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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 9 February 2023

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 ina 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. ‘Victory City’: A brief history of the kingdom of Vijayanagara

 

GS Paper2:

  1. 50 Years of Bilateral ties (India-Qatar and India-South Korea)

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. RBI hikes Repo rate by 25 bps to 6.5%, what impact will this have?
  2. India’s big millets push, and why it makes sense to have these grains
  3. NCAER Report on Farm Machinery Industry in India presented to MoS (Agriculture)
  4. A Nordic-India Connection to power a green transition
  5. Analysis | A devastating quake in Turkey recalls the tragedies awaiting India

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. World’s brightest” students

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. ASI’s Keeladi report pushes Sangam age further back to 800 BCE
  2. Dhamaal
  3. How are state police chiefs appointed?
  4. The status and proceeds of disinvestment
  5. Quasicrystals
  6. QR code-based Coin Vending Machine (QCVM)
  7. Marine protected areas (MPA)

 

‘Victory City’: A brief history of the kingdom of Vijayanagara

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Ancient India: Vijayanagara Kingdom

 

Source: Indian Express

 Context: Salman Rushdie released a new novel “Victory City” – a fictionalized story of the Vijayanagara Kingdom.

  

About Vijaynagara Kingdom: 1336 AD – 1646 AD

  • Founded by Harihara I of the Sangama dynasty, Vijayanagara expanded from a strategic position on the banks of the Tungabhadra river with Hampi as its capital.
  • The kingdom reached its peak under Krishna Deva Raya (reign 1509-1529), a period in which it enjoyed military superiority to its rival kingdoms such as the Bahmani Sultanate, the Golconda Sultanate, and the Gajapatis of Odisha. 

 

Economy:

  • Largely dependent on agriculture, trade thrived in its many ports on either coast.
  • Traveller Abd al-Razzaq Samarqandi chronicled how “the ports of Mangalore, Honavar, Bhatkal, Barkur, Cochin, Cannanore, Machilipatnam, and Dharmadam saw traders from Africa, Arabia, Aden, the Red sea, China and Bengal and also served as shipbuilding centres”.
  • The empire’s principal exports were pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, myrobalan, tamarind, timber, anafistula, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, musk, ambergris, rhubarb, aloe, cotton cloth, and porcelain.
  • Coins were minted by the state as well as by merchant guilds using gold, silver, copper, and brass, and their value depended on material weight.

  

Architecture and Literature:

  • Literature in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, as well as Sanskrit, was produced in the kingdom, with new writing styles and methods emerging.
  • Vijayanagara architecture is “a vibrant combination and blossoming of the Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya and Chola styles,”
  • The Prasanna Virupaksha temple of Bukka I and the Hazara Rama temple of Krishna Deva Raya are striking examples of Vijayanagara’s characteristic style and intricate artistry.

  

Vijayanagara’s capital Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its sophisticated fortifications as well as innumerable temples and other architectural marvels. From accounts of foreign travellers, by the beginning of the 16th century, Hampi-Vijayanagara was probably the second-largest urban settlement on the planet (after Beijing).

  

Insta Link:

Vijayanagar Kingdom

 

Prelims Link: UPSC 2019

Building ‘Kalyaana Mandapas’ was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of

(a) Chalukya

(b) Chandela

(c) Rashtrakuta

(d) Vijayanagara

 

Answer: D

 

Mains Link: UPSC 2016

Q. Krishnadeva Raya, the King of Vijayanagar, was not only an accomplished scholar himself but was also a great patron of learning and literature. Discuss.

50 Years of Bilateral ties (India-Qatar and India-South Korea)

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Bilateral Relations

 

Source: PIB, IE

 Direction: We had already covered India-Qatar ties, here we have presented the basic facts in tabular format and added new points

  

Context: The year 2023 marks 50 years (ties established in 1973) of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between India and Qatar as well as India-South Korea

 

Mnemonics: You may remember areas of Cooperation using the keyword: PEDCAP – Political, Economic, Defence, Cultural, Arts and People

Area of CooperationIndia-Qatar StatusExamples
Political RelationsStrong and friendly·         Regular high-level visits, Joint Commission Meetings
Economic & CommercialStrong trade ties·         Qatar’s key exports to India include LNG, LPG, chemicals and petrochemicals, fertilisers, plastics, and aluminium articles,

·         India’s key exports to Qatar include cereals, copper articles, iron and steel articles, vegetables, fruits

·         In 2021, India was among the top four largest export destinations for Qatar and is also among the top three sources of Qatar’s imports 

·         India-Qatar Start-up bridge is a joint initiative to link the start-up ecosystems of two countries

EnergyMajor energy partner·         Qatar is one of the largest suppliers of LNG to India, Investment by Qatar in the Indian energy sector
Defence & SecurityDefence cooperation·         Joint military exercises: Za’ir-Al-Bahr (Roar of Sea) is a naval exercise between the Indian and Qatar Navy

·         Defence equipment procurement

·         Maritime relations: Interaction between Indian Ports and Qatari Ports

Cultural ExchangesVibrant cultural exchanges·         Cultural festivals showcasing Indian and Qatari arts and heritage, Exchange programs for artists and intellectuals
People-to-People TiesThe significant Indian ex-pat community in Qatar·         Large Indian community in Qatar (over 8 lakh), and close ties between the two countries through expatriates

·         Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) sent Covid medical relief material to India

·         14 Indian schools in Qatar are offering CBSE curricula

 

India-South Korea Ties: Bilateral consular relations were established in 1962 & upgraded to diplomatic ties (Ambassador-level) in 1973.

  • On this occasion, a walking pilgrimage (by a group of 108 Buddhist monks from South Korea) will begin from Sarnath in Varanasi and culminate at Shravasti after traversing through Nepal to mark 50 years of India-South Korea diplomatic ties and trace the path Lord Budhha followed.

 

Area of CooperationIndia-South Korea StatusExamples
Political RelationsStrong and friendly·         Regular high-level visits: E.g. 2+2 dialogue

·         Joint Commission Meetings: by coordinating India’s ‘Act East Policy’ with South Korea’s ‘New Southern Policy

·         Strategic Partnership (Strategic Partnership in 2010 which was upgraded to ‘special strategic partnership’ in 2015 and defence cooperation)

Economic & CommercialGrowing trade ties·         2022 bilateral trade: over USD 27 bn (Target is to reach USD 50 bn by 2030)

·         India-South Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) (2010)

·         ‘Korea Plus’ initiative to promote and facilitate Korean Investments in India such as joint ventures in electronics, automobiles and shipbuilding

EnergyGrowing energy cooperation·         Civil Nuclear energy Cooperation (2011)
Defence & SecurityDefence cooperation·         Joint military exercises, Defence equipment procurement
Cultural ExchangesVibrant cultural exchanges·         Buddhist Connection

·         “SamgukYusa” text (13th CE) says that  a Princess from Ayodhya married a Korean Prince and became Queen Hur(Heo) Hwang-ok in 48 AD

·         Cultural festivals showcasing Indian and Korean arts and heritage

People-to-People TiesGrowing ·         The significant Korean ex-pat community in India, Growing Indian community in South Korea

 

Insta Links

 

Mains Links:

India’s old ties are being reinvigorated in West Asia in recent times. Comment. What is its impact on India? (10M)

RBI hikes Repo rate by 25 bps to 6.5%, what impact will this have?

GS Paper 3

 

Syllabus: Indian Economic, Banking

 

Source: TH, TH, IE 

Context: The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) hiked the Repo rate (or the rate at which the RBI lends funds to banks), by 25 basis points to 6.50 per cent in a bid to rein in retail inflation.

  • RBI has projected GDP growth for the next fiscal (FY2024) at 6.4%

 

Impact of raising the Repo rate:

  • Lending rates of banks are expected to go up, leading to a rise in EMIs on vehicles, homes, and personal loans.
    • Over 43% of the total loans are linked to the Repo rate and are expected to rise now
  • Lower Inflation: The hike in the Repo rate is expected to help moderate inflation in the country as the cost of borrowing will increase and the demand of people will thus decrease.

 

What is a hawkish stance?

 

Reason for RBI’s hawkish stance: It could be due to its outlook on India’s slower economic growth and higher inflation in 2023-24.

 

This is box title
  • Monetary policy deals with the supply and cost of money in an economy.
  • The primary objective of the RBI’s monetary policy is to maintain price stability while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  • The amended RBI Act, 1934provides for the inflation target (4% +-2%) to be set by the Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank, once every five years.
  • The latest monetary policy review was significant because it was made to bring inflation back to the target level of 4%.

 

This is box title

As per the Amended (in 2016) RBI Act, 1934: The central government is empowered to constitute a six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to determine the Policy Rate required to achieve the inflation target”.

  • Its decisions are binding on the Bank.
  • Eligibility criteria to be a member: Must be from “persons of ability, integrity and standing, having knowledge and experience in the field of economics or banking or finance or monetary policy”

 

Insta Links

 

Prelims Links

Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)? ( UPSC 2017)

  1. It decides the RBI’s benchmark interest rates.
  2. It is a 12-member body including the Governor of RBI and is reconstituted every year.
  3. It functions under the chairmanship of the Union Finance Minister.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 2 and 3 only

 

Answer: A

 

If the RBI decides to adopt an expansionist monetary policy, which of the following would it not do? ( UPSC 2020)

  1. Cut and optimise the Statutory Liquidity Ratio
  2. Increase the Marginal Standing Facility Rate
  3. Cut the Bank Rate and Repo Rate

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Answer: B

India’s big millets push, and why it makes sense to have these grains

 GS Paper 3

 

Source: Indian Express

 

India’s efforts in pushing millets:

  • FSSAI: It will formulate guidelines to include millets in the food menu of schools, hospitals, and government canteens.
  • “Millets canteen” to produce millets-based foods (in hospitals)
  • The Youth Affairs Ministry: Webinars and conferences with leading athletes, nutritionists, and dieticians on millets through the Fit India app
  • Ministry of Food Processing Industries: It has organized millet fair-cum-exhibitions in different states.

 

What are the benefits of millet?

  • Eco-friendly: They require much less water than rice or wheat and can be grown in rain-fed areas without irrigation. They belong to the grass family & tend to be more tolerant to drought and extreme weather and can grow in poor soil and hilly areas.
  • Healthy: Millets can be a healthier option to keep lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes at bay.
  • Millets have a much lower glycemic index — a measure of how much blood sugar levels spike after consuming a food item — than processed rice or wheat.
  • Millets are also high in fibre content which is known to improve gut microbiota.
  • They are rich in micronutrients such as iron and zinc, which can help reduce the country’s burden of anaemia.
  • Millets also contain niacin, which is linked to lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL or good cholesterol.
  • Millets contain no gluten and suit people with gluten allergy and irritable bowel syndrome.

NCAER Report on Farm Machinery Industry in India presented to MoS (Agriculture)

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Agriculture: Farm Mechanization

 

Source: PIB

 

Context: NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research) has released a report on “Making India a Global Power House on Farm Machinery Industry”.

  • The report analyzed the non-tractor farm machinery industry from both demand and supply side perspectives and provides recommendations for reforms based on global practices.

  

Farm Mechanization:

  • It refers to the use of machinery and equipment in agricultural operations. It involves the integration of various tools and technologies to automate and streamline various farming processes, including planting, tilling, harvesting, and transporting crops.

  

Key highlights of the report:

  • Recommends measures and reforms for India to become a production and export hub for non-tractor farm machinery in the next 15 years.
  • The farm power availability in India is much lower compared to other countries like Korea, Japan, and the USA.

  

Issues with Farm Mechanization:

  • Power supply: Availability of adequate farm power is very crucial for timely farm operations for increasing production and productivity and reducing losses.
  • Uneven distribution
  • A mismatch between the needs of Indian farmers and what the farm machinery sector is producing.
  • Banks are reluctant to lend to farmers.

  

Steps taken by the Government to promote Farm Mechanization:

  • Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization(SMAM), Drones promotion, etc.
  • Training and testing by FMTTIs of agricultural machines including tractors, power tillers, combine harvesters,
  • The institutes have provided a pool of over 2.3 lakh skilled professionals in the area of farm mechanization

A Nordic-India Connection to power a green transition

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environment Conservation/International Relations

 

Source: TH

 Context: The Nordic countries are ready to offer their technologies and expertise to India as it moves towards a green, digital, and innovative future.

 

The Nordic countries include the sovereign states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

 

Recent developments in India-Nordic countries’ relations:

  • The 2nd Nordic-India Summit (Copenhagen) 2022: Both agreed to intensify cooperation on digitalisation, renewable energy, maritime industries, and the circular economy.
  • Trade links: Trade between Norway and India has doubled (to $2 billion) in the last three years and it is likely to become one of India’s largest single foreign investors (around $17.6 billion).
  • Investment in renewable energy: Norway’s new Climate Investment Fund (for investments in renewables abroad) has invested almost ₹1,500 crores in India so far.
  • Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT): Launched by Sweden and India at the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019 and supported by the WEF, it gathers countries and companies that are committed to action to achieve the Paris Agreement.

  

Untapped potential:

  • Trade in services: tourism, education, IT, energy, maritime and financial services.

  

Way ahead:

  • Finalising a fair, equitable and balanced Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
    • Finland, as a member of the EU, is a part of the EU-India FTA negotiations, and Norway is negotiating through the European Free Trade Association.

  

Conclusion:

Insta Links:

Diplomatic Dispatch- 2nd India-NORDIC Summit

A devastating quake in Turkey recalls the tragedies awaiting India

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Disaster Management and Preparedness

 

Source: TH

  

Direction: The article highlights how India should use the recent earthquake in Turkey as a lesson and get ready for the future.

  

Why is Indian terrain prone to great earthquakes?

  • The political boundaries roughly follow the tectonic divides in the west, the north and the east.
  • The 2,500-km-long Himalayan plate boundary from the northwest to the northeast.
  • The historical release of geological tension doesn’t fully account for the strain that has built up.
    • For instance, the Central Himalayas has been historically deficient in earthquakes.
  • New dams at the foothills of the Himalayas.

 

The trend in annual losses from disasters: Has been markedly upward, mainly due to an increase in the aerial extent of habitation in vulnerable areas.

 

Way ahead:

  • Undertake a comprehensive study of the vulnerability of buildings and structures.
  • To ensure –
    • All new constructions (especially in high-risk zones) can resist shaking and
    • All existing buildings are protected by retrofitting.
  • In areas where traditional structures are more common, bolster traditional earthquake resistance
  • Must overhaul town and municipal planning by-laws to accommodate hazard-safety measures.
  • Use the appropriate building codes, developed by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
  • Develop an environmental land zonation scheme for urban and rural areas.
  • Translate detailed scientific knowledge on earthquake safety into a format that is easily available, accessible, and actionable
  • Real-time and free data-sharing should become a norm.

 

Conclusion:

The Turkey and the Joshimath disaster must be an eye-opener for Indian authorities to integrate development with disaster mitigation strategies, through systematic, long-term, cost-effective and grassroots community-based initiatives.

 

Insta Links:

Turkey Earthquake

 

Mains Links:

Q. Discuss about the vulnerability of India to earthquake-related hazards. Give examples including the salient features of major disasters caused by earthquakes in different parts of India during the last three decades. (UPSC 2021)

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)


World’s brightest” students

 Source: TH

 Natasha Perianayagam, a 13-year-old Indian-American schoolgirl, has been named on the “world’s brightest” students list for the second year in a row by the Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth

  • Values to learn from her life:
    • Hard Work
    • Diversity and Inclusion (She was one of 15,300 students from 76 countries)
    • Balance (Despite her academic achievements, Natasha still finds time to engage in hobbies such as doodling and reading, demonstrating the importance of finding a balance between work and leisure)

 

 


Facts for Prelims (FFP)


ASI’s Keeladi report pushes Sangam age further back to 800 BCE

 Source: The Hindu

 Context: The Sangam age has been pushed to 800 BCE based on the archaeological findings from an excavation carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India.

 

  • Based on the results of stratigraphy of the cultural deposits, the period of the Sangam era archaeological site has been placed between the 8th century BCE to the 3rd century CE(800 BCE and 300 CE)
  • Sangam age was believed to be between 300 BCE to 300 CE.
  • It has been classified into three periods:
    • The pre-early historic period between 800 BCE to 500 BCE
    • The mature early history between 500 BCE to the end of 1st century BCE
    • Post-early history from 1st century BCE to 300 CE

 

Dhamaal

 Source: DTE

 Context: A new documentary — has focused on the music and dance performances of the Siddi community in Gujarat, called Dhamaals.

 What are Dhamaals?

  • Dhamaal is a mix of Sufi and African (mostly East African) musical and dance traditions. It refers particularly to the spiritual practices of the Siddis of Gujarat.
  • The Siddis begin almost every Dhamaal song by blowing into a conch shell.
  • Instrument: East African percussion instruments like the musindo and the slow thumping of feet
  • Dhamaals are performed in memory of their spiritual leadersBava Gor, Mai Misra, Baba Habash and Sidi Nabi Sultan.
  • They are performed in two ways — Dance Dhamaal (sitting and dance position) and Baithaaki Dhamaal (only sitting position)

 

 

How are state police chiefs appointed?

 Source: IE

 Context: The Nagaland government has appointed Rupin Sharma as Director General of the state police after SC’s direction.

  • Previously, Nagaland had challenged the Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) recommendation of Sharma as the only candidate for the post.

  

The appointment process: 

The appointment of DGP (based on the SC 2006 judgment (Prakash Singh case):

  • DGP is selected from the three senior-most officers who have been empanelled for promotion by the UPSC “on the basis of their length of service, very good record, and range of experience for heading the police force”.
  • The empanelment committee selects the panel of three officers based on merit.
  • UPSC shall not put in the panel any officer with less than 6 months to retirement
  • DGP should have a fixed tenure of two years in the post, irrespective of retirement date

UPSC guidelines on the appointment process:

  • The list of eligible officers must have at least 30 years of service and be submitted to the UPSC six months before the incumbent DGP is to retire.
  • The 30-year rule may be relaxed to 25 years in certain states with the consent of the Centre

The Issue:

  • The process of appointment has faced challenges with at least four states having interim police chiefs and some cases of the Centre not following the Prakash Singh judgment.

 

The status and proceeds of disinvestment

Source: TH

The Indian government’s disinvestment target for 2023-24 is ₹51,000 crore, down 21% from the previous year and the lowest target in seven years.

  

Status of disinvestment:

  • The government has met its disinvestment targets only six times in the last three decades. The last time the government met its target was in 2018-19
  • In 2021-22, the government missed its high target of ₹1.75 lakh crore by a significant margin.
  • The planned privatisation of the Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India, and NMDC Steel are among the state-owned companies that will be divested in 2023-24.

 

Definition: Disinvestment refers to the sale of government assets or subsidiaries.

Need for disinvestment: The government may disinvest to reduce fiscal burden, finance the fiscal deficit, or encourage private ownership of assets.

 

Quasicrystals

 Source: TH

 Direction: The concept is technical and one needn’t go into so many details of Material science. Here we have taken the bare minimum, one needs to know from the UPSC perspective.

 

More about Quasicrystals:

It is challenging to create quasicrystals in a laboratory, and the way they form has always been a mystery. Scientists have found natural quasicrystals in three different sources:

  • Khatyrka meteorite (found in 2011 in Russia)
  • In the remains of the first atomic bomb detonated (the Trinity test, part of the Manhattan Project)
  • In a metallic fragment in the Sand Hills dunes in northern Nebraska (USA)

 

These three sources suggest that quasicrystals are formed under extreme conditions such as high pressure, high temperature, and heavy electric currents.

 

Usage: Quasicrystals have been used in surgical instruments, LED lights and nonstick frying pans. They have poor heat conductivity, which makes them good insulators

 

QR code-based Coin Vending Machine (QCVM)

 

Source: TH

 Context: To improve the distribution of coins, the RBI is preparing a pilot project on QCVM in collaboration with a few leading banks

 

What is the QCVM?

  • It is a cashless coin dispenser that dispenses coins in exchange for a bank account debit via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
  • Unlike traditional cash-based Coin Vending Machines, the QCVM would not require banknote tendering or validation.
  • This will offer ease and ready access to coins for customers via the UPI facility.

 

Marine protected areas (MPA)

Source: DTE

 Context: The ongoing fifth International MPA Congress discusses solutions to address funding gaps that marine protected areas (MPA) are facing.

 

Background:

  • Nations agreed to protect 30% of the planet’s lands and oceans by 2030 at the COP15 to the CBD held in 2022.
  • 70% of MPAs are underfunded.
  • Most current MPAs are located in coastal areas, while only 2% of the high seas are protected.

MPAs in India:

 Way ahead:

  • Funding options like UNEP FI (Finance Initiative) can be accessed.
  • Founded in 1992, UNEP FI was the first organisation to engage the finance sector on sustainability and incubated the Principles for Responsible Investment.

 

Insta Optional Links

 

PSIR

IE: The pact’s fine print (Indo-US technical relationship)

 

Economy:

IE: Counting her work: ES tries to address a policy problem to count women’s participation in the labour force (by Bibek Debroy)

 

Pub Ad/ Economy

TH: The role of labour unions in emerging sectors

IE: Row over Nagaland DGP: How are state police chiefs appointed

 

Physics/Chemistry

Th: The third source of natural quasicrystals preserves their reputation for violent origins (already covered in brief in today’s CA)

 

State PSC:

Tamil Nadu PSC: Tamil Nadu’s heightened border challenge

 

Read the Daily CA in PDF Format here:

 


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