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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 20 September 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. National Trust.

2. Govt relief package for telecom sector.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. How Agri Infra Fund is strengthening primary Agri Co-Op Societies?

2. Isothermal Forging Technology.

3. Pakistan exploiting scope of uranium enrichment in Gilgit Baltistan.

4. Parker Solar Probe.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. G-33.

2. Humboldt penguins.

3. What is a stablecoin?

4. World’s longest expressway between Delhi and Mumbai.

5. General Sherman.


National Trust:

GS Paper 2

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

 

Context:

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment had recently organised meetings with officials and other stakeholders of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh for implementation of National Trust Act, 1999.

 

Background:

This act looks into the welfare of people with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities.

  • The Act also provides for the setting up of the National Trust.

 

About the National Trust:

The National Trust is a statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.

current affairs

 

Objectives:

The objectives of the National Trust in particular are:

  • To enable and empower persons with disability to live as independently and as fully as possible within and as close to their community as possible;
  • To facilitate the realisation of equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of persons with disability;
  • To extend support to its registered organisations to provide need-based services; and
  • To evolve procedures for appointments of guardians and trustees for persons with disabilities.

 

Disabilities under NTA:

The National Trust works for the welfare of persons with any of the following four disabilities:

  1. Autism
  2. Cerebral Palsy
  3. Mental Retardation
  4. Multiple Disabilities

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the National Trust.
  2. Objectives.
  3. Functions.
  4. About the NTA Act, 1999.

Mains Link:

Discuss about the roles and functions of the National Trust.

Sources: PIB.

Govt relief package for telecom sector

GS Paper 2

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

 

telecom sector

Context:

The Union Cabinet, last week, approved a crucial relief package for the cash-strapped telecom firms.

 

What is the relief package?

  • Package includes a four-year moratorium on payment of statutory dues by telecom companies as well as allowing 100% FDI through the automatic route.
  • The wide set of measures proposed entail reforms for the ailing sector by way of granting moratorium on unpaid dues, redefining Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) prospectively and cutting in Spectrum Usage Charges.

 

How does the package help?

  • It provided much needed relaxation to telecom companies Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.
  • These are expected to protect and generate employment opportunities, promote healthy competition, protect interests of consumers, infuse liquidity, encourage investment and reduce regulatory burden on Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).
  • A moratorium on AGR-related dues will offer space to the cash-strapped firm to improve its business and clear dues over a longer period.
  • The definition of AGR has been changed to exclude non-telecom revenue. All non-telecom revenue will be removed from AGR.

current affairs

 

But how did the financial condition of the telcos deteriorate?

Let’s understand this in three simple steps:

  1. It started by and large with the differing legal interpretation of AGR. To understand this, one must go back to 1999, when the government decided to shift from a fixed to a revenue-sharing model for the telecom sector. Telecom players would pay a certain percentage of their AGR, earned from telecom and non-telecom revenues, as licence and spectrum fee.
  2. In 2003, the Department of Telecom (DoT) raised the demand for AGR payments. It said all revenue earned by telcos as dividend from subsidiaries, interest on short-term investments, money deducted as trader discounts, discount for calls and others, which was over and above the revenue from telecom services, would be included for calculation of AGR.
  3. The telcos approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which in July 2006 ruled the matter must be sent back to the regulator TRAI for fresh consultation. TDSAT rejected the government’s contention, and the Centre moved the Supreme Court. While the case was still ongoing, in 2012, the Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecom licences in the 2G scam case. This prompted a revamp, with spectrum now allocated through auctions.

 

What was the Supreme Court verdict?

In 2019, the Supreme Court gave the first verdict in the case, holding that DoT’s definition of AGR was the correct one, and that the telcos must pay the AGR, interest and penalty on non-payment.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know how spectrum auctions are held in India? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is AGR? How is it calculated?
  2. What was SC’s verdict on this?
  3. Composition of TRAI?
  4. How spectrum allocation is done in India?

Mains Link:

Discuss the challenges facing the Indian telecom sector today. What should the Government of India do to save the telecom sector?

Sources: Indian Express.

How Agri Infra Fund is strengthening primary Agri Co-Op Societies?

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.

 

 Co-Op Societies

Context:

One year after its launch, the Central government’s Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) has given a major boost to the strengthening of Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) – the lifelines of village-level credit systems.

  • The Ministry of Agriculture data provided to Rajya Sabha last month reveal that a total of 6,524 projects, at cost of ₹4,503, have been sanctioned under AIF.
  • Out of this, 76 per cent (4,963) of the projects have gone to PACS. This means that 65 per cent of the funds under the scheme have gone to PACS projects.

current affairs

 

Latest modifications:

Recently, The Union Cabinet has approved the various modifications in the Central Sector Scheme of Financing Facility under ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’.

 

  1. Eligibility has now been extended to State Agencies/APMCs, National & State Federations of Cooperatives, Federations of Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) and Federations of Self Help Groups (SHGs).
  2. For APMCs, interest subvention for a loan upto Rs. 2 crore will be provided for each project of different infrastructure types e.g. cold storage, sorting, grading and assaying units, silos, et within the same market yard.
  3. The power has been delegated to the Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to make necessary changes with regard to addition or deletion of beneficiaries.
  4. The period of financial facility has been extended from 4 to 6 years upto 2025-26 and overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 to 13 upto 2032-33.

 

About the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund:

  • It is a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and credit guarantee.
  • Under the scheme, Rs. 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE for loans up to Rs. 2 Crores.

 

Eligible beneficiaries include:

Originally, it included Farmers, Marketing Cooperative Societies, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Start-ups, and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public-Private Partnership Projects.

 

Interest subvention:

All loans under this financing facility will have interest subvention of 3% per annum up to a limit of Rs. 2 crore. This subvention will be available for a maximum period of seven years.

 

Credit guarantee:

  • Credit guarantee coverage will be available for eligible borrowers from this financing facility under Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for a loan up to Rs. 2 crore.
  • The fee for this coverage will be paid by the Government.
  • In case of FPOs the credit guarantee may be availed from the facility created under FPO promotion scheme of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DACFW).

Management of the fund:

  • It will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform.
  • The National, State and District level Monitoring Committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feed-back.

 

Insta Curious:

Have you heard about Asymmetric shock? What is it? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Fund.
  2. What are FPOs?
  3. What are Cooperatives? Constitutional provisions.v
  4. About CGTMSE.
  5. Central sector vs Centrally sponsored schemes.
  6. Core vs core of core schemes.

Sources: the Hindu.

Isothermal Forging Technology:

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Context:

DRDO has developed Critical near Isothermal Forging Technology for aeroengines.

current affairs

 

What is isothermal forging?

Isothermal forging is a closed-die process in which the dies and the workpieces are heated to the same temperature, so that forming can take place without loss of temperature in the workpiece.

  • It’s a preferred process for forming engineered parts, including jet-engine and other aerospace components in high-density lightweight alloys.
  • In this process, the workpiece is formed to shape at a slow rate and at a temperature almost equal to that of the heated die.
  • The long forging time, alongside forces exerted by the die, help to form an almost ‘ready to use’ component needing minimal supplementary machining.

current affairs

Significance:

  • This is a crucial technology for establishing self-reliance in aeroengine technology.
  • With this development, India has joined the league of limited global engine developers to have the manufacturing capabilities of such critical aero engine components.

 

Insta Curious:

What is Quantum key distribution (QKD)? It was recently demonstrated by DRDO. Read about it here.

Sources: PIB.

Pakistan exploiting scope of uranium enrichment in Gilgit Baltistan:

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

 

Context:

In violation of international laws, Pakistan has been exploiting the scope of uranium enrichment in Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan, confirmed locals and political activists from the occupied region.

 

India’s concerns:

Earlier, there were reports that Pakistan has given a free hand to Chinese mining companies to plunder natural resources in Gilgit Baltistan. There are reports that over 2,000 leases for mining of gold, uranium and molybdenum have been illegally awarded to Chinese firms by the Pakistan government in occupied Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

 

What exactly is uranium and what are its uses?

Occurrence: occurs naturally in low concentrations in soil, rock and water and is commercially extracted from uranium-bearing minerals.

 

Applications:

  1. Uranium that has a silvery grey metallic appearance is mainly used in nuclear power plants due to its unique nuclear properties.
  2. Depleted uranium is also used as a shield against radiation in medical processes using radiation therapy and also while transporting radioactive materials.
  3. Though itself radioactive, uranium’s high density makes it effective in halting radiation.
  4. Its high density also makes it useful as counterweights in aircraft and industrial machinery.

 

Uranium Mining In India:

  • In India, Uranium deposits occur in the Dharwar rocks.
  • It occurs along the Singbhum Copper belt (Jharkhand); Udaipur, Alwar and Jhunjhunu districts of Rajasthan, Durg district of Chhattisgarh, Bhandara district of Maharashtra and Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Significant quantities of reserves were recently discovered in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana between Seshachalam forest and Sresailam (Southern edge of Andhra to Southern edge of Telangana).

 

What is the goal of uranium enrichment?

  • Uranium contains a rare radioactive isotope, called U-235, that can be used to power nuclear reactors at low enrichment levels and to fuel nuclear bombs at much higher levels.
  • The goal of uranium enrichment is to raise the percentage levels of U-235, which is often done through the use of centrifuges — machines that spin a form of unrefined uranium at high speeds.

centrifuge

 

Insta Curious:

Recently, the Pakistan government declared Panj Tirath Hindu religious site as national heritage? Why is it significant? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Radioactive vs non radioactive elements.
  2. What is the half life of an element? How is it measured?
  3. Abundance of various elements in earth’s crust.
  4. How does uranium contaminate groundwater?
  5. Uranium limits- BIS vs WHO.

Mains Link:

A recent report has highlighted uranium contamination in India’s groundwater. Discuss the causes, its effects and ways to address the issue?

Sources: the Hindu.

Parker Solar Probe:

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

 

Context:

Scientists using data from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe have assembled the most complete picture yet of the inner structure and behavior of the large cloud of space dust, known as the zodiacal cloud, that swirls throughout the solar system.

 

They found three dust populations in the cloud:

  1. Most of the grains are being slowly pulled in toward the Sun (alpha-meteoroids).
  2. The second population is generated as grains in the swirling cloud collide, creating fragments so small that they are pushed out of the solar system in all directions by pressure from sunlight (beta-meteoroids).
  3. A third group, probably created when a “tube” of cometary debris collides with grains from the first two populations, is scattered out in a distinctive wedge shape.

 

What are zodiacal clouds?

  • The sources of zodiacal clouds/interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) include at least: asteroid collisions, cometary activity and collisions in the inner Solar System, Kuiper belt collisions, and interstellar medium grains.
  • It scatters sunlight in a way that can be seen with the naked eye, but only on very dark, clear nights, as moonlight or light from cities both easily outshine it.
  • Thickest near the sun and thinnest near the edges of the solar system, the zodiacal cloud looks smooth to the naked eye, but infrared wavelengths reveal bright streaks and ribbons that can be traced back to their sources: comets and asteroids.

 

About the mission:

  • NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds.
  • Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.

 

Journey:

In order to unlock the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun.

The spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.

 

Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:

  1. Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
  2. Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
  3. Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Solar Parker Probe.
  2. What are Solar Flares?
  3. Sun’s Corona.
  4. Earth vs Venus.
  5. What are radio waves?

Mains Link:

Discuss how Solar Flares influence earth’s environment.

Sources: ToI.

Facts for Prelims:

G-33:

  • The G33 (or the Friends of Special Products in agriculture) is a coalition of developing countries, established prior to the 2003 Cancun ministerial conference, that have coordinated during the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, specifically in regard to agriculture.
  • There are currently 47 members in the G33.
  • The group has “defensive” concerns regarding agriculture in relation to WTO negotiations, and seeks to limit the degree of market opening required of developing countries.
  • The group has advocated the creation of a “special products” exemption, which would allow developing countries to exempt certain products from tariff reductions, and also a “special safeguard mechanism” which would permit tariff increases in response to import surges.
  • India is a member of this group.

Humboldt penguins:

Last week, Mumbai’s Byculla Zoo announced the addition of two new Humboldt penguin chicks this year. The two join seven adult Humboldt penguins at Byculla Zoo.

  • Humboldt penguins are a medium-sized species among at least 17 species.
  • Humboldt penguins have an average height of just over 2 ft (Among the Species, the Emperor penguin is the largest and stands at over 4 ft tall).
  • The Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) belongs to a genus that is commonly known as the ‘banded’ group (Penguins are divided into six genera).
  • Humboldt penguins are endemic to the Pacific coasts of Chile and Peru.
  • They are so named because their habitat is located near the Humboldt Current, a large oceanic upwelling characterised by cold waters.
  • They are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.

current affairs

What is a stablecoin?

  • A stablecoin is a type of cryptocurrency that is typically pegged to an existing government-backed currency.
  • The majority of the dozens of stablecoins that currently exist use the dollar as their benchmark asset, but many are also pegged to other fiat currencies issued by governments like the euro and yen.
  • As a result, the price of stablecoins fluctuates very little, unlike high-profile cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum that are prone to sudden ups and downs.
  • Stablecoins are useful because they allow people to transact more seamlessly in cryptocurrencies that function as investments, such as Bitcoin. They form a bridge between old-world money and new-world crypto.
  • The first stablecoin, created in 2014, was Tether, which many other stablecoins are modeled after.

 

World’s longest expressway between Delhi and Mumbai:

  • The 1380-km eight-lane expressway — passing through Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat — will reduce travel time between the cities to 12 hours.
  • It will be open in 2023.
  • The eight-lane access-controlled expressway can be expanded to a 12-lane expressway depending on the volume of traffic.
  • Over two million trees and shrubs are planned to be planted along the highway.
  • The expressway is the first in Asia and only the second in the world to feature animal overpasses to facilitate unrestricted movement of wildlife.

 

General Sherman:

  • The General Sherman tree is the world’s largest in terms of volume and exists in the Giant Forest sequoia grove of the national park. As per recent estimates, General Sherman is about 2,200 years old.
  • The tree stands at a height of 275 feet (taller than the leaning tower of Pisa) and has a diameter of 36 feet at the base.
  • It is located in the U.S. state of California.

Why in News?

The tree is threatened by California wildfires.


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