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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 12 August 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 1:

1. How did continents form

GS Paper 2:

1. Significance of India’s talks with NATO

GS Paper 3:

1. Youth employment deteriorated in India: ILO report

Content for Mains Enrichment (Essay/Ethics)

1. Initiatives to preserve Tribal Language and Culture

Facts for Prelims:

1. Chit Fund

2. State-level OBC groups

3. Derecognising political parties over freebies

4. Karnataka HC sets aside the creation of ACB

5. SMILE-75 Initiative

6. UN Sanction: JeM deputy chief

7. Universal Postal Union

8. Trans-Himalayan network

9. Move towards protectionism

10. Issues with the growth pattern in India

11. Electromagnetic Field(EMF) Emissions

12. Low Altitude Escape Motor (LEM)

13. Drugs shortage haunts the HIV-positive community

14. Genes that can increase drought resistance in plants


 

How did continents form

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Geomorphology

 

Source: DownToEarth

Direction: Plate tectonics is important for both Mains and Prelims. Those appearing this year should keep a note prepared on ‘Plate Techtonics’

Context: According to a new study published in Nature, Earth’s continents were formed by massive meteorite impacts that were prevalent during the first billion years of our planet’s four and a half billion-year history.

The theory that giant meteorite impacts formed continents had been around for decades, but until now, there was little solid evidence for its support. Meteorite impacts generated massive energy to form oceanic plates, which later evolved into continents.

  • Current theory: The most commonly accepted theory in place attributes continent formation to the movement of tectonic plates (as per the theory of Plate Tectonics)

Evidence for Meteorite impact theory:

Zircon crytals in Pilbara Craton: The researchers looked for evidence in zircon crystals embedded in rocks from the Pilbara Craton in Western Australia. This craton is the remnant of an ancient crust that began forming more than three billion years ago.

  • Cratons: A craton is an old and stable part of the continental lithosphere, which consists of Earth’s two topmost layers, the crust and the uppermost mantle

 

“Studying the composition of oxygen isotopes in these zircon crystals revealed a ‘top-down’ process starting with the melting of rocks near the surface and progressing deeper, consistent with the geological effect of giant meteorite impacts.

Zircons are formed by the crystallisation of magma or are found in metamorphic rocks. They act as tiny time capsules, recording the period of geologic activity. Newer zircon adds to the original crystal as time progresses.

Need for understanding:

  • Understanding the formation and evolution of continents is important, as it is the key to reserves of metals such as lithium, tin and nickel.
  • Most of Earth’s biomass and most humans live on these landmasses, so understanding how continents form and evolve is crucial.

Fig: Impact of meteorite

 

Theory of Plate Tectonics

Alfred Wegener in his paper in 1912 hypothesized that all of the modern-day continents had previously been clumped together in a supercontinent he called Pangaea. Over 200 million years, the continents had drifted apart. This was called continental drift theory. But it was widely ridiculed as a mere hypothesis. It was only in the 1960s, when technologies had developed that the validity of his theory was proved and further enhanced by McKenzie and Parker, through their theory of plate tectonics.

FeaturesContinental Drift TheoryPlate Tectonics Theory
TheoryOnly able to explain the movement of Continents.Explains movement of both continents and ocean
Origin of driftMesozoic eraDrift is cyclical (Pangaea will form and drift time and again)
EvidenceToo generalistic and based on assumptions e.g. apparent affinity of physical featuresBased on well-studied scientific evidence e.g. gravitational anomalies at trenches, paleomagnetism has been scientifically proved.
Use CDT helped in the evolution of convection current theory, seafloor spreading, and plate tectonic theory.Plate tectonics theory was based on CDT, convection current theory, and seafloor spreading.

 

Insta Links

Plate Tectonic Theory

 

Mains Link

Q. Continental drift theory was initially ridiculed, but it paved the way for plate tectonics to explain how Earth’s continents move. Elaborate. (10M)

 

Prelims Link

Consider the following (UPSC 2013)

    1. Electromagnetic radiation
    2. Geothermal energy
    3. Gravitational force
    4. Plate movements
    5. Rotation of the earth
    6. Revolution of the earth

Which of the above are responsible for bringing dynamic changes to the surface of the earth?

(a) 1, 2, 3 and 4 only

(b) 1, 3, 5 and 6 only

(c) 2, 4, 5 and 6 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Answer: D

All the above factors are responsible for bringing dynamic changes to earth in various ways.

What is the significance of India’s talks with NATO?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and affecting India’s interest, NATO etc

 

Source: Indian Express

Directions: NATO mandate, membership and role of NATO are important for this year’s mains, etc.

Context: NATO is important due to the Russia-Ukrain issue and talks for the expansion of NATO. But be selective in making notes.

Background of India-NATO engagement:

India held its first political dialogue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels on December 12, 2019, with the aim to assess cooperation on regional and global issues of mutual interest. The talk was primarily political in Character.

 

What is the significance of India’s talks with NATO?

  • NATO’s engagement with Pakistan and China: India’s talks with NATO hold significance given that the North Atlantic alliance has been engaging both China and Pakistan in bilateral dialogue.
    • NATO opened selective training for Pakistani officers and its military delegation visited Pakistan in November 2019 for military staff talks.
  • Balance in NATO’s perception: Engaging NATO in a political dialogue would provide India with an opportunity to bring about a balance in NATO’s perceptions about the situation in regions and issues of concern to India.
  • Common ground: There is a convergence in the perspectives of both India and NATO on China, terrorism, and Afghanistan, including Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, sources said.
  • Maritime security: It is a principal area of conversation in the future, given a substantial common ground with NATO.

 

Limitations of India-NATO talk:

  • Russia’s threat to Euro-Atlantic: From NATO’s perspective, it was not China, but Russia whose aggressive actions continued to be the main threat to Euro-Atlantic security.
  • China as a challenge and opportunity: Given the divergence among NATO countries, its view on China was mixed; while it did deliberate on China’s rise, the conclusion was that China presented both a challenge and an opportunity.
  • Taliban as a political entity: In Afghanistan, NATO saw the Taliban as a political entity, which was not in line with India’s stanc This was almost two years before the Taliban announced an interim government in Afghanistan in September 2021.

Way forward:

  • Continuing engagement with India on a mutually agreed agenda.
  • Geo-strategic position of India: In NATO’s view, India, given its geo-strategic position and unique perspectives on various issues, was relevant to international security and could be an important partner in informing the alliance about India’s own region and beyond.
  • Considering proposals from NATO: As far as India is concerned, it was felt New Delhi may consider proposals emanating from NATO, if any, on bilateral cooperation in areas of interest to India, based on the progress achieved in the initial rounds.

 

About NATO (Just glance through it once)

  • It is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 1949, by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.
  • Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium.
  • It was the US’s first peacetime military alliance outside the western hemisphere.
  • There are currently 30 member states.
  • NATO’s essential and enduring purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means.

 

What is important about NATO’s collective defence?

  • Collective defence: Members of NATO are committed to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
    • Collective defence lies at the very heart of NATO, “a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance”.
    • This is laid out in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the founding treaty of NATO.
  • Article 5: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all
    • Consequently, they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in the exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary
    • Including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

 

Objectives of NATO:

Current Affairs 

Origin:

The Vandenberg Resolution:

  • The US Congress passed the Vandenberg Resolution, a landmark action “advising the President to seek US and free world security through support of mutual defence arrangements that operated within the UN Charter but outside the Security Council, where the Soviet veto would thwart collective defence arrangements)was the stepping stone to NATO.
  • The treaty was signed in Washington DC on April 4, 1949. It had 12 signatories initially: the US, UK, Canada, France, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy, Iceland, and Luxembourg.

 

Insta Links:

NATO

 

Mains Links:

Q. The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of China, which is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain. (UPSC 2021)

 

Prelims Link

Which of the following is/are alliances of NATO?

    1. Istanbul cooperation initiative
    2. Mediterranean Dialogue
    3. Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
    4. Financial market dialogue

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a. 1, 2 and 3 only

b. 1, 3 and 4 only

c. 2 and 3 only

d. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ans: (a)

Justification:

Current Affairs

Consider the following statements and answer the question below:

    1. Spain and Italy are not members of NATO.
    2. Article 5 of NATO has been invoked only once.
    3. NATO was US’s first peacetime military alliance outside the western hemisphere.

Which statements are correct?
a) 1 and 2 

b) 2 and 3

c) 1 and 3

d) only 3

Answer: B

Article 5 has been invoked only once in NATO history: by the United States after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Youth employment deteriorated in India: ILO report

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Employment

 

Directions: Note down a few data points

Source: The Hindu

Context:

  • India experienced severe working-hour and employment losses in 2020 and 2021, and Indian youth employment deteriorated in 2021 compared to 2020, according to the Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022 report released by the International Labour Organization.
  • The recovery in youth employment is still lagging globally, the report says, confirming that COVID-19 has hurt young people more than any other age group.

 

Key Findings:

  • Role of Pandemic: Pandemic has worsened the numerous labour market challenges facing those aged between 15 and 24 years.
  • Young people are affected more than adults: Youngsters in this age group experienced a much higher percentage loss in employment than adults since early 2020.
    • The total global number of unemployed youth is estimated to reach 73 million in 2022, a slight improvement from 2021 (75 million), but still six million above the pre-pandemic level of 2019,” the report said.

On India

  • Surveys conducted by the Center for Monitoring the Indian Economy(CMIE): The youth employment participation rate declined by 0.9 percentage points over the first nine months of 2021 relative to its value in 2020, while it increased by 2 per cent points for adults over the same time period.
    • The situation is particularly severe for very young people aged 15-20 years,” the report said.
  • Quality education and training opportunities: Countries are required to create decent jobs, especially in green, blue and digital economies, and to set economies on the path towards greater sustainability, inclusiveness and resilience.
  • Unequal access to online education: School closures lasted 18 months and among the 24 crore school-going children, only 8% of such children in rural areas and 23% in urban areas had adequate access to online education.
    • Given the deeply unequal access to online resources in developing countries, children from socio-economically disadvantaged families, which are the large majority, had almost no access to education,” the report said.
  • Learning regression: It said school closures not only prevented new learning but also led to the phenomenon of “learning regression”, that is, children forgetting what they had learned earlier.
    • In India, 92% of children on average lost at least one foundational ability in language and 82% lost at least one foundational ability in mathematics,” the report said citing studies.
  • Role of MGNREGA: The report appreciated the MGNREGA and said it has played an important role in providing paid employment, particularly for women, but also in carbon sequestration because of the Act’s focus on natural resources, such as land, water and trees, which provide adaptation benefits.
  • Low youth female market participation: It added that India has a very low youth female labour market participation and Indian young women experienced larger relative employment losses than young men in 2021 and 2022.
  • High youth employment losses: In general, the high youth employment losses in India drive up the global average employment losses.
    • Young Indian men account for 16% of young men in the global labour market, while the corresponding share for young Indian women is just 5%,” the report said.
  • Private school teachers less paid: The study found out that teachers in non-state schools are often paid significantly less than those in state schools.
    • Teachers in low-fee private schools in India, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan are paid between one-eighth and one-half of what their counterparts in the state sector receive,” it added.
  • Highly informal domestic work: It added that domestic work is a highly informal sector in India, wages are extremely low and young women and girls are vulnerable to abuse.
  • Abuse reports: Reports of abuse suffered by young domestic workers are common, including verbal and physical abuse, and sexual exploitation,” the report said.

 

About ILO:

  • Established as an agency for the League of Nations following World War I.
  • Established by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
  • It became the first specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) in the year 1946.
  • It got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.
  • It is the only tripartite U.N. agency. It brings together governments, employers and workers.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Reports by ILO:

 

Insta Links:

ILO

Mains Links:

Q. Incidence and intensity of poverty are most important in determining poverty based on income alone”. In this context analyze the latest United Nations Multi Poverty Index report. (UPSC 2020)

 

Prelims Links

Which of the following reports is/are published by ILO?

    1. World social protection report
    2. Global wage report
    3. Global Hunger Index
    4. World employment and social outlook

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a. 1, 2 and 4 only

b. 1, 2 and 3 only

c. 3 and 4 only

d. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ans: A

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (Ethics/Essay)


Initiatives to preserve Tribal Language and Culture

Language Box: Initiatives to preserve Tribal Language and Culture

  • In an effort to preserve endangered tribal languages that do not have a written form, a ‘language box’ has been installed at a tribal residential school in Nilgiris district, Tamil Nadu. Tribal students can pick up words from their language, write them on a paper in English or Tamil, and drop it in the box.
    • Once in six months, the box will be opened and students who contributed to it will be honoured.
  • The ‘Reading and Language Retrieval Movement’ has been recording folktales in the voice of the children and broadcasting them on American Tamil Radio for the last two years and several children have become storytellers in their native language.

 


Facts for Prelims


Chit Fund

Source: Live Mint

Direction: Go through it once.

Context: Recently, rates of GST on the chit funds have been raised from the earlier 12% to 18%. This may raise the borrowing cost and benefits out of the chit fund.

About Chit Fund

  • A chit fund is a close-ended group lending scheme. It is called ‘Chit Fund’ as a piece of paper is used for writing a bid amount, known as a chit.
  • Status: It doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the RBI but is a legal entity, registered with and regulated by, the state governments under the Chit Funds Act of 1982.
  • Functioning: Each member contributes their share to the pool (fixed sum) and the lump-sum amount is given to the one-two win’s the bid or who is in need (but has to pay extra).
  • Chit funds are the Indian versions of Rotating Savings and Credit Associationsfound across the globe.

Benefits:

  • Closed groups and known members make default highly unlikely.
  • A chit fund is a unique hybrid instrumentthat makes an individual a saver/lender instead of a borrower.
  • Provide cheaper money in case of need or emergency.
  • Credit for informal workers: Professional chit funds have served a segment of the Indian population that do not have stable income streams, proof of regular income, or collateral.

Ponzi Scheme:

  • Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors.
  • The scheme leads victims to believe that profits are coming from product sales or other means, and they remain unaware that other investors are the source of funds.

Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act 2019: It bans unregulated deposit schemes, other than deposits taken in the ordinary course of business, and protects the interest of depositors.

 

State-level OBC groups must be included in the central list

Source: Indian Express

Direction: Go through it once. Understand the issues concerned.

Context: Currently, for each state, there are two OBC lists, i.e., one for the state and the Centre. So, a caste included in the OBC list of a state enjoys the reservation benefits in state government jobs and educational institutions, but not with respect to central government jobs or educational institutions.

  • However, for SC/ST, there is only one list and one status (identified as per the state or UT)

Central Government argument: In Ram Singh and Ors vs Union of India Case (2015), the Central government argued that the inclusion of classes or groups in state OBC lists is a strong and compelling reason for the inclusion of such classes in the central lists. The Supreme Court judgment validated this argument.

Constitutional Provisions:  Articles 15(4) and 16(4) make special provisions for socially and educationally backward classes of citizens (SEBCs, popularly known as OBCs), the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

Historical development of the OBCs reservation:

  • First Backward Classes Commission (1955) recommended the inclusion of 2,399 castes as OBCs. But, the then central government did not implement it.
  • Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission, 1980), the central government implemented it much later.
    • The central government introduced a reservation of 27% for OBCs in government jobs, in 1990. The constitutional validity of the reservation was upheld in the Indira Sawhney case. Pursuant to judgment, the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993was enacted.

Related News:

The Justice Rohini Commission was constituted to ensure equitable distribution of reservation benefits among the OBC castes through sub-categorization. It has recently been given the 10th extension in five years

Why the need for sub-categorization: It arises from the perception that a few dominant castes among the OBCs have cornered a disproportionate amount of the benefits from the reservation, thus leading to injustice.

 

Supreme Court not in favour of derecognising political parties over freebies

Source: The Hindu

Context: The Supreme Court refused to consider the question of derecognising political parties that resort to freebies.

SC observations:

The apex court was considering the question of reining in the practice of political parties offering “irrational freebies” to the electorate if they are voted to power, especially in states which are already drowning in debt.

  • The court said ‘freebies’ are different from the welfare schemes of the government.

Legal Status:

  • Part-IV-A of the Representation of the People Act contains, Section 29A deals with the registration of associations and bodies as political parties.
  • Part-IV-A does not provide any section for the de-registration of political parties. Representation of the People Act, 1951 does not provide any mechanism for de-registration of a political party

 

Karnataka HC sets aside the creation of ACB

Source: The Hindu

Direction: Go through it once. Can be used as an example (for Mains) and provisions of the Lokayukta act is important (for Prelims)

Context: High Court of Karnataka set aside the constitution of a separate Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), under the direct control of the Chief Minister, in 2016 by withdrawing the powers vested with the Karnataka Lokayukta police wing to probe all cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against public servants.

Why the court gave this order: The executive used its power arbitrarily under Article 162 and no convincing reason was given by the government for the creation of a separate ACB.Also, it was not clear who will act against the case against CM, Ministers and other officials. ACB could also be used for political vendetta against rivals.

Court recommendation: If really the government intended to curb corruption, favouritism and indiscipline in the administrative machinery the ACB should have been allowed to work under the control of Lokayukta instead of the Chief Minister.

 

Lokayukta

What is Lokayukta?

Lokayukta is an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman – investigate allegations of corruption and mal-administration against public servants and is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.

Genesis:

The Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Late Morarji Desai in 1966 recommended the setting up of the institution of Lokayukta.

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provides for the appointment of a Lokayukta.

Who is appointed as the Lokayukta?

The Lokayukta is usually a former High Court Chief Justice or former Supreme Court judge and has a fixed tenure.

Selection of Lokayukta:

  • The Chief Minister selects a person as the Lokayukta after consultation with the High Court Chief Justice, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Chairman of the Legislative Council, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council. The appointment is then made by the Governor.
  • Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing an impeachment motion by the state assembly.

 

SMILE-75 Initiative

Source: PIB

Direction: Keep a note of it to be used as an example (in Mains) or as facts (for prelims)

Context: The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has launched the “SMILE-75 Initiative”.

About SMILE-75 initiative

  • SMILE (Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise Scheme) is aimed at making cities/towns and municipal areas begging-free and comprehensive rehabilitation of the persons engaged in the act of begging.
  • Under the initiative, seventy-five (75) Municipal Corporations in collaboration with NGOs and other stakeholders will cover several comprehensive welfare measures for persons who are engaged in the act of begging.

Measures taken: rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities, counselling, awareness, education, skill development, economic linkages and convergence with other Government welfare programmes etc.

Beggars In India:

  • According to the Census 2011 total number of beggars in India is over 4 lakhs.
  • West Bengal tops the chart followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
  • Legal Status: Though there is no central law on begging, some states have adopted the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which penalises beggary.

 

UN Sanction: JeM deputy chief

Source: The Hindu

Direction: This is in continuation of yesterday’s CA (facts for prelims) “ UN Sanction Regime”

Context: China has thwarted a joint India-U.S. bid to list Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) deputy chief Rauf Asghar as a UN Security Council-designated ‘Global Terrorist’ by placing a “technical hold” on the process.

Who is Rauf Asghar: He is the brother of JeM leader Masood Azhar, and is accused of masterminding a number of terror attacks from the IC-814 hijacking in 1999, the Parliament attack in 2001, as well as a number of attacks on security forces personnel from 2014-2019, including the strikes on the Air Force base in Pathankot, Army camps in Kathua, Nagrota, Sanjwan and other locations.

  • He is arrested in Pakistan and convicted of terror financing charges.
  • Mohammad (also called the Jaish-i-Mohammad) along with Rauf Asghar, Omar Saeed was convicted for the killing of American journalist Danny Pearl.

What does ‘technical hold’ mean?

  • Beijing’s “technical hold”, which means the proposal cannot come up for another six months.
    • China’s double standards: Its technical hold shows China is having “double standards” on terrorism and related activities.

Resolution 1267:

  • Resolution 1267 provides for sanctions against individuals and entities that support or finance the acts or activities of ISIL, Al-Qaida, associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities.
    • LeT, JuD, Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed and it’s head Masood Azharare listed under 1267.

Previously, the UN designated Jaish-e-Mohammad as a terrorist organisation in 2001 and Masood Azhar was only designated in 2019 as a ‘global terrorist’.

  • Also, India and the US proposal to designate Abdul Rehman Makki(brother-in-law of Hafiz Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Toiba) under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 were put on ‘technical hold’ by China.

 

Universal Postal Union

Source: Business standards

Direction: Amendments are not so important. Just read about UPU once.

Context: Cabinet has approved the ratification of amendments to the Constitution of the Universal Postal Union(UPU).

About UPU:

  • It is a UN specialized agency, established in 1874 by the Treaty of Bern (UPU Hq: Bern, Switzerland)
  • Aim: For cooperation between postal sector in different countries.
  • Members: Currently 192 members (India became its member in 1876)
    • Any member or non of the United Nations may become a member of the UPU, provided a non-members’ request is approved by at least two-thirds of the member countries of the UPU.

 

Trans-Himalayan network


Source: Times of India

Context: China and Nepal have agreed to build the so-called Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network,

The network, under China’s Belt and Road initiative, will involve the building of railways and communication networks.

Other networks: The BCIM economic corridor aims to connect Kolkata with Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan province through Myanmar and Bangladesh. It envisages the formation of a thriving economic belt, focusing on cross-border transport, energy and telecommunication networks.

 

Move towards protectionism

Source: Times of India

Direction: Go through it once to understand the trajectory of economic policy. Not so important. No need to remember facts.

Context: Data shows, that since 2018-19, the government has switched from liberalism to protectionism on account of its import substitution.

  • Protectionism: the theory or practice of shielding a country’s domestic industries from foreign competition by taxing imports.

In the last two decades, there has been a trend to reduce customs duty (liberalization). However, since budget 2018-19, the government changed policy and has since increased customs duty (protectionism) in order to further incentivise domestic value addition.

The issue with such a policy: The government has used custom duties as a revenue-raising instrument. But, a central principle of public finance does not allow the customs duties to be used as a revenue instrument.

  • Increases in customs duties should be strictly reserved for the protection of new industries.

History of tariff setting in India

  • British Era: Since 1882, Britain had followed a policy of complete free trade in India.
  • Indian Fiscal Commission of 1921-22 recommended that custom duty has a protective role to play, as initial protection is important to withstand foreign competition. It recommended the establishment of a tariff boardfor the grant of protective duties.
  • First Tariff Boardwas appointed in 1923. It granted protection to the iron and steel industry.
  • After Independence, India tried to follow liberal policy, however, in face of the BOP crisis (1957-58), strict import licensing was adopted. In the 1970s, the licence-permit raj erawas ushered in. It was only in the 1991 reform, that the government eliminated import licensing.

 

Issues with the growth pattern in India

Source: Live Mint

Direction: Go through it once. No need to make notes. Although no direct Qn is expected but is important for holistic knowledge and elimination of options.

Context: As India reaches 75 years of Independence, we look at the present development pattern with the national income at the time of independence.

Growth Pattern:

  • 1900-01 to 1946-47: National income growth was 1% per annum.
    • National Income: the total amount of money earned within a country.
  • 1950-51 to 2019-20: GDP has doubled every 14 years and the GDP per capita has doubled every 24 years.
  • India’s rapid economic growth since 1980 has led to a substantial reduction in absolute poverty

Issues:

  • Comparison with East or Southeast Asia economies: They have performed better than the Indian Economy. For example, the per capita income as a proportion of that of the world economy rose from 12% to 18% for India, 13% to 87% for China, and 10% to 35% for Indonesia.
  • Growing equality: Economic growth in India has been associated with unequal outcomesthat have created divides between regions, sectors, and people.
  • Regional divide: Western and Southern India have developed more than the east and north of India.
  • Widening gap between richer and poorer states.
  • 1950-51 to 2019-20: the agricultural sector’s share in GDP fell from 58% to 15%.
  • World Inequality Report 2021, estimated that the top 1% held as much as 33% of total wealth in India and the top 10% held 65% of total wealth.

Solutions:

Economic growth can be transformed into meaningful development only if it brings about an improvement in the living conditions of people. It is essential to recognize that employment is not only a source of growth but also a means of mobilizing people, which is the most abundant resource for development in India.

 

Electromagnetic Field(EMF) Emissions

Direction: Go through it once

Context: Several steps taken by the government to reduce Electromagnetic Field(EMF) Emissions.

EMF: They are invisible areas of energy, often referred to as Radiation, that is associated with the use of electrical power and various forms of natural and man-made lighting.

Sources: Natural Sources (such as thunderstorms, and the earth’s magnetic field) and Human-made sources (such as medical equipment using static fields (e.g. MRI), wireless, telecommunications and broadcasting equipment)

Issues: Above certain levels of radiation, EMF emissions can be harmful to health and affect the human body as well as that of animals in different ways depending on their frequency.

Government steps:

  • EMF emissions from mobile towers (they are non-ionizing Radio frequencies and not dangerous): Electromagnetic Field (EMF) emissions norms from mobile towers in India are already ten times more stringent (even lower) than the safe limits recommended by WHO.
  • Monitoring of EMF emissions: Telecom Service Providers(TSPs) are to adhere to the prescribed norms including the submission of a self-certificate before the commercial start of the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) site.
  • EMF audit by the field units of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)
  • Penalty and shut down of services if found non-compliant.

 

Low Altitude Escape Motor (LEM)

Source: Business Standards

Context: ISRO successfully carried out the test-firing of the Low Altitude Escape Motor (LEM) of the Crew Escape System, from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh for the Gaganyaan Project.

The Crew Escape System (CES) takes away the Crew module of the Gaganyaan mission in case of any eventuality and rescues the astronauts. In case of mission-abort during the initial phase of flight, LEM provides the required thrust to CES, to take away Crew Module from the launch vehicle.

The LEM is a distinctive special purpose solid rocket motor with four reverse flow nozzles and generates a maximum sea level thrust of 842 kN (nominal) with a burn time of 5.98 seconds (nominal).

 

Drugs shortage haunts the HIV-positive community

Source: The Hindu

Context: People Living with HIV (PLHIV) are facing an acute shortage of life-saving drugs, say protesters who have been camping outside the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) office in the capital for over 15 days now.

  • As an interim measure, certain State AIDS Control Societies also procured small quantities of the drugs locally.
  • But a quality test revealed that some drugs did not meet the quality standards prescribed by the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules, raising concerns about substandard drugs entering the supply chain

 

About NACO:

NACO, functioning under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is a nodal agency responsible for overlooking and coordinating activities of the National AIDS Control Program (NACP).

HIV drugs:

  • Dolutegravir
  • Lopinavir
  • Ritonavir
  • Abacavir

Antiretroviral therapy:

 

Genes that can increase drought resistance in plants

Source: Down To Earth

Context: Recent study shows that African ‘orphan’ crop varieties help plants battle high temperatures.

Orphan crops are nutritious local food crops that could play a crucial role in combating hunger. These crops are not traded internationally but have adapted themselves to grow in harsh weather conditions.

African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC), works to address food security on the continent. The consortium had identified genes that were high temperature tolerant, had increased salinity adaptability and had low water requirements that provided essential nutrition.

This might be a solution to growing concerns of climate change hampering crop productivity.

Examples of Orphan Crops are buckwheat [Fagopyrum esculentum], quinoa [Chenopodium quinoa]), root crops (e.g., cassava [Manihot esculenta], sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas], and yam [Dioscorea spp.]), and legumes.


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