The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits:

  1. Developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, or retaining chemical weapons.
  2. The direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons.
  3. Chemical weapons use or military preparation for use.
  4. Assisting, encouraging, or inducing other states to engage in CWC-prohibited activity.
  5. The use of riot control agents “as a method of warfare.”

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About OPCW.
  2. What is CWC?
  3. Members.
  4. Functions of the executive council.
  5. Roles and functions of the external auditor of OPCW.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the chemical weapons convention.

Sources: PIB.


GS Paper  :  3


 

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 scheme:


Context:

The scheme has been extended to all states. Earlier, it was launched only for 9 states.

Overview and key features of the ‘Swamitva Yojana’:

Launched on Panchayati Raj Diwas (April 24th, 2020).

  • The scheme seeks 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.
  • The scheme is piloted by the Panchayati Raj ministry.
  • Under the scheme, 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.

InstaLinks:

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.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and significance of the scheme.

Sources: PIB.

 

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

Ways and Means credit:


Context:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to continue with the existing interim Ways and Means Advances (WMA) scheme limit of ₹51,560 crore for all States/ UTs shall for six months i.e., up to September 30, given the prevalence of COVID-19.

Significance of this move:

The increased limit comes at a time when government expenditure is expected to rise as it battles the fallout of a spreading Coronavirus. The availability of these funds will government some room to undertake short term expenditure over and above its long term market borrowings.

What are Ways and Means Advances?

  • They are temporary loan facilities provided by RBI to the government to enable it to meet temporary mismatches between revenue and expenditure.
  • The government makes an interest payment to the central bank when it borrows money.
  • The rate of interest is the same as the repo rate, while the tenure is three months.
  • The limits for WMA are mutually decided by the RBI and the Government of India.
  • States are allowed an overdraft facility (to borrow in excess of WMA limit) of 21 days.

Background:

The WMA scheme for the Central Government was introduced on April 1, 1997, after putting an end to the four-decade old system of adhoc (temporary) Treasury Bills to finance the Central Government deficit.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are ways and means advances?
  2. Types.
  3. Limits.
  4. Interest rate.
  5. Who can avail?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of ways a

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Crew-2 mission:


Context:

Four astronauts were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) from Florida as part of a collaboration between NASA and SpaceX under the Commercial Crew Program.

  • The mission is called Crew-2 and is the second crew rotation of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with international partners.

What will Crew-2 do at the ISS?

  • Members of the mission conduct microgravity studies, investigate food physiology meant to study the effects of dietary improvements on immune function and the gut microbiome and how those improvements can help crews adapt to spaceflight.
  • Their central focus during this time will be to continue a series of Tissue Chips in Space studies. Tissue Chips are small models of human organs that contain multiple cell types that behave similarly to the human body. According to NASA, these chips can potentially speed up the process of identifying safe and effective drugs and vaccines.

What is the Commercial Crew Program?

  • The main objective of this program is to make access to space easier in terms of its cost, so that cargo and crew can be easily transported to and from the ISS, enabling greater scientific research.
  • Through this program, NASA plans to lower its costs by sharing them with commercial partners such as Boeing and SpaceX, and also give the companies incentive to design and build the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS).

Background:

Boeing and SpaceX were selected by NASA in September 2014 to develop transportation systems meant to transfer crew from the US to the ISS.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. NASA’s Commercial crew program- participants.
  2. Space shuttle program.
  3. Demo 1 vs 2 missions.
  4. What is ISS?
  5. Space stations so far.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Border Road Organisation (BRO):

  • Functioning under the control of the Ministry of Defence since 2015, the BRO is engaged in road construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in the border areas of the country.
  • It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.

Leaders’ Summit on Climate 2021:

  • US President Joe Biden hosted a virtual meeting of world leaders titled ‘Leaders’ Summit on Climate’ on the occasion of Earth Day (22nd April).
  • It is a two-day conference and is touted by some as a precursor to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) that will take place later this year in Glasglow.
  • The summit is supposed to “galvanise efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis” and “underscore the urgency – and the economic benefits – of stronger climate action.”

Objectives of the summit:

  1. Get the world’s major economies to reduce emission in this decade while also getting the public and private sector involvement.
  2. Show how climate action can have economic and social benefits. Build new businesses and industries.
  3. Using the technology available to adapt to climate change but also reduce emissions. Use nature-based solutions to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  4. Protect lives and livelihoods by finding ways to adapt to climate change.

Announcements by US:

  1. It was announced that the U.S. would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% by 2030 relative to 2005 levels.
  2. It was also announced that the U.S. would double its annual financing commitments to developing countries by 2024, including a tripling of its adaptation finance by 2024.

National Panchayati Raj Day:

  • The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act came into effect on 24 April 1993 marking the formalisation of the Panchayati Raj system in India.
  • Hence, the day is commemorated as the National Panchayati Raj Day annually in the country.

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