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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 16 December 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

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

1. Durga Puja inscribed on UNESCO’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ list.

2. Salar Masud-Raja Suhaldev battle.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Special status for Bihar.

2. RBI allows Payments Banks, SFBs to conduct Govt agency business.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. RBI introduces prompt corrective action framework for NBFCs.

2. Parker Solar Probe.

3. Why India, Russia blocked move to take climate change to UNSC?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Raja Chait Singh.

2. Rani Bhabani.

3. SGTF Test Kits.


Durga Puja inscribed on UNESCO’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ list:

GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered: Indian art and culture.

 

Durga Puja inscribed on UNESCO’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ list:

Context:

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has inscribed ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 

Implications:

This inscription will offer encouragement to the local communities that celebrate Durga Puja, including all the traditional craftspeople, designers, artists, and organizers of large-scale cultural events, as well as tourists and visitors who partake in the inclusive festivity that is Durga Puja.

 

About Durga Puja:

Durga Puja is a five-day festival which begins on the fifth night of the nine-day Navratri festival and ends on the tenth day, which is Dashami. During this time, people collectively worship and invoke Goddess Durga, who is regarded as the feminine energy of the cosmos, also known as ‘Shakti’.

  • Though originating in West Bengal, which has the largest Bengali community in the country, the festival is celebrated in many other parts of India, and also the world.
  • Many regard it as an emotion more than a festival.
  • It is a classic fusion of religion and culture.

Current Affairs

 

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?

UNESCO says, Intangible Cultural Heritage includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

  • UNESCO established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance.
  • The list was established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect.

 

As of 2010 the programme compiles two lists:

  1. The longer, Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, comprises cultural “practices and expressions [that] help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance.”
  2. The shorter, List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, is composed of those cultural elements that concerned communities and countries consider to require urgent measures to keep them alive.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that there is something called the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Which are the elements of India that have already been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity?
  2. What is UNESCO?
  3. Difference between tangible and intangible heritages?
  4. Eligibility criteria?
  5. Lists under UNESCO “Intangible Cultural Heritage” banner?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Sources: Indian Express.

Salar Masud-Raja Suhaldev battle:

GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered: Indian History- important events and personalities.

 

Context:

Speaking at the inaugural event of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham Corridor in Varanasi, PM Modi referred to the battle between Salar Masud and Raja Suhaldev.

 

Who was Salar Masud?

  • Salar Masud was also known as Ghazi Mian. He acquired popularity as a warrior in the 12th century.
  • He was the nephew of the 11th century Turkik invader, Mahmud of Ghazni.
  • His tomb at Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh stands as a place of pilgrimage for a large number of Muslims as well as Hindus.
  • He accompanied Mahmud in all his campaigns, including the celebrated expedition to Somnath in Kathiawar. It was Masud who supposedly persuaded his uncle to demolish the famous idol of Somnath – a deed repeatedly glorified as a great feat in Persian poetry.
  • The most comprehensive source of information about Ghazi Mian is the Mirat-e-Masaud (Mirror of Masaud), a 17th century Persian hagiography written by Abdur Rahman Chisti, a Sufi saint of the Chisti order.
  • Mughal emperor Akbar is known to have made a land grant in 1571 CE for the sake of maintaining Ghazi Miyan’s shrine.

 

Salar Masud and Raja Suhaldev:

It is a mix of history and myth.

As per the records, at Bahraich, in the course of a battle in 1034 CE Masud and a local king by the name Suhaldev came face to face.

During the battle, Masud was wounded by an arrow and succumbed.

Since he died fulfilling his duties as a warrior, he became a martyr and earned the honorary nickname ‘Ghazi Miyan’ or master warrior for faith.

 

Raja Suhaldev:

Suhaldev is believed to have been the eldest son of the king of the Bhar community, from which emerged the Pasi community, a Dalit caste group of the region.

  • Popular history of the region identifies him by several names including Suhaldev, Sakardev, Sahardev, and Suhildev. In contemporary print culture, however, he is referred to as Raja Suhaldev.

current affairs

 

Controversy surrounding these personalities:

  • Few people who worshipped Ghazi Mian, perceive Suhaldev as the king of a local tribe, a tyrant and oppressor of the people he ruled over, most of whom were Muslims.
  • However, he is also being given a warring identity and projected as a saviour who fought against a foreign invader (Ghazi Mian) who tried to despoil Hindu- or synonymously Indian- religion and culture.

Today, celebrations are being carried out in memory of Maharaja Suhaldev.

  • In February 2016, then BJP president Amit Shah hailed Suhaldev as a national hero and unveiled his statue at Bahraich.
  • The Indian Railways started the Suhaldev Express from Ghazipur.
  • In 2017 the Uttar Pradesh government announced its plans to install a statue of Suhaldev at Lucknow.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Raja Suheldev.
  2. Muhammad of Ghazni.
  3. Bhar community.
  4. Parsi.
  5. Ghazi Miyan.

Mains Link:

Who was Raja Suheldev? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

Special status for Bihar:

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Special status for Bihar:

Context:

Nitish Kumar has again raised his nearly 15-year-old demand for the status of special category state (SCS) for Bihar. Nitish has been seeking SCS for Bihar since at least 2007.

 

Bihar’s development vis-a-vis other states:

  • The latest report of the NITI Aayog puts Bihar among the bottom states in terms of growth rate and human development indices.
  • Bihar’s annual per capita income of Rs 50,735 lags the national figure of Rs 1,34,432 by a significant distance.
  • According to the report, 51.91 per cent of the state’s population — the highest in the country — lives below the poverty line.
  • Bihar is also doing badly in terms of school dropouts, child malnourishment, maternal health, and infant mortality.

Current Affairs

 

What is Special Category Status?

  • There is no provision of SCS in the Constitution; the Central government extends financial assistance to states that are at a comparative disadvantage against others.
  • This classification was done on the recommendations of the Fifth Finance Commission in 1969.

It was based on the Gadgil formula. The parameters for SCS were:

  1. Hilly Terrain;
  2. Low Population Density And/Or Sizeable Share of Tribal Population;
  3. Strategic Location along Borders With Neighbouring Countries;
  4. Economic and Infrastructure Backwardness; and
  5. Nonviable Nature of State finances.

 

Some prominent guidelines for getting SCS status:

  1. Must be economically backward with poor infrastructure.
  2. The states must be located in hilly and challenging terrain.
  3. They should have low population density and significant tribal population.
  4. Should be strategically situated along the borders of neighboring countries.

 

Who grants SCS status?

Special Category Status for plan assistance was granted in the past by the National Development Council to the States that are characterized by a number of features necessitating special consideration.

  • Now, it is done by the central government.

 

Benefits:

Besides tax breaks and other benefits, the State with SCS will get 90% of all the expenditure on Centrally sponsored schemes as Central grant. The rest of the 10% will also be given as a loan at zero percent interest.

 

Concerns associated:

Considering special status to any new State will result in demands from other States and dilute the benefits further. It is also not economically beneficial for States to seek special status as the benefits under the current dispensation are minimal. Therefore, States facing special problems will be better off seeking a special package.

 

Present scenario:

The 14th Finance Commission has done away with the ‘special category status’ for states, except for the Northeastern and three hill states.

  • Instead, it suggested that the resource gap of each state be filled through ‘tax devolution’, urging the Centre to increase the states’ share of tax revenues from 32% to 42%, which has been implemented since 2015.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Special Category status.
  2. 14th Finance Commission.
  3. Finance Commission.
  4. Gadgil Formula.

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues surrounding the grant of Special Category Status to states.

Sources: Indian Express.

RBI allows Payments Banks, SFBs to conduct Govt agency business:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Government policies and issues arising out of it.

 

Context:

RBI allows Payments Banks, Small Finance Banks to conduct Govt agency business.

 

Power of accrediting an agency bank:

The choice of accrediting an agency bank (including scheduled private sector agency bank) for any particular government agency business rests solely with the concerned Central Government Departments /State Governments.

 

Implications:

  • The Bank can now participate in government and other large corporations issued Request for Proposals (RFP), primary auctions, fixed-rate and variable rate repos, and reverse repos, along with participation in Marginal Standing Facility.
  • Also, the bank would now also be eligible to partner in government-run financial inclusion schemes.

What are Small Finance Banks?

  • Small finance banks are financial institutions that provide financial services to the country’s underserved and unbanked areas.
  • They are registered as a public limited company under the Companies Act, 2013.
  • These banks, like other commercial banks, can engage in all basic banking activities, such as lending and accepting deposits.
  • The NachiketMor committee on financial inclusion suggested SFBs.
  • Small Finance Banks can’t extend big loans. Cannot float subsidiaries or trade in high-tech products.

 

What are Payments bank?

Payment banks were established to promote financial inclusion by offering; ‘modest savings accounts and payments/remittance services to migratory labour workforce, low-income households, small enterprises, other unorganised sector entities, and other users.’

  • These banks can accept a restricted deposit, which is now capped at Rs 200,000 per person but could be raised in the future.
  • These banks are unable to provide loans or credit cards. Banks of this type can handle both current and savings accounts.
  • Payments banks can provide ATM and debit cards, as well as online and mobile banking.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Payment Banks.
  2. About SFBs.
  3. SFBs vs PBs.
  4. On-tap licensing.
  5. Scheduled Commercial banks.

Sources: the Hindu.

RBI introduces prompt corrective action framework for NBFCs:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising out of it.

 

Context:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has introduced the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).

  • The PCA framework for NBFCs will come into effect on October 1,2022 on the basis of their financial position on or after March 31.

 

What is PCA framework?

The objective of the framework is to enable supervisory intervention at the appropriate time and require the supervised entity to initiate and implement remedial measures in a timely manner, to restore its financial health

 

Applicability:

  • The framework will be applicable to all deposit-taking non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), all non-deposit taking NBFCs in the middle, upper and top layers including investment and credit companies, core investment companies, infrastructure debt funds, infrastructure finance companies and microfinance institutions.
  • However, it has excluded NBFCs not accepting/not intending to accept public funds, primary dealers and housing finance companies along with government-owned ones.

 

Indicators based on which PCA will be invoked for NBFC:

The central bank will track three indicators — capital to risk-weighted assets ratio (CRAR), Tier I ratio and net non-performing assets (NNPAs) including non-performing investments (NPIs).

  • In the case of core investment companies (CICs), the RBI will track adjusted net worth/aggregate risk-weighted assets, leverage ratio and NNPAs, including NPIs.
  • A breach in any of the three risk thresholds under the above-mentioned indicators could result in invocation of PCA.

 

Need for:

The PCA Framework for NBFCs has been brought after four big finance firms — IL&FS, DHFL, SREI and Reliance Capital — which collected public funds through fixed deposits and non-convertible debentures collapsed in the last three years despite the tight monitoring in the financial sector. They collectively owe over Rs 1 lakh crore to investors.

 

What will happen once the PCA is invoked for an NBFC?

  • Based on the risk threshold, the RBI may prescribe mandatory corrective actions such as restriction on dividend distribution/remittance of profits, requiring promoters /shareholders to infuse equity and reducing leverage.
  • The RBI can also restrict the issuance of guarantees or take other contingent liabilities on behalf of group companies(only for CICs).
  • Further, the central bank may also restrict branch expansion, impose curbs on capital expenditure other than for technological up-gradation within board-approved limits and restrict/ directly reduce variable operating costs.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that RBI had introduced a PCA framework for scheduled commercial banks in 2002?

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About PCA.
  2. About Core Investment Companies.
  3. What are NBFCs?
  4. About RBI and its powers.
  5. What is CRAR?

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for having a PCA Framework for NBFCs.

Sources: the Hindu.

Parker Solar Probe:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

 

Context:

The Parker Solar Probe, launched by NASA, has become the first spacecraft to fly through the outer atmosphere of the Sun- ‘Corona’.

  • The spacecraft flew through Corona and sampled magnetic fields and particles there.

 

Significance:

The achievement would help scientists discover critical information about the sun and its influence on our solar system.

Current affairs

 

About the mission:

Launched in 2018, 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.

 

Why study corona?

The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun. The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth. Nasa hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment.

 

Insta Curious:

What is Magnetic Reconnection with respect to the sun’s surface? Reference 

 

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: the Hindu.

Why India, Russia blocked move to take climate change to UNSC?

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Conservation and Pollution related issues.

 

Context:

India and Russia have blocked a proposal that would have allowed the UN Security Council to deliberate on climate-related issues.

 

What’s the issue?

The draft resolution, piloted by Ireland and Niger, sought to create a formal space in the Security Council for discussions on climate change and its implications on international security.

  • It also asked that the UN Secretary-General provide periodic reports on how risks from climate change can be addressed to prevent conflicts.

 

What has India said?

India is second to none when it comes to climate action and climate justice. But UNSC is not the place to discuss either issue. In fact, an attempt to do so appears to be motivated by a desire to evade responsibility in the appropriate forum and divert the world’s attention from an unwillingness to deliver where it counts.

 

Concerns over the proposal:

  • Billing climate change as a threat to international security diverts the council’s attention from genuine, deep-rooted reasons of conflict in the countries on the Council’s agenda.
  • Securitising climate change would be largely convenient to countries that were actively helping engender conflicts or waged military activities in diversion from the Security Council’s mandate or simply don’t want to provide the necessary help to developing countries.
  • Action taken as part of the resolution can potentially range from sanctions on fossil-rich countries to UN military intervention in domestic conflicts perceived to have been caused by climate change.

 

What next?

The UN already has a specialized agency, the UNFCCC, for discussing all matters related to climate change.

  • The parties to the UNFCCC — over 190 countries — meet several times every year, including at a two-week year-ending conference like the one at Glasgow, to work on a global approach to combat climate change.
  • It is this process that has given rise to the Paris Agreement, and its predecessor the Kyoto Protocol, the international instrument that is designed to respond to the climate change crisis.

Sources: the Hindu.

Facts for Prelims:

Raja Chait Singh:

Context: Cited by Modi in his Kashi speech.

  • By the late 18th century, Benaras had declared independence from the Nawab of Awadh.
  • In 1771, Maharaja Chait Singh succeeded to the throne of Banaras with the help of British authorities.
  • Two years later, the Maharaja transferred the domain to the East India Company under the control of Hastings.
  • When faced with the need for resources to fight the Mysore War against Hyder Ali, Hastings pressed Maharaja Chait Singh to make additional revenue payments and supply troops in 1778 and 1779.
  • When Singh failed to comply, Hastings marched to Benaras with his troops to confront the king.
  • Several of Hastings’ men were killed in the conflict and, left with no other option, the governor-general was forced to retreat.

Popular narrative goes that he left hurriedly at night for the nearby Chunar Fort riding an elephant. The incident is believed to have given rise to the popular saying in Banaras: “Ghode par haudah, hathi par jeen, Kashi se bhaga Warren Hastings”.

Current Affairs

 

Rani Bhabani:

In his speech, Modi highlighted the role of Rani Bhabani from Bengal in the development of the city.v

  • Bhabani was married to Raja Ramkanta Ray, the zamindar of the Natore estate in Rajshahi (present day Bangladesh). After the death of her husband in 1748, the zamindari passed on to the hands of Bhabani, making her one among the very few women zamindars of the time.

Contributions:

  • Bhabani is remembered most for her philanthropic efforts.
  • Built several schools across Rajshahi district and offered a number of scholarships.
  • Built more than 350 temples and guesthouses across different parts of the country, and invested heavily in roadways and water tanks.
  • Built the Durga Kund Mandir in Varanasi.
  • In 1755 she built a complex consisting of a dozen temples in Baronagar in Murshidabad.

 

SGTF Test Kits:

Formally known as the S-gene Target Failure (SGTF) test, this proxy test can be used for early detection of Omicron.

The test detects the absence of the S-gene, which is an indicator of the presence of Omicron variant in a Covid positive patient.

S gene is not present in the Omicron variant. This is the result of the multiple mutations that the variant has undergone and is a marker to identify the variant


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