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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 31 July 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. The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021.

2. Delta variant as contagious as chicken pox.

3. Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana.

4. 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. AERA Amendment Bill, 2021.

2. Strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) programme.

3. The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Odisha plans DNA profiling for leopards.

2. INRA NAVY.


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021:


Context:

The Bill which was introduced in Lok Sabha recently would pave the way for the government to divest its stake in general insurance firms.

  • Opposition members have however strongly objected to it and called for its withdrawal.

 

Key Provisions:

  1. It proposes amending the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 to remove the requirement for the Centre to hold at least 51 percent of equity in an insurer.
  2. Another provision ensures that the 1972 Act stops applying to insurers on and from the date the Centre ceases to have control over them.
  3. The Bill also makes a director, who is not a whole-time director, liable only for acts of omission or commission committed with his knowledge and connivance by the insurer.

 

Rationale behind these changes:

While India’s insurance sector has been growing dynamically in recent years, its share in the global insurance market remains abysmally low. The Bill aims to provide for greater private participation in the public sector insurance companies.

 

Criticisms/concerns:

  1. This may lead to total privatisation of general insurance companies.
  2. With this, the government will also lose money by way of dividend in the proportion of shares being offered.

 

Challenges in the Insurance sector:

  1. Low penetration and density rates.
  2. Inadequate investment in insurance products.
  3. The dominant position and deteriorating financial health of public-sector players.

 

Important changes witnessed by the insurance sector over the years include:

  1. Nationalisation of life (LIC Act 1956) and non-life sectors (GIC Act 1972).
  2. Constitution of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) in 1999.
  3. Opening up of the sector to both private and foreign players in 2000.
  4. Increase in the foreign investment caps.

 

Insta Curious:

Have you heard of Hindusthan Insurance Society? Who founded it? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Bill.
  2. Key Provisions.
  3. Comparison with the old law.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the bill.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Delta variant as contagious as chicken pox:


Context:

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) has revealed that:

  • The Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads as easily as chickenpox with a transmission rate up to nine times more than the original strain.
  • Breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals may be as transmissible as unvaccinated cases.
  • Infection with the Delta variant produces virus amounts in the airways that are tenfold higher than what is seen in people infected with the Alpha variant, which is also highly contagious.

 

What is a Virus Variant?

Variants of a virus have one or more mutations that differentiate it from the other variants that are in circulation. While most mutations are deleterious for the virus, some make it easier for the virus to survive.

  • The SARS-CoV-2 (Corona) virus is evolving fast because of the scale at which it has infected people around the world. High levels of circulation mean it is easier for the virus to change as it is able to replicate faster.

 

What is a mutation?

  • A mutation means a change in the genetic sequence of the virus.
  • In the case of SARS-CoV-2, which is an Ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged.
  • A mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.

 

What is Delta Variant?

The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) was first detected in India. The variant contains multiple mutations in the spike protein.

 

Insta Curious:

Delta Variant is classified as a Variant of Concern (VOC)? How is such classification made? Who does it? Reference

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Covid 19?
  2. What is mutation?
  3. What is mRNA?
  4. What is RT- PCR test?
  5. What is genome sequencing?

Mains Link:

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

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population.

Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana:


Context:

The government has said that under the schemes implemented by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW) at least 30 percent of the expenditure allocated for agricultural schemes is being incurred for women to bring them into mainstream agriculture. This mainly includes Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana.

 

About Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana:

  • It was started in 2011.
  • The “Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana” (MKSP) is a sub component of the Deendayal Antodaya Yojana-NRLM (DAY-NRLM).
  • It seeks to improve the present status of women in Agriculture, and to enhance the opportunities available to empower her.
  • MKSP recognizes the identity of “Mahila” as “Kisan” and strives to build the capacity of women in the domain of agro-ecologically sustainable practices.
  • Upto 60% (90% for North Eastern States) of the funding support for such projects is provided by the government.

 

The focus of MKSP is on:

Capacitating smallholders to adopt sustainable climate resilient agro-ecology and eventually create a pool of skilled community professionals.

 

Need for feminization of agriculture:

Most of the women-headed households are not able to access extension services, farmers support institutions and production assets like seed, water, credit, subsidy etc. As agricultural workers, women are paid lower wage than men.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the International Day of Rural Women is celebrated on October 15 every year? What are its objectives and historical significance? Reference

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Key features of the scheme.
  2. Implementation.
  3. Benefits.

Mains Link:

Discuss the problems faced by women farmers in India. Also discuss how those problems could be solved.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Important international institutions.

Arctic Science Ministerial:


Click here

Context:

Information regarding India’s participation in the 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial (ASM3) was recently given in Parliament by the Government.

  • It was jointly organised by Iceland and Japan and is the first Ministerial meeting held in Asia.

 

The theme for this year is ‘Knowledge for a Sustainable Arctic’.

Background:

  • The first two meetings—ASM1 and ASM2—were held in the USA in 2016 and Germany in 2018, respectively.
  • The meetings are designed to provide opportunities to various stakeholders to enhance collective understanding of the Arctic region, emphasize and engage in constant monitoring, and strengthen observations.

 

Need for international collaboration and cooperation in maintaining the Arctic region:

Arctic warming and its ice melt are global concerns as they play a pivotal role in regulating climate, sea levels, and maintaining biodiversity. Moreover, there is growing evidence of connection between the Arctic and the Indian Ocean (which modulates the Indian monsoon).

Hence, improving the understanding of physical processes and quantifying the impact of Arctic ice melt on the Indian summer monsoon is very important.

 

India and the Arctic:

  • India’s engagement with the Arctic dates back to 1920 with the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in Paris.
  • Since July 2008, India has had a permanent research station in the Arctic called Himadri at NyAlesund, Svalbard Area in Norway.
  • It has also deployed a multi-sensor moored observatory called IndARC in the Kongsfjorden fjord since July 2014.

 

India’s contributions further in Arctic:

  • The country would deploy open ocean mooring in the Arctic for long-term monitoring of upper ocean variables and marine meteorological parameters.
  • The launch of NISER (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite mission, in collaboration with the USA, is underway. NISER aims to conduct global measurements of the cause and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.
  • India’s contributions to the Sustained Arctic Observational Network (SAON) are continuing.

 

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About ASM- objectives and meetings.
  2. About SAON.
  3. What is NISER?
  4. About the Arctic Council.
  5. About NCPOR.
  6. What is IndARC?
  7. About India’s permanent research station in the Arctic.

Mains Link:

Discuss the strategic significance of Arctic region.

Sources: PIB.


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- airways.

AERA Amendment Bill, 2021:


Context:

The Lok Sabha passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) Amendment Bill, 2021 and seeks to amend the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008.

 

Background:

The 2008 Act established the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA).  AERA regulates tariffs and other charges (such as airport development fees) for aeronautical services rendered at major airports in India.

 

What are the new provisions?

  1. The 2008 Act designates an airport as a major airport if it has annual passenger traffic of at least 35 lakh. As per the Bill, the central government may also designate any airport as a major airport by a notification.
  2. It will allow AERA to regulate tariff and other charges for aeronautical services for not just major airports with annual passenger traffic of more than 35 lakh, but also a group of airports.
  3. Profitable Clubbing: The government will be able to club profitable and non-profitable airports as a combination/package to bidders to make it a viable combination for investment under PPP (Public-Private Partnership) mode.

 

Need for reforms:

  • Typically, airports run the risk of becoming a monopoly because cities usually have one civilian airport which controls all aeronautical services in that area.
  • To ensure that private airport operators do not misuse their monopoly, the need for an independent tariff regulator in the airport sector was felt.

 

Benefits of the new legislation:

  1. Helps in improving and expanding the air connectivity to relatively remote areas expediting the UDAN regional connectivity scheme.
  2. Encourages the development of smaller airports.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Highlights of the Bill.
  2. Powers of the Central Government.
  3. About AERA.
  4. About AAI.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and significance of the Bill.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- energy.

Strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) programme:


Click here

Context:

Two more commercial-cum-strategic facilities at Chandikhol and Padur of 6.5 MM storage capacity to be established under phase-2 of SPR Programme. M

 

Background:

Under Phase I of strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) programme, Government of India, through its Special Purpose Vehicle, Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Limited (ISPRL), has established petroleum storage facilities with total capacity of 5.33 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) at 3 locations, namely (i) Vishakhapatnam (ii) Mangaluru and (iii) Padur.

 

About the SPR Programme:

Strategic petroleum reserves are huge stockpiles of crude oil to deal with any crude oil-related crisis like the risk of supply disruption from natural disasters, war or other calamities.

  • The petroleum reserves are strategic in nature and the crude oil stored in these reserves will be used during an oil shortage event, as and when declared so by the Government of India.
  • The construction of the Strategic Crude Oil Storage facilities is being managed by Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL), a Special Purpose Vehicle, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

 

Need for strategic oil reserves:

  1. In 1990, as the Gulf war engulfed West Asia, India was in the throes of a major energy crisis. By all accounts India’s oil reserves at the time were adequate for only three days. While India managed to avert the crisis then, the threat of energy disruption continues to present a real danger even today.
  2. To address energy insecurity, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government mooted the concept of strategic petroleum reserves in 1998. Today, with Indian Consumption increasing, the case for creating such reserves grows stronger.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About SPR Programme.
  2. Locations.
  3. Implementation.

Mains Link:

To address energy insecurity, the government of India had mooted the concept of strategic petroleum reserves in 1998. At present the demand for the same is growing stronger with each passing day. Discuss why such reserve is needed.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.

The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021:


Context:

The Bill was recently introduced in Lok Sabha. The focus is on better coordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the air quality index.

  • The bill will establish the commission and replace an ordinance.
  • The Bill has taken into consideration the concerns of the farmers following several rounds of negotiations, after they had raised concerns of stiff penalties and possible jail terms for stubble burning.

 

Applicability:

The bill will apply to the NCR and the areas adjoining the NCR in the States of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, where any source of pollution is located, causing adverse impact on air quality in the NCR.

 

What is proposed in the Bill?

The bill provides for the constitution of:

  1. The commission for air quality management in NCR and adjoining areas.
  2. Three sub-committees to assist the commission, including sub-committee on monitoring and identification; sub-committee on safeguarding and enforcement; and sub-committee on research and development.

 

Need for the Bill:

Sources of air pollution particularly in the NCR consist of a variety of factors which are beyond the local limits. Therefore, a special focus is required on all sources of air pollution which are associated with different economic sectors, including power, agriculture, transport, industry, residential and construction.

  • Since air pollution is not a localised phenomenon, the effect is felt in areas even far away from the source, thus creating the need for regional-level initiatives through inter-State and inter-city coordination in addition to multi-sectorial synchronisation.

 

About the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM):

The Commission was first formed by an ordinance in October 2020.

The erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA had been dissolved to make way for the Commission.

  • 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.

 

Composition:

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

 

Powers and functions:

  1. It will have the powers to issue directions to these state governments on issues pertaining to air pollution.
  2. It will entertain complaints as it deems necessary for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the air in the NCR and adjoining areas.
  3. It will also lay down parameters for control of air pollution.
  4. It will also be in charge of identifying violators, monitoring factories and industries and any other polluting unit in the region, and will have the powers to shut down such units.
  5. It will also have the powers to overrule directives issued by the state governments in the region, that may be in violation of pollution norms.

 

Other key provisions of the bill:

  1. It has decriminalised the act of stubble burning and withdrawn the clause for possible jail time.
  2. It proposed to levy environmental compensation fees on those who are found to be engaged in stubble burning, including farmers.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about Pusa, a stubble burning solution? Reference

 

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 Bill, 2021.

Mains Link:

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

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Odisha plans DNA profiling for leopards:

  • Odisha’s Forest and Environment Department has decided to do DNA profiling of the leopards in the state.
  • The exercise will help ascertain and trace the origin in case of deaths of the leopards, after the skin and other organs from poachers and traders are seized.
  • The system will strengthen the fight against wildlife crimes, especially poaching of leopards.

 

INRA NAVY:

  • The 12th edition of exercise INRA NAVY was held in the Baltic Sea.
  • INDRA NAVY is a biennial bilateral maritime exercise between Indian Navy and Russian Navy.
  • Initiated in 2003, Ex INDRA NAVY epitomises the long-term strategic relationship between the two navies.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Juvenile justice Bill.

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