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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 28 MARCH 2022

 

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. Hindus can get minority status in some states: Centre to Supreme Court.

2. NPPA hikes prices of 800 essential drugs from 1 April.

3. Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

4. Bucharest Nine.

5. Bimstec.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Polar Science and Cryosphere (PACER) scheme.

2. Earth Hour.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM).

2. Olive Ridley Turtles.

3. What is a stablecoin?

4. Pensilungpa Glacier.


Hindus can get minority status in some states: Centre to Supreme Court:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

Context:

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking minority status for Hindus in Mizoram,Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Lakshadweep, Ladakh, Kashmir etc.

 

What the plea seeks?

  1. Minority status for Hindus: Hindus were a minority in 10 states as per the 2011 Census. Therefore, they are not able to avail the benefits of schemes meant for minorities.
  2. Scrap the National Commission for Minority Education Institution Act, 2004: Section 2(f) of NCMEI Act confers power to the Centre to identify and notify minority communities in India. Therefore, it gives unbridled power to the Centre and is “manifestly arbitrary, irrational, and offending”.
  3. Violation of Fundamental Rights: Denial of benefits to the “real” minorities and the “arbitrary and unreasonable” disbursements under schemes meant for them to the absolute majority infringe upon their fundamental rights (Articles 14 and 21).
  4. Citing Article 30 of the Constitution, the plea said that minorities whether based on religion or language shall have the right to establish-administer educational institutions of their choice.

 

What has the Centre said on these?

  1. States too have the power to declare any religious or linguistic community, including Hindus, as ‘minority’.
  2. Matters concerning whether followers of Hinduism, Judaism, Bahaism can establish and administer educational institutions of their choice in the said states and those related to their identification as minority within the state may be considered at the state level.
  3. Minority welfare schemes are for underprivileged students and economically weaker sections of the minority community and are not for everyone belonging to the minority community. These schemes are only enabling provisions so as to achieve inclusiveness and therefore cannot be held to suffer from any infirmity.

 

Several state governments have given minority status to some communities. These include:

  • Maharashtra government has notified ‘Jews’ as a minority community within the state.
  • The Karnataka government has notified Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Lamani, Hindi, Konkani and Gujarati languages as minority languages within the state of Karnataka.

 

Article 29:

  • It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same.
  • It grants protection to both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities.
  • However, the Supreme Court held that the scope of this article is not necessarily restricted to minorities only, as use of the word ‘section of citizens’ in the Article includes minorities as well as the majority.

 

Article 30:

It says all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

 

Special rights enjoyed by religious minority institutions are:

Under Art 30(1)(a), such institutions enjoy right to education as a Fundamental Right. In case the property is taken over by state, due compensation to be provided to establish institutions elsewhere.

Under Article 15(5), they are not considered for reservation.

Under Right to Education Act, they are not required to provide admission to children in the age group of 6-14 years upto 25% of enrolment reserved for economically backward section of society.

In St Stephens vs Delhi University case, 1992, SC ruled that these institutions can have 50% seats reserved for minorities.

 

Insta Curious:

The Supreme Court, in the TMA Pai Foundation case ruling, had said that the state can introduce a regulatory regime in the national interest to provide minority educational institutions with well-qualified teachers in order for them to achieve excellence in education.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. State can regulate minority institutions.
  2. Article 30.
  3. Article 14.
  4. Article 21.
  5. Minority Status.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of grant of minority status of a religion in the country.

Sources: the Hindu.

NPPA hikes prices of 800 essential drugs from 1 April:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Issues related to Health.

 

Context:

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has announced a hike in prices of around 800 essential drugs from 1 April. These drugs are included in the National Essential List of Medicine (NELM).

  • The rise in drug prices works out at around 10.76% based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI)

 

Basis:

The clause 16 of Drugs Price Control Order 2013, allows NPPA to revise the ceiling price of scheduled formulations as per the annual wholesale price index (WPI) for the preceding calendar year on or before 1 April of every year and notify the same on the first day of April every year.

 

Current Affairs

About the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM):

Under the provisions of Drug Prices Control Order, 2013, only the prices of drugs that figure in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) are monitored and controlled by the regulator, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority.

  • Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority healthcare needs of the majority of the population.
  • The primary purpose of NLEM is to promote rational use of medicines considering the three important aspects i.e. cost, safety and efficacy.

 

About NPPA:

  • NPPA was constituted by the Government of India in 1997 as an attached office of the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers as an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs and to ensure availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.
  • It was made to fix/revise prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce price and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995-2013 (DPCO).

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who can set up PMRUs?
  2. Role of states in setting up of PMRUs.
  3. Functions of NPPA in context of DPCO regulation.
  4. NPPA- functions.
  5. What is NLEM? Who maintains the list?
  6. What is the Drug Price Control Order?
  7. Section 10(2) (l) of Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Mains Link:

Discuss the role and functions of Price Monitoring & Resource Unit (PMRU).

Sources: the Hindu.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana:  

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Context:

In keeping with the concern and sensitivity towards poor and vulnerable sections of society, the Government has extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) scheme for another six months i.e., till September 2022 (Phase VI).

  • The Phase-V of PM-GKAY scheme was to end in March 2022.
  • It may be recalled that the PM-GKAY has been under implementation since April 2020, as the largest food security program in the world.

 

About PMGKAY:

During the ongoing crisis owing to Covid-19 Pandemic, Union Government announced Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) providing free food grains to the affected population.

PMGKAY is a part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) to help the poor fight the battle against Covid-19.

  • Its nodal Ministry is the Ministry of Finance.
  • It was initially announced for a three-month period (April, May and June 2020), covering 80 crore ration cardholders. Later it was extended till November 2020.
  • However, in April 2021, the government had announced its decision to restart the scheme as PMGKAY-III.

The salient features of the scheme are:

  • 80 crore individuals, i.e, roughly two-thirds of India’s population would be covered under this scheme.
  • Insurance cover of Rs 50 Lakh per health worker fighting COVID-19 to be provided under Insurance Scheme.
  • 80 crore poor people will to get 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month for the next three months.
  • 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders to get Rs 500 per month for next three months.
  • Increase in MNREGA wage to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 13.62 crore families.
  • Government to front-load Rs 2,000 paid to farmers in first week of April under existing PM Kisan Yojana to benefit 8.7 crore farmers.

Expenditure:

Government of India will bear all expenditure of over Rs. 26,000 crore on account of food subsidy and Central assistance to states/UTs on account of intra-state transportation etc.

Challenge:

  • A key issue is that the beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act are based on the last census (2011).
  • The number of food-insecure people has increased since then and they remain uncovered.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Buffer Stocks & Food Security.
  2. Public Distribution System (PDS).
  3. PMGKY.
  4. NFSA.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of National Food Security Act.

Sources: the Hindu.

Bucharest Nine:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: International Relations.

 

Context:

The envoys to India of nine Eastern European countries called Bucharest Nine jointly wrote to acquaint the Indian public with the basic facts on the ground” about the “premeditated, unprovoked and unjustified Russian aggression in Ukraine”.

  • The B9 countries have been critical of President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine since 2014, when the war in the Donbas started and Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.

 

What is Bucharest Nine?

The “Bucharest Nine” is a group of nine NATO countries in Eastern Europe that became part of the US-led military alliance after the end of the Cold War.

  • The B9 was founded on November 4, 2015, and takes its name from Bucharest, the capital of Romania.
  • The group was created on the initiative of Klaus Iohannis, who has been President of Romania since 2014, and Andrzej Duda, who became President of Poland in August 2015.

 

Members:

Romania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

  • All members of the B9 are part of the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
  • All nine countries were once closely associated with the now dissolved Soviet Union, but later chose the path of democracy.

 

Functions of B9:

  • The B9 offers a platform for deepening the dialogue and consultation among the participant allied states, in order to articulate their specific contribution to the ongoing processes across the North-Atlantic Alliance.
  • It works in total compliance with the principles of solidarity and indivisibility of the security of the NATO Member States.

 

Insta Curious:

Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria are former signatories of the now-dissolved Warsaw Pact military alliance led by the Soviet Union.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Bucharest Nine.
  2. Cold War.
  3. European Union.
  4. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
  5. Three Seas Initiative.
  6. Location of B 9 Countries.

Sources: the Hindu.

BIMSTEC:

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Context:

BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) completes 25 years of the journey this year that began in Bangkok in June 1997.

  • The fifth summit of BIMSTEC will be held in Colombo on March 30.

 

What is BIMSTEC?

In an effort to integrate the region, the grouping was formed in 1997, originally with Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and later included Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan. BIMSTEC, which now includes five countries from South Asia and two from ASEAN, is a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia. It includes all the major countries of South Asia, except Maldives, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

Why the region matters?

  • Over one-fifth (22%) of the world’s population live in the seven countries around it, and they have a combined GDP close to $2.7 trillion.
  • The Bay also has vast untapped natural resources. One-fourth of the world’s traded goods cross the Bay every year.

 

Why is BIMSTEC important for India?

As the region’s largest economy, India has a lot at stake.

  • BIMSTEC connects not only South and Southeast Asia, but also the ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal.
  • For India, it is a natural platform to fulfil our key foreign policy priorities of ‘Neighborhood First’ and ‘Act East’.
  • For New Delhi, one key reason for engagement is in the vast potential that is unlocked with stronger connectivity. Almost 300 million people, or roughly one-quarter of India’s population, live in the four coastal states adjacent to the Bay of Bengal (Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal).
  • From the strategic perspective, the Bay of Bengal, a funnel to the Malacca straits, has emerged a key theatre for an increasingly assertive China in maintaining its access route to the Indian Ocean.
  • As China mounts assertive activities in the Bay of Bengal region, with increased submarine movement and ship visits in the Indian Ocean, it is in India’s interest to consolidate its internal engagement among the BIMSTEC countries.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Bimstec.
  2. Members.
  3. Objectives.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Bimstec for India.

 

 

Sources: the Hindu.

Polar Science and Cryosphere (PACER) scheme:

GS Paper 3:

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

 

The Polar Science and Cryosphere (PACER) scheme has been approved for continuation during 2021-2026.

The PACER scheme:

  • Polar Science and Cryosphere Research (PACER) scheme comprises the Antarctic program, Indian Arctic program, Southern Ocean program and Cryosphere and Climate program.
  • It is being implemented successfully through National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

What is the cryosphere?

The cryosphere is the frozen water part of the Earth system.

  • These are places on Earth that are so cold that water is frozen solid. These areas of snow or ice, which are subject to temperatures below 0°C 32°F for at least part of the year, compose the cryosphere.
  • The term “cryosphere” comes from the Greek word, “krios,” which means cold.

Ice and snow on land are one part of the cryosphere.

  • This includes the largest parts of the cryosphere, the continental ice sheets found in Greenland and Antarctica, as well as ice caps, glaciers, and areas of snow and permafrost.
  • When continental ice flows out from land and to the sea surface, we get shelf ice.

The other part of the cryosphere is ice that is found in water. This includes frozen parts of the ocean, such as waters surrounding Antarctica and the Arctic. It also includes frozen rivers and lakes, which mainly occur in polar areas.

Current Affairs

Significance of Cryosphere:

The components of the cryosphere play an important role in the Earth’s climate.

  • Snow and ice reflect heat from the sun, helping to regulate our planet’s temperature.
  • Because polar regions are some of the most sensitive to climate shifts, the cryosphere may be one of the first places where scientists are able to identify global changes in climate.

PACER encompasses the following six components.

  1. Construction of polar research vessel
  2. Construction of the third research base in Antarctica
  3. Indian scientific endeavours in the Arctic
  4. Polar expeditions-Antarctica
  5. Replacement of Maitri station
  6. Southern Ocean

Objective of PACER scheme: To improve our understanding of Polar Science and cryosphere system.

 

Current Affairs

 

Major achievements of the PACER scheme in the recent three years are:

  1. Executed 39th & 40th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica.
  2. 41st Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica is ongoing.
  3. Clear-air atmospheric observatories containing automatic weather stations, a suite of sensors to measure aerosol and greenhouse gas concentrations has been established at Maitri and Bharati stations.
  4. Twenty-three research projects related to glaciology, marine science, polar biology, and atmospheric science were successfully carried out during 2019-20 Arctic Expedition.
  5. IndARC mooring system along with Hydrophone system was successfully retrieved and deployed in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard.
  6. Glaciological field campaigns were carried out in six benchmark glaciers in Chandra basin of Lahaul-Spiti region of Western Himalaya.

Sources: the Hindu.

What is Earth Hour?

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

 

Context:

Every year, Earth Hour is observed on the last Saturday of March at 8:30 pm. And while previously it brought the public out onto the roads to mark the hour, this year the famous environmental initiative went digital as many countries are in lockdown.

 

The topic for Earth Hour 2022 will be “Shape Our Future.” This is a pivotal year for everyone and our world. It is up to us to #ShapeOurFuture by raising awareness about the serious issues impacting our world today.

 

What is Earth Hour? 

Dating back to 2007, Earth Hour is an annual event organized by the World Wildlife Fund that promotes conservation and sustainable energy. During this time, civilians are encouraged to switch off their lights for one hour to help reduce the effect of global warming and raise awareness for climate change and wildlife conservation.

 

Background:

It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide. Today, Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. The one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.

 

What’s the difference between Earth Hour and Earth Day? 

Whereas Earth Hour stands as a climate change initiative where people reduce their electricity usage, Earth Day (April 22) celebrates our natural environment by inspiring people to plant trees, recycle regularly and keep the planet tidy.

 

Why do we need earth hour?

  • Global warming and climate change have dominated the scientific discourse in the past more than one decade. With ever rising population of the world, the climate change has put the humankind at a great risk along with other species.
  • Global warming, rising levels of pollution due to ever increasing industrialisation, declining forest cover and rising sea levels are some of the dangers that drastically affect the workings of life on the earth.
  • Though the largest polluters are big industries, the WWF tries to make the masses more and more aware about the impending dangers of adverse climate so that they could put pressure on the respective governments to frame environment-friendly policies and laws.
  • With Earth Hour, the WWF aims to engage people across the globe to adopt more sustainable lifestyle. Turning off lights for an hour is just an annual reminder that if the world does not mend its ways, it will be heading to a dark age, literally.

Sources: Indian Express.

Facts for Prelims:

 

Olive Ridley Turtles:

  • 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:

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.

 

Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM):

  • It is a high response, quick reaction, vertically launched supersonic missile, designed to neutralize enemy aerial threats – missiles, aircraft, guided bombs, helicopters.
  • This MRSAM version is a Surface-to-Air Missile developed jointly by DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel for use by the Indian Army.

 

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.

 

Pensilungpa Glacier:

  • The Pensilungpa Glacier is located in Zanskar, Ladakh.
  • It is retreating due to an increase in the temperature and decrease in precipitation during winters.
  • The Zanskar Range is a mountain range in the union territory of Ladakh that separates Zanskar from Ladakh.
  • Geologically, the Zanskar Range is part of the Tethys Himalaya.
  • Marbal Pass and many other passes which connect Ladakh with Kashmir are in this area.
  • 13000 feet high Zojila Pass is in the extreme northwest of Zanskar range.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Maldives’ new police academy.
  2. Chandigarh employees to get benefits of central service rules.
  3. October 5 to be designated as National Dolphin Day.

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