Print Friendly, PDF & Email

[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 23 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 2:

1. MGNREGS

2. Delhi excise policy

3. Not centres of learning yet

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Explained: How should public sector banks be privatized?

2. Women in Science

 

GS Paper 4:

1. Ethics of Philanthropy

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (Ethics/Essay)

1. Vedh Project

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Pandurang Khankhoje

2. Cloudburst

3. Legal Aid Defense Counsel System (LADCS)

4. MoU for smooth movement of seafarers

5. New norms to ease doing business

6. Geothermal Power

7. Forever chemicals

8. Pacific Bluefin Tuna

9. Tomato flu

10. International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA)


 

MGNREGS

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions

 

Source: Factly

Direction: A few recommendations can be incorporated into your Mains notes. It is an important scheme. Do know basic facts about it.

 

Context: Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj’ released an action taken report on MGNREGA. The government has accepted 26 of the 33 recommendations made.

 

Suggestions by the Panel and action taken

      • Increase number of work days to 150 (from the current 100): However, it has been implemented only in drought/calamity hit areas (by providing 50 additional days) and in some states (using their own fund) e.g., Uttarakhand(150 days)
      • Promote women-centric work: Despite efforts to involve more women, women’s participation has stagnated at around 50% in the last 5 years.
      • Increase in wages and link it with inflation: But currently, it is linked with CPI-AL (agriculture labour)
      • Timely funding: Currently, (as per a study) wage payments were delayed for 71 per cent of the transactions beyond the mandated seven days
      • Convergence of various rural development schemes along with MGNREGA as it would help address rural poverty
      • Doorstep medical facilities for job cardholders have been recommended by the committee
      • Roll back the system of caste-based wages, under which NREGS workers are paid based on whether they belong to a Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, or Others, with the earlier system by which a single Fund Transfer Order.

 

About MGNREGS:

It guarantees “the right to work”, by legally providing at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India.

      • Implementation: The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) in association with state governments. It is a centrally-sponsored scheme.
      • Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded (demand-driven scheme), wage employment will be provided to the applicant, and allowances in case employment are not provided.
      • Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory
      • Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat approve the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.

Insta Links

MGNREGS

Mains Links

Discuss the key features and significance of MGNREGA.

Prelims Links

Link it with what are the roles of Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, States, State Food Commission, and Centre, who conducts the social audit.

The controversy around the Delhi excise policy

GS paper 3

Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions

 

Source: The Hindu, The New Indian Express

Directions: Just know the issue. No need to take notes.

Context: Recent controversy around, now scrapped, Delhi Excise Policy

Understanding the issue: Delhi government introduced a new “New Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22” last year, in order to ensure the complete withdrawal of the government from the liquor business and handing over licences to the private sector.

    • Until the policy was introduced, the liquor business was a state-controlled entity with no private players.

Initially, it did help the government increase revenue by 27 per cent to Rs 8,900 crores and removal of the dominance of the liquor mafia.

However, issue with the Policy:

      • Location of vends near schools, religious places of new shops.
      • Violations related to non-conforming areas where certain businesses such as liquor retail are not allowed
      • Issues related to discounts and schemes such as 1+1
      • Surrendering of license: Only 468 of the around 850 liquor vends could actually open

The controversy around Mr Sisodia: He holds the excise portfolio, and is under the lens for allegedly providing “undue financial favours” to liquor licensees.

 

Mains Link:

Q. The New Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22, sought to ensure optimum revenue for the State government. Critically analyze.

 

Prelims link:

What is Excise?

An excise or excise tax (sometimes called an excise duty) is a type of tax charged on goods produced within the country (as opposed to customs duties, charged on goods from outside the country). It is a tax on the production or sale of a good.

Not centres of learning yet

GS paper 2

Syllabus: Issues related to the development of the social sector

 

Source: The Hindu

Directions: This is an editorial article. Government Programmes such as ICDS, and Swachh Bharat are important. Always have a few points ready for them.

 Context: Anganwadi system, part of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) serves over 30 million children in the age group of 3-6 in 1.3 million centres across the country.

 Issue of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS):

    • On Attendance:
        • The ICDS scheme is designed to support all children under six with their health, nutrition, and education needs.
            • Over 70% of children are enrolled in Anganwadis in India but ICDS is plagued by low attendance.
    • Role of parents:
        • Not willing to speak parents’ language: In ICDS reports, parents are routinely addressed as “beneficiaries” — passive recipients of ration, immunization camps, and lately, education.
        • Focus on English language and math skills: Most of parents feel their kids’ best pathway for social mobility through education is via learning English (speaking and writing) and math skills.

 

Solutions: 

      • ECCE curricula: It focuses on local language-driven, play-based pedagogy, and activity-based learning, facilitated by a skilled educator.
      • Exploring and manipulating their physical environments to develop early language, early numeracy, socio-emotional, executive function, and motor skills.
      • Focus on developing cognitive, literacy and numeracy skills in children
      • Regular parents-teacher meetings: E.g. Shiksha Choupals (parent-teacher meetings)
      • Engagement with parents: Regular messages can be shared with the parents to equip them on the nature of engagement expected from their kids.

 

Conclusion:

      • Parents as stakeholders: A mass campaign for awareness of age-appropriate ECCE that brings parents in as stakeholders, is crucial in the next five years — our youngest children, and their developing brains, deserve no less.
      • ‘abhibhavak-bhagidari’ (participation of parents): In the ECCE ecosystem, we need to embrace the power of ‘abhibhavak-bhagidari’ (participation of parents) to activate Anganwadi 2.0.

 

Insta Links:

Integrated Child Development Scheme

 

Mains Links:

Q. The concept of Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme is almost a century old in India with early beginnings in the Madras Presidency in pre-independent India. The scheme has again been given impetus in most states in the last two decades. Critically examine its twin objectives, latest mandates and success.(UPSC 2013)

 

Prelims links:

Which of the following is/are beneficiaries under ICDS(Anganwadi services)?

  1. Children(0-6 years)
  2. Pregnant women
  3. Lactating mothers

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a. 1 only

b. 1 and 3 only

c. 2 only

d. 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (d)

Justification:

All three are beneficiaries under ICDS

Explained: How should public sector banks be privatized?

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Banking

 

Source: Indian Express

Direction: This is an editorial explained article. We had already discussed this issue in detail in last month’s articleThis article will add only unique points left out. Just note a few important points on nationalization (not every point should be noted down)

Context: In the Union Budget 2021-22, the government announced its decision to privatise two public sector banks.

A recent paper by Poonam Gupta of NCAER and Arvind Panagariya argues that “the government should move as rapidly as politically feasible”. Meaning privatizing all except the State Bank of India.

 

Why Privatize?  (As per the study)

  • Private sector banks are far more efficient, far more productive and far less corrupt than the PSBs.
  • Private banks had a greater contribution towards extending loans. They also had a higher percentage of contribution to getting deposits from savers.
  • Private banks added more branches and created new jobs while the public sector banks saw declines on both counts.
  • More often than not public sector banks have been disproportionately guilty of fraud.

 

Why not Privatize?

  • In a paper titled “Privatization of Public Sector Banks: An Alternate Perspective” by RBI “a big bang approach of privatization of these (public sector or government-owned) banks may do more harm than good”.
  • Rural reach: While the private banks dominate the metropolitan areas, it is the public sector banks that operate branches in rural India.
  • PSBs provide more ATMs in rural India.
  • Social relevance: E.g., Private sector banks accounted for just 1.3 crores of the total of almost 46 crore beneficiaries of PM Jan Dhan Yojana.
  • PSB is better in financial inclusion: On profit maximization, Private banks are more efficient but when the objective is financial inclusion—PSBs are better.
  • Infrastructure finance: PSBs have a lion’s share in these lendings.
  • PSBs are also more effective in monetary policy transmission, aiding the countercyclical monetary policy actions to gain traction.

Conclusion:

Private ownership alone does not automatically generate economic gains in developing economies’ and a more cautious and nuanced evaluation of privatization is required.

 

Insta Links

Nationalization of Banks

 

Practice Questions

Q. What were the factors that led to the nationalisation of banks? Examine its impact on economic development and job creation. (15M)

Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)

  1. Coal sector was nationalized by the Government of India under Indira Gandhi.
  2. Now, coal blocks are allocated on a lottery basis
  3. Till recently, India imported coal to meet the shortages of domestic supply, but now India is self-sufficient in coal production.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: A

Both statement 2 and 3 are incorrect. Coal is allotted in auction and India still imports coals (especially coking coal)

The basic aim of Lead Bank Scheme is that ( UPSC 2012)

(a) big banks should try to open offices in each district

(b) there should be stiff competition among the various nationalized banks

(c) individual banks should adopt particular districts for intensive development

(d) all the banks should make intensive efforts to mobilize deposits

Answer: C

The Lead Bank Scheme, introduced in the year 1969, envisages the assignment of lead roles to individual banks for the districts allotted to them.

Women in Science

GS Paper 3 

Syllabus: Science and Technology

 

Source: Indian Express

Direction: Keep a rough note on women in various fields such as women in defence, women in the judiciary, women in parliament, women in the social sector, women freedom fighters, women revolutionaries, and so on. For this article, no need to remember data, just know the trend and a few schemes related to women.

Context: As per the Department of Science and Technology data, the number of women scientists has gone up in over the past two decades.

Findings:

    • Women among researchers: Increased from 13. 9% (2015) to 18.7% (2018)
    • Good number of participation of women till post-graduate level and then there is a drop at the post-doctoral level.
    • Women in Engineering (14.5%) < Women in natural Science (22.5%) < Women in Health (24.5%)

 Issues:

    •  World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked India at 135 out of 146 countries in its Global Gender Gap (GGG) Index for 2022.
    • The 2019 All India Survey on Higher Education shows a significant lag in female participation at doctoral levels, partly owing to the pressures of marriage and family planning.
    • Other issues: Loneliness of being an outlier in a male domain, where biases are rampant and getting oneself heard, a constant struggle, glass-ceiling effect.
        • Women scientists often have to shoulder a disproportionate burden of academic housekeeping in comparison to their male counterparts.

 

Some famous names: Tessy Thomas, Soumya Swaminathan, Gagandeep Kang, N Kalaiselvi, and Annapurni Subramaniam.

Government measures:

      • Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2020 target of 30 per cent of women at a post-doctoral level by 2030.
      • GATI (by DST) a grading system for institutes based on the enrollment of and impetus to the careers of women in its ranks (it is based on the UK’s Athena Swan Charter)
      • The Athena Swan Charteris a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research.
      • KIRAN (Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through nurturing) Scheme to encourage women Scientists
      • CURIE: For infrastructure in women’s universities
      • Vigyan Jyoti Scheme: Encourage girls in high school to pursue STEM
      • Indo-US Fellowship for Women in STEMM (STEM and Medicine)

 

Conclusion:

While policies and leadership roles are excellent incentive models, the further benefit could come from a system of mentoring and availability of funds, especially for those who want to get back into the workforce after a hiatus.

 

Insta Links

Mains Links

Link it with women’s contribution in various fields and challenges they face e.g., last year UPSC asked Qn on Women in the judiciary.

Q. Counting more women in science and applied technologies is dire for the progress of society. Discuss. (15M)

Prelims Links

Link it with various schemes for women.

Ethics of Philanthropy

GS Paper 4

 

Source: Live Mint

“We must consider the time and the place, and the character of the receiver, which is the weights in the scale, which cause our gifts to be well or ill received.” – Seneca

Philanthropy can be defined as an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes.

Philanthropy in India:

In pre-independent India, Mahatma Gandhi encouraged businessmen to contribute their wealth for the betterment of society. Industrialists like Jamnalal Bajaj and G.D. Birla supported Mahatma Gandhi’s initiatives during the freedom movement while pursuing their own philanthropic interests.

Philanthropy in the West:

America: Carnegie-Rockefeller era of philanthropy.

    • Andrew Carnegie built impressive institutions (like Carnegie Library and Carnegie Mellon University), but also inspired (and instigated) the rich; the last line of his book reads: “The man who dies rich, dies disgraced.”
    • The Rockefeller Foundation also developed the vaccine to eradicate yellow fever. Both Carnegie and Rockefeller became role models, inspiring generations (including myself) to give away their wealth to improve society.

 

Issues with Philanthropy:

    • The parochial nature of giving, which risks some of the poorest regions being ignored
    • Programmatic giving which doesn’t add up (example: a number of foundations and NGOs work on school education, yet learning outcomes have not improved).
    • A recipient may violate the donor’s intent in spirit or in law.
    • A donor’s activities may be considered incompatible with those of the institution’s mission.
    • Recipient may be perceived as complicit with or oblivious to a donor’s unethical practices, thus tainting its own good name, especially when an institution grants naming rights.
    • A donor may receive a quid pro quofor all or part of a donation.

 

The way forward for philanthropy in India:

    • Build institutions: Donors can fund think-tanks and build area-specific (say, on energy transition) or geography-specific (such as eastern Uttar Pradesh) institutions.
    • For Eg: The Tata family built the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Tata Memorial Hospital, etc.
    • Fund risky R&D for the government:
    • For example, Nandan Nilekani built an innovation ecosystem such as Aadhaar, UPI and eKYC.
    • Support governments to improve delivery:Partnering with the government as a philanthropic entity is the most effective way to make a scalable and sustainable impact.
    • For Eg: The Piramal Foundation is supporting the Aspirational Districts collective
    • Veddis Foundation is funding initiatives to improve the evidence base and outcome orientation of governments.

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (Ethics/Essay)


Vedh Project

Context: As part of a pilot project, the Ashramshalas, residential schools covered under the Tribal Development Project Office, in Nandurbar taluka in Maharashtra, have been experimenting with a unique way to learn.

The pilot, called ‘Vedh Project’, is based on the novel concept of heutagogy, a student-centred instructional strategy. 

Here, teachers are facilitators, who, instead of following the fixed pattern of facing the class and conducting lessons, set challenges for students and encourage them to learn their curricula by developing innovative methods on their own, in the form of group activities.


Facts for Prelims


Pandurang Khankhoje

Source: Indian Express

Direction: Just go though once.

 Context: Speaker Om Birla will unveil a statue of the freedom fighter and agricultural scientist during his visit to Mexico.

About:

Pandurang Khankhoje (1883-1967) was a Maharashtra-born freedom fighter and agriculturalist.

Contribution:

      • Khankhoje was one of the founding members of the Ghadar Party, established by Indians living abroad in 1914, mostly belonging to Punjab.
      • He was a professor at the National School of Agriculture in Chapingo, near Mexico City. He researched corn, wheat, pulses and rubber, developing frost and drought-resistant varieties, and was part of efforts to bring in the Green Revolution in Mexico.
      • Later on, the American agronomist Dr Norman Borlaug, called the Father of the Green Revolution in India, brought the Mexican wheat variety to Punjab.

 

What are cloudburst incidents and are they rising across India

Source: Indian Express

Directions: Cloudburst has been in the news continuously, so try to understand this concept.

 Context: Over 20 people have been killed in the destruction caused by cloudbursts and flash floods in different parts of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand recently.

A cloudburst is a localised but intense rainfall activity. Short spells of very heavy rainfall over a small geographical area can cause widespread destruction, especially in hilly regions where this phenomenon is the most common.

A cloudburst has a very specific definition: Rainfall of 10 cm or more in an hour over a roughly 10 km x 10-km area is classified as a cloudburst event.

Cloudbursts are not uncommon events, particularly during the monsoon months. Most of these happen in the Himalayan states where the local topology, wind systems, and temperature gradients between the lower and upper atmosphere facilitate the occurrence of such events.

Can cloudbursts be forecast?

Specific cloudburst events cannot be forecast. No forecast ever mentions a possibility of a cloudburst. But there are warnings for heavy to very heavy rainfall events, and these are routinely forecast four to five days in advance.

Frequency of Cloudburst:

While the overall amount of rainfall in India has not changed substantially, an increasing proportion of the rainfall is happening in a short span of time. This kind of pattern, attributed to climate change, does suggest that cloudburst events might also be on the rise.

 

 

Legal Aid Defense Counsel System (LADCS)

Source: Live Law

Direction: Know the basics of NALSA and its programme, and how it helps attain the constitutional promise of free legal aid (Article 39A)

 Context: NALSA has launched LADCS with full-time legal aid lawyers in 365 district legal services authorities across India.

 What is LADC?

LADC is a NALSA-funded project to provide free legal aid (in line with the Public defender system) to accused persons to defend themselves in criminal trials.

About NALSA:

NALSA has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free legal services to weaker sections of society.

‘Nyaya Deep’ is the official newsletter of NALSA.

Composition: Chief Justice of India shall be the Patron-in-Chief, Second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court of India is the Executive-Chairman.

Achievements of NALSA:

  • Outreach programme: where the legal service authorities were able to effectively reach out to the villages and provide timely legal aid.
  • Number of resolved Lok Adalat cases crossed the 1 crore mark.

Issues remaining: Number of cases with NALSA especially on the criminal side is only about 10-12% (while the rest of the marginalized population was engaging in private counsel at exorbitant cost)

 

India, Iran sign MoU for smooth movement of seafarers between both countries

Source: The Hindu

 

Context: India and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on recognition of Certificates of Competency in Unlimited Voyages to help seafarers from both countries as per the provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (1978).

A seafarer voyage means an uninterrupted period when the sailor carries out his assigned duties or performs work assigned on board a ship

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers(STCW) 1978 convention:

  • It sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships.
  • STCW was adopted in 1978 by a conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO)in London and entered into force in 1984.
  • The 1978 STCW Convention was the first to establish basic requirements for training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level.

  

New norms to ease doing business

Source: Financial Express

Direction: Go through it once.

Context: Loan defaulters and entities under probe need NOC to invest overseas

Aim: The new norms for Indian investors are aimed at making it easier for domestic corporates to invest abroad while making it tougher for loan defaulters and others being probed by investigative agencies and regulators to shift funds out of the country.

New Norms:

  • Subsume all norms on overseas investments: The new norms under the Overseas Investment Rules and Regulations, notified under the Foreign Exchange Management Act and administered by the RBI.
  • ‘No-go sectors’: Indian residents are not allowed to make investments in foreign entities that are engaged in real estate activity, or gambling in any form.
  • NOC: Bank defaulters and fraudsters need to have a No objection certificate to acquire assets abroad.
  • ‘60-day timeline’: If authorities/banks fail to furnish the NOC within 60 days of receiving an application, it may be presumed that they have no objection to the proposed transaction.

Geothermal Power

Context: ONGC stated drilling its first well at Puga (Ladakh) to generate electricity using geothermal power to reduce the dependence of Ladakh on diesel-run generators.

About Puga

Puga hot spring area, located at the junction of the Indian and Tibetan plates along the Indus Suture Zone, has the greatest potential for the near-term development of geothermal energy in the Indian subcontinent

Potential of Geothermal Power

  • As per the Geological Survey of India, there are around 340 geothermal hot springs in India (e.g., Chummathang (Ladakh), Cambay (Gujarat), Khammam (Telangana), Tattapani (Chattisgarh), and Ratnagiri (MH)
  • Though India has been one of the earliest countries to begin geothermal projects way back in the 1970s, but at present, there are no operational geothermal plants in India.
  • The top five countriesin terms of geothermal power generation are the US, Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico and New Zealand

 

Forever chemicals

Source: Indian Express

Context: A recent study published in Environment Science and Technology has found that rainwater from many places across the globe is contaminated with “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances,” (PFAs), which are called “forever chemicals” because of their tendency to stick around in the atmosphere, rainwater and soil for long periods of time.

According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAs are man-made chemicals used to make nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, cosmetics, firefighting forms and many other products that resist grease, water and oil.

 

 

Pacific Bluefin Tuna

Source: DownToEarth

Context: Concerted effort by countries like the United States, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Mexico for decades to check overfishing, has reaped results. The biomass of the Pacific Bluefin Tuna has increased and is second-highest in recorded history.

 

The Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus Orientalis) is a predatory species of tuna found widely in the northern Pacific Ocean, but it is migratory and also recorded as a visitor to the south Pacific.

 

Tomato flu

Source: The Hindu

Direction: Go through it once. No need to make a note.

Context: A new infection dubbed tomato flu, or tomato fever, has been detected in India mostly among children younger than five, according to a report in the Lancet Respiratory Journal.

About Tomato Flu:

  • The ‘tomato flu’ is caused by Coxsackie virus A 16. It belongs to the Enterovirus family. 
  • The flu (viral) gets its name because of the red blister it causes.
  • Flu affects children below five years of age.
  • Symptoms include rashes, high fever, joint pains, skin irritation and dehydration (similar to those of chikungunya, dengue as well as hand, foot, and mouth disease)
  • This flu is a self-limiting one and there is no specific drug for this. This means that the symptoms will resolve over time on their own if supportive care is given.
  • Like other cases of flu, tomato fever is also contagious. “If someone is infected with this flu, they need to be kept in isolation as this could spread rapidly from one person to another.

 

India clinches 3rd position in International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA)

Source: DownToEarth

India was placed jointly in the third position along with Singapore, behind Iran’s official team (5 golds) and guest team (4 golds, 1 silver).

209 students from 37 main and 06 guest teams participated in this year’s IOAA. This year’s competition was originally scheduled to be held in Kyiv, Ukraine; it was shifted to Kutaisi, Georgia in March 2022 due to the war in Ukraine.


Join our Official Telegram Channel HERE

Please subscribe to Our podcast channel HERE

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE

Follow our Twitter Account HERE

Follow our Instagram ID HERE