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. Special Category Status.
2. UAE golden visa.
GS Paper 3:
1. National Mathematics Day.
2. Flex Fuel Vehicles.
3. Bottom Trawling.
Facts for Prelims:
1. P.N. Panicker.
3. Olive Ridley Turtles.
4. UNSC Resolution 2615.
5. Pralay Missile.
6. Vernacular Innovation Program.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
The government has informed the Lok Sabha that it has extended a special package in lieu of the Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh.
- An amount of ₹19,846.199 crore under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
- As per the recommendations of the respective Finance Commissions, Revenue Deficit Grant of ₹22,112 crore for 2015-20 and ₹5,897 crore for 2020-21 had been released.
The special assistance measure would make up for the additional Central share the State might have received during 2015-16 to 2019-20, if the funding of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) would have been shared at the ratio of 90:10 between the Centre and the State.
What’s the issue?
Andhra Pradesh has revived its demand for Special Category Status (SCS).
- It was the bifurcation promise and 15th Finance Commission report that stated that ‘grant of SCS lies in the hands of the Centre’. SCS was promised to Andhra Pradesh by the then Congress government at the Centre in 2014, at the time of bifurcation which resulted in the formation of Telangana.
- The then Opposition party BJP too agreed to it and even stated that SCS would be extended by five more years if it was voted to power.
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:
- Hilly Terrain;
- Low Population Density And/Or Sizeable Share of Tribal Population;
- Strategic Location along Borders With Neighbouring Countries;
- Economic and Infrastructure Backwardness; and
- Nonviable Nature of State finances.
Some prominent guidelines for getting SCS status:
- Must be economically backward with poor infrastructure.
- The states must be located in hilly and challenging terrain.
- They should have low population density and significant tribal population.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Special Category status.
- 14th Finance Commission.
- Finance Commission.
- Gadgil Formula.
Discuss the issues surrounding the grant of Special Category Status to states.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Bollywood actor Tusshar Kapoor awarded Golden Visa.
- He joins a growing list of Indian movie stars, including Mohanlal and Shah Rukh Khan, who have received the coveted 10-year residency.
In 2019, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) implemented a new system for long-term residence visas, thereby enabling foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor and with 100 per cent ownership of their business.
So, what does the Golden Visa offer?
The Golden Visa system essentially offers long-term residency (5 and 10 years) to people belonging to the following groups:
- investors, entrepreneurs, individuals with outstanding talents the likes of researchers, medical professionals and those within the scientific and knowledge fields, and remarkable students.
Eligibility requirements (Have a brief overview; need not mug up):
- A deposit of at least AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham) 10 million worth of public investment, either in the form of an investment fund or a company.
- 60% of the total investment must not be in the form of real estate.
- The invested amount must not be loaned, or in case of assets, investors must assume full ownership.
- The investor must be able to retain the investment for a minimum of three years.
- May be extended to include business partners, providing that each partner contributes AED 10 million.
- Can also include the holder’s spouse and children, as well as one executive director and one advisor.
For individuals with specialized talents:
The category includes doctors, researchers, scientists, investors and artists. These individuals may be granted a 10-year visa following accreditations granted by their respective departments and fields. The visa also extends to their spouses and children.
Eligibility for a 5-year visa:
- The investor must invest in a property of a gross value of not less than AED 5 million.
- The amount invested in real estate must not be on loan basis.
- The property must be retained for at least three years.
- Outstanding students with a minimum grade of 95% in public and private secondary schools.
- University students within and outside the country having a distinction GPA of at least 3.75 upon graduation.
Reasons Behind the Move:
The UAE’s economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and low oil prices, prompting many expatriates to leave.
- The move intends to bring them back now and keep the “talented people and great minds” in the Gulf country and help in nation-building.
- It will attract talented professionals from various fields of expertise and further encourage innovation, creativity and applied research, adding to the appeal of a career in the UAE for the world’s brightest minds.
Significance for India:
- It would attract more Indian professionals and businessmen to the Gulf nation and strengthen the India-UAE Relations.
- It will also facilitate the return of Indians who want to resume work after the relaxation of Covid-19-related restrictions, for which India had requested the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in early November 2020.
Did you know about UAE mediation between India and Pakistan. Read more about it: Click Here
- Important countries in the Middle East and their location.
- India and UAE- Bilateral trade and crude oil supply.
- Indian diaspora in UAE- volume and significance.
- What is a Golden Visa?
- Who is eligible?
Discuss the significance of UAE Golden Visa Scheme.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Achievements of Indians in science & technology;
Celebrated every year on December 22.
- It is observed to honor the birth anniversary of the famous mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan who greatly contributed towards mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series and continued fractions.
- 2021 marks 134th birth anniversary of Dr Ramanujan.
Highlights of Srinivasa Ramanujan’s life:
- In 1911, Ramanujan published the first of his papers in the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society.
- Ramanujan traveled to England in 1914, where Hardy tutored him and collaborated with him in some research.
- He worked out the Riemann series, the elliptic integrals, hypergeometric series, the functional equations of the zeta function, and his own theory of divergent series.
- The number 1729 is known as the Hardy-Ramanujan number after a famous visit by Hardy to see Ramanujan at a hospital. It is the smallest number which can be expressed as the sum of two different cubes in two different ways.
- Hardy observed Ramanujan’s work primarily involved fields less known even amongst other pure mathematicians.
- Ramanujan’s home state of Tamil Nadu celebrates 22 December as ‘State IT Day’, memorialising both the man and his achievements, as a native of Tamil Nadu.
- Ramanujan compiled around 3,900 results consisting of equations and identities. One of his most treasured findings was his infinite series for
The Dev Patel-starrer ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ (2015) was a biopic on the mathematician.
Dr Manmohan Singh, then Prime Minister, declared the December 22 as National Mathematics Day in 2012.
Prelims Link and Mains Link:
- Key achievements and contributions of Sri Ramanujan.
- National Mathematics Day.
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, has for long been advocating the use of flex-fuel to power cars and motorcycles sold in India.
- Recently, at an industry event, the transport minister revealed that he has issued an advisory to all carmakers to introduce flex-fuel engines in their vehicles.
As per the advisory issued by the government:
- Carmakers are given six months’ time to introduce flex-fuel engines.
- Manufacturers have to produce the Flex Fuel Strong Hybrid vehicles and both types of vehicles must comply with the BS-6 emission norms.
What are flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs)?
An FFV is a modified version of vehicles that could run both on gasoline and doped petrol with different levels of ethanol blends.
- FFVs will allow vehicles to use all the blends and also run on unblended fuel.
- FFVs have compatible engines to run on more than 84 percent ethanol blended petrol.
- FFVs are aimed at reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels and cutting down harmful emissions.
- Alternative fuel ethanol is Rs 60-62 per litre while petrol costs more than Rs 100 per litre in many parts of the country, so by using ethanol, Indians will save Rs 30-35 per litre.
- For India, FFVs will present a different advantage as they will allow vehicles to use different blends of ethanol mixed petrol available in different parts of the country.
- Also, these vehicles are a logical extension of the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme launched by the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in January 2003.
- Since India has surplus produce of corn, sugar and wheat, the mandatory blending of ethanol programme will help farmers in realising higher incomes.
- For the overall Indian economy, higher usage of ethanol as an automobile fuel will help save import costs as the country meets more than 80 per cent of its crude oil requirements through imports.
Disadvantages/challenges of using FFVs:
- Customer acceptance will be a major challenge since the cost of ownership and running cost are going to be very high compared with 100 per cent petrol vehicles.
- Running cost (due to lower fuel efficiency) will be higher by more than 30 per cent when run with 100 per cent ethanol (E100).
- Flex Fuel Engines cost more as ethanol has very different chemical properties than petrol. Ethanol has very low (40 per cent) Calorific value as compared to Gasoline, very High Latent heat of vaporization causing cooling of charge/combustion etc.
- Ethanol also acts as a solvent and could wipe out the protective oil film inside the engine thereby could cause wear and tear.
Do you know what Cetyl alcohol is? Red about its uses in brief
- About FFVs.
- What is ethanol?
- About Ethanol blending.
Discuss the benefits of ethanol blending with traditional fuel.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Conservation and Pollution related issues.
Sri Lankan authorities between December 18 and 20 and the impounding of 10 boats for “poaching” in territorial waters have again raised concerns about the fate of the men.
Fishermen from Tamil Nadu getting arrested and released later has become a routine affair, but there have been cases of deaths.
- The bone of contention between the two countries has been the use of bottom trawlers by the Tamil Nadu fishermen, a practice opposed in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province on the ground that trawling damages the marine ecosystem.
- This practice has been banned in Sri Lanka and there have been agitations for stringent enforcement of the law.
The Indian side had agreed twice — in 2010 and 2016 — to phase out and end the practice of bottom trawling. But it has not ended yet.
What is the issue with Bottom trawling?
Bottom trawling, an ecologically destructive practice, involves trawlers dragging weighted nets along the sea-floor, causing great depletion of aquatic resources.
- Bottom trawling captures juvenile fish, thus exhausting the ocean’s resources and affecting marine conservation efforts. This practice was started by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Palk Bay and actively pursued at the peak of the civil war in Sri Lanka.
Solution to the bottom trawling- deep-sea fishing plan:
The solution to the bottom trawling issue lies in transition from trawling to deep-sea fishing.
- The activity of catching fish that live in the deep parts of the sea/ocean is called deep-sea fishing.
- The boats are designed in such a way that fishermen get access to the deeper parts of the ocean and fish species.
- It is practiced worldwide, especially in the coastal areas with no ecological damage.
- The depth of water should be at least 30 meters to be considered a deep sea fishing zone.
Efforts by Government- the Palk Bay scheme:
- Launched in July 2017 under the Blue Revolution programme.
- The scheme is financed by the Union and the State Governments with beneficiary participation.
- It had envisaged the provision of 2,000 vessels in three years to the fishermen of the State and motivate them to abandon bottom trawling.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
The President of India recently unveiled the statue of Shri P.N. Panicker at Poojappura, Thiruvananthapuram.
P.N. Panicker (1909-1995):
- Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker is known as the Father of the Library Movement of Kerala.
- June 19, his death anniversary, has been observed in Kerala as Vayanadinam (Reading Day) since 1996.
- In 2017, PM declared June 19, Kerala’s Reading Day, as National Reading Day in India. The following month is also observed as National Reading Month in India.
- Panicker led the formation of Thiruvithaamkoor Granthasala Sangham (Travancore Library Association) in 1945 with 47 rural libraries. The slogan of the organization was ‘Read and Grow’.
- The association – Grandhasala Sangham won the prestigious ‘Krupsakaya Award’ from UNESCO in 1975.
Defence research and development organisation (DRDO) has successfully conducted the flight test of indigenously developed high-speed expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) Abhyas.
- This is an indigenous unmanned aerial target system.
Olive Ridley Turtles:
Researchers of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) are carrying out tagging of the Olive Ridleys at three mass nesting sites — Gahirmatha, Devi River mouth and Rushikulya.
- The tagging would help them identify the migration path and places visited by the marine reptiles after congregation and nesting.
- The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
- They inhabit warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- These turtles, along with their cousin the Kemps ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
- Rushikulya rookery coast in the Ganjam district of Odisha, Gahirmatha beach and the mouth of the Debi River, are the major nesting sites in Odisha.
- IUCN status: Vulnerable.
Every year, the Indian Coast Guard’s “Operation Olivia”, initiated in the early 1980s, helps protect Olive Ridley turtles as they congregate along the Odisha coast for breeding and nesting from November to December.
UNSC Resolution 2615:
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously passed this resolution to permit a carve-out in sanctions against the Taliban to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
- This carve-out covers urgently needed humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan.
- The resolution (2615) mandates a review of the carve-out every six months.
- It also requests that an Emergency Relief Coordinator brief the UNSC every six months on the delivery of assistance and any obstacles to implementation.
- It also “calls on all parties” to respect human rights and observe international humanitarian law.
- DRDO recently successfully conducted maiden flight test of a new indigenously developed surface-to-surface missile ‘Pralay’.
- Pralay’ is India’s first conventional quasi-ballistic missile. A quasi-ballistic missile has a low trajectory, and while it is largely ballistic, it can maneuver in flight.
- The missile has been developed in a way that it is able to defeat the interceptor missiles and also has the ability to change its path after covering a certain range mid-air.
- It is powered with a solid propellant rocket motor and many new technologies.
- Range: The missile has a range of 150-500 kilometre and can be launched from a mobile launcher.
- Pralay will be the longest-range surface-to-surface missile in the inventory of the Army.
Vernacular Innovation Program:
- Launched by Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog.
- It is an initiative to lower the language barrier in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship such that it will systematically decouple creative expressions and languages of transaction.
- It seeks to enable innovators and entrepreneurs to have access to the innovation ecosystem in 22 scheduled languages.
- Implementation: AIM has identified and will be training a Vernacular Task Force (VTF) in each of the 22 scheduled languages.
- It will assist in overcoming linguistic barriers and empowering innovators in the farthest parts of the country.
- According to the 2011 census, 10.4% of Indians speak English, with the majority speaking it as a second, third, or fourth language.
- Only 0.02 percent of Indians were English Speakers with their first language.
- AIM aims to boost the local, regional, national, and global innovation pipelines by offering access to learning in one’s language and culture.
- The Hindi translation of Tolkappiyam and the Kannada translations of 9 works of Classical Tamil literature were recently issued by the Minister of State for Education.
- Tamil literature goes back to the Sangam Era, named after the assembly (sangam) of poets.
- Tolkappiyam was authored by Tolkappiyar and is considered the earliest of Tamil literary work.
- Though it is a work on Tamil grammar, it also provides insights on the political and socio-economic conditions of the time.
- Some in the Tamil tradition place the text in the mythical second sangam, variously in 1st millennium BCE or earlier.
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