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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 10 June 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. Election Commissioner.

2. Kerala’s Smart Kitchen project.

3. QS World University Rankings 2022.

4. Vaccine nationalism.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Centre announces hike in MSP for paddy, pulses, oilseeds.

2. Legalisation of Bitcoin in El Salvador.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Addu Atoll.

2. Argostemma quarantena.

3. Nagorno-Karabakh region.

4. Indo-Thai CORPAT.

5. Dihing Patkai.


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topics Covered: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Election Commissioner:


Context:

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Anup Chandra Pandey has been appointed as the new Election Commissioner. 

  • The appointment of Pandey will restore the poll panel to its full strength as a three-member commission.

About Election commission of India:

The constitution under article 324 provides for an Election Commission for the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for the conduct of elections to parliament, state legislatures and to the offices of president and vice president.

  • It was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950 (celebrated as national voters’ day).

Composition Election commission of India:

The constitution provides for the following provisions in relation to the composition of the election commission:

  1. The election commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and a such number of other election commissioners, if any, as the president may from time to time fix.
  2. The appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners shall be made by the president.
  3. When any other election commissioner is so appointed the chief election commissioner shall act as the chairman of the election commission.
  4. The president may also appoint after consultation with the election commission such regional commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the election commission.
  5. The conditions of service and tenure of office of the election commissioners and the regional commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule determine.

CEC vs ECs:

Though the Chief Election Commissioner is the chairman of the election commission, however, his powers are equal to the other election commissioners. All the matters in the commission are decided by the majority amongst its members. The Chief Election Commissioner and the two other election commissioners receive equal salary, allowances and other benefits.

Tenure:

The Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners hold office for 6 years or till they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

Removal:

They can resign anytime or can also be removed before the expiry of their term.

The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from his office in the same manner and on same grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court.

Limitations:

  1. The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission.
  2. The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.

 

Insta Curious:

Have you heard of A-WEB(Association of World Election Bodies)? Is India a member ? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Article 243 vs 324, similarities and differences in powers of state election commissions vs Election Commission of India.
  2. Appeals against decisions of Election Commissions.
  3. Elections to Parliament and state legislatures vs Local Bodies.

Mains Link:

Are the State Election Commissions in India as independent as the Election Commission of India? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Kerala’s Smart Kitchen project:


Context:

The Kerala government has announced the introduction of a Smart Kitchen project, which is meant to modernise kitchens and ease the difficulty faced by homemakers in household chores.

About the scheme:

  • To be implemented through the Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE), a state-run chit fund and lending firm.
  • Under the scheme, KSFE would give soft loans to women from all walks of life for purchasing household gadgets or equipment.
  • The interest of the loan/cost would be equally shared among the beneficiary, local self-government body and the state government.

Need for/significance of the scheme;

Gender budgeting: The government believes that for better participation of women in labour, the burden on household chores has to be reduced.

Increase women participation: By enhancing mechanisation in kitchens, women participation in labour could be increased.

 

Insta Curious:

Terminology related to Women Participation and Economy:

Do you know the difference between Glass Cliff and Glass Ceiling? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Key features and significance of the scheme.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to education.

QS World University Rankings 2022:


Context:

Leading global higher education analysts QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) has released the 18th edition of one of the most-consulted international university rankings.

Top 3 in the world:

  1. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology achieved a record-extending 10th consecutive year as world number-one.
  2. The University of Oxford has risen to second for the first time since 2006.
  3. The Stanford University and the University of Cambridge share third spot.

Performance of Indian Institutes:

  1. Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and IIT Delhi remained the three universities from India to rank in the top-200 positions.
  2. The Jawaharlal Nehru University has made its debut in the QS World University Rankings and is placed in the 561-570 band.
  3. Seventeen of India’s 35 universities have seen a rise in their CPF score, against only 12 drops in CPF.
  4. Challenges: However, Indian universities continue to struggle in QS’s measure of institutional teaching capacity. Twenty-three of India’s 35 universities have suffered declines in QS’s faculty/student ratio indicator, with only six recording improvements.
  5. No Indian university ranks among the top 250 in the faculty/student ratio category.

How are institutions ranked?

QS uses six indicators to compile the ranking: Academic reputation (AR), employer reputation (ER), citations per faculty (CPF), faculty/student ratio, international faculty ratio and international student ratio.

 

Insta Curious:

Can you recall the parameters considered by The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) to rank institutions across the country. CHECK HERE

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Performance of Indian Institutions.
  2. When was institutions of eminence scheme launched?
  3. Top 3 institutions worldwide.
  4. Name the 6 indicators used to rank institutions.

Mains Link:

Write a note on institutions of Eminence scheme.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Vaccine nationalism:


Context:

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) president-elect and Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has warned against Vaccine nationalism and said that it would destroy countries’ efforts to eradicate the pandemic and must be avoided “at all costs”.

  • He termed the disparity in vaccination coverage in developed countries and the rest of the world “unacceptable”.

What is vaccine nationalism?

  • Vaccine nationalism occurs when a country manages to secure doses of vaccine for its own citizens or residents before they are made available in other countries.
  • This is done through pre-purchase agreements between a government and a vaccine manufacturer.

How was it used in the past?

Vaccine nationalism is not new. During the early stages of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, some of the wealthiest countries entered into pre-purchase agreements with several pharmaceutical companies working on H1N1 vaccines.

  • At that time, it was estimated that, in the best-case scenario, the maximum number of vaccine doses that could be produced globally was two billion.
  • The US alone negotiated and obtained the right to buy 600,000 doses. All the countries that negotiated pre-purchase orders were developed economies.

Why it’s not good? What are the associated concerns?

  1. Vaccine nationalism is harmful for equitable access to vaccines.
  2. It further disadvantages countries with fewer resources and bargaining power.
  3. It deprives populations in the Global South from timely access to vital public health goods.
  4. Taken to its extreme, it allocates vaccines to moderately at-risk populations in wealthy countries over populations at higher risk in developing economies.

What needs to be done?

Equity entails both, affordability of vaccines and access opportunities for populations across the world, irrespective of geography and geopolitics.

International institutions — including the WHO — should coordinate negotiations ahead of the next pandemic to produce a framework for equitable access to vaccines during public health crises.

What is the way out?

Vaccine Diplomacy: Vaccine diplomacy is the branch of global health diplomacy in which a nation uses the development or delivery of vaccines to strengthen ties with other nations.

India’s vaccine diplomacy:

  • India had earlier supplied hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir and paracetamol tablets, as well as diagnostic kits, ventilators, masks, gloves and other medical supplies to a large number of countries to help them deal with the pandemic.
  • India has also carried out capacity building and training workshops for neighbouring countries.

However, the Centre had imposed in April this year, some restrictions on exports, potentially undoing the goodwill earned earlier by free supply of vaccines to friendly developing countries and by its substantial contribution to the international COVAX programme to supply vaccines to lower-income countries.

 

InstaLinks:

  1. Do you know the difference between Passive immunization and Active immunization? Read Here
  2. Have you heard about Herd Immunity? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is vaccine nationalism?
  2. Which drugs are being used in the treatment of COVID 19 disease?
  3. Various tests to detect SARS- COV 2.
  4. What is H1N1?

Mains Link:

What is Vaccine Nationalism? What are the concerns associated? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Centre announces hike in MSP for paddy, pulses, oilseeds:


Context:

The Central government has hiked the minimum support price (MSP) for common paddy, pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals.

  • The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs

What is MSP?

The MSP is the rate at which the government purchases crops from farmers, and is based on a calculation of at least one-and-a-half times the cost of production incurred by the farmers.

  • The Union Budget for 2018-19 had announced that MSP would be kept at levels of 1.5 the cost of production.
  • The MSP is fixed twice a year on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), which is a statutory body and submits separate reports recommending prices for kharif and rabi seasons.

Which production costs are taken in fixing the MSPs?

The CACP considers both ‘A2+FL’ and ‘C2’ costs while recommending MSP.

  1. A2 costs cover all paid-out expenses, both in cash and kind, incurred by farmers on seeds, fertilisers, chemicals, hired labour, fuel and irrigation, among others.
  2. A2+FL covers actual paid-out costs plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.
  3. The C2 costs account for the rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets respectively, on top of A2+FL.

The limitations of MSP:

  1. The major problem with the MSP is lack of government machinery for procurement for all crops except wheat and rice, which the Food Corporation of India actively procures under the PDS.
  2. As state governments procure the last mile grain, the farmers of states where the grain is procured completely by the government benefit more while those in states that procure less are often affected.
  3. The MSP-based procurement system is also dependent on middlemen, commission agents and APMC officials, which smaller farmers find difficult to get access to.

 

InstaCurious:

Concept related to Agriculture & Agroforestry:

  1. Do you know what Silvopasture is? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Composition of CCEA.
  2. What is CACP?
  3. How many crops are covered under the MSP scheme?
  4. Who announces MSP?
  5. Difference between Kharif and Rabi crops.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Legalisation of Bitcoin in El Salvador:


Context:

El Salvador, a small coastal country in Central America, has become the first in the world to make Bitcoin legal.

Rationale behind this move:

  1. El Salvador depends heavily on remittances sent by Salvadorians from abroad (making up more than 20% of the GDP). However, much of this is lost to intermediaries. By using Bitcoin, the amount received by more than a million low income families will increase in the equivalent of billions of dollars every year.
  2. Besides, Bitcoin will help increase financial inclusion in El Salvador, where 70% of the population does not have a bank account and relies on the informal economy.

Please note:

El Salvador has not had its own monetary policy since 2001, when a right-wing government made the US dollar the official currency. Along with Ecuador and Panama, El Salvador is currently among three nations in Latin America to have a ‘dollarized economy.

Criticisms of the move:

Legalizing bitcoin in the absence of a central regulating authority will have potential for fraud and money laundering, high energy costs and extreme volatility.

Is there a move to adopt virtual currencies globally?

In many parts of the world that are plagued by economic uncertainties, the use of cryptocurrencies is fast gathering pace, such as in Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico, where many are preferring virtual tokens that are decentralised and unregulated.

How such legalisation may not work well for India?

El Salvador has no monetary policy of its own and hence, no local currency to protect. It runs on the monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve. Therefore, any changes in Federal Reserve policies will definitely affect the Country. Hence, it is looking at such alternatives.

  • But, this is not the case with India. India has its own currency and a central bank. Therefore, coexistence of bitcoin and rupee side by side becomes difficult.

India’s response to Cryptocurrencies:

In India, the government has floated The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, which will prohibit all private cryptocurrencies and lay down the regulatory framework for the launch of an “official digital currency”.

  • It was to be introduced in Parliament’s Budget session earlier this year, but was held up as the government continues discussions with stakeholders.

Conclusion:

Overall takeaway for India from the El Salvador case- This might become an example of how far countries are willing to go to attract innovators and entrepreneurs working on this emerging sector. This is the wealth that India has in spades and has barely protected with policy.

While deliberations continue in India on the monetary and financial regulations around cryptocurrency, it is important that attention be paid to incentives for India’s developers working on key innovations in the space.

 

Insta Curious: 

  1. Do you know what Bitcoin Maximalism is? Read Here
  2. Do you know what IOTA Tangle is? Read here (briefly)

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Various cryptocurrencies.
  2. Cryptocurrencies launched by various countries.
  3. What is Blockchain technology?

Mains Link:

What are Cryptocurrencies? Why there is a need for regulation? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Addu Atoll:

  • Located in Maldives.
  • Apart from its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, Addu is the second largest city in the archipelago, home to over 30,000 people.

Why in News?

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has said that the Maldives has made no decision on opening an Indian consulate in its southern Addu Atoll.

 

Argostemma quarantena:

  • It is a new plant species belonging to the coffee family.
  • It was recently spotted in Wagamon hills in Kerala.
  • It has been named Argostemma quarantena to commemorate the millions who have died in the pandemic.

Nagorno-Karabakh region:

  • Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, but its population is majority Armenian. As the Soviet Union saw increasing tensions in its constituent republics in the 1980s, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to become part of Armenia – sparking a war which stopped with a ceasefire in 1994.
  • Since then, Nagorno-Karabakh has remained part of Azerbaijan but is controlled by separatist ethnic Armenians backed by the Armenian government.

Context:

A brief war took place last year in a region recaptured in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh.

  • Azerbaijan seized back swathes of territory in the separatist ethnic Armenia region with the help of Turkish combat drones and other weaponry from Ankara.
  • The conflict claimed 6,000 lives and ended with a Russian-brokered truce in November that saw ethnic Armenians pushed out of large parts of the land they had won during a brutal post-Soviet war in the 1990s.

 

Indo-Thai CORPAT:

The 31st edition of the India-Thailand Coordinated Patrol (Indo-Thai CORPAT) between the Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy is being held.

 

Dihing Patkai:

  • Dihing Patkai is Assam’s 7th National Park.
  • Assam now has the third most National Parks after the 12 in Madhya Pradesh and nine in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • It has 47 species each of reptiles and mammals, including tiger and clouded leopard.
  • National Paks in Assam: Kaziranga, Manas, Nameri, Orang, Dibru-Saikhowa and Raimona National Park. Kaziranga and Manas are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are also tiger reserves along with Nameri and Orang.
  • Raimona adjoins the Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal to its west, Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan to its north and the first addition to Manas National Park to the east.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. U.S. Senate passes huge innovation Bill.
  2. Cabinet approves 5 MHz spectrum for Railways.

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