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[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 28 August 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 2:

  1. India-Greece Bilateral Relationship
  2. Lead poisoning in India

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Rethink the dynamics of India’s fiscal federalism

 

Content for Mains Enrichment

  1. Solution to minimize heatwaves in Urban India

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Seethakali folk art (Kerala)
  2. Right To Repair
  3. Project ‘AMBER’
  4. Somatic genetic variants
  5. “State of India’s Birds, 2023″ report

 

Mapping

  1. China-Bhutan Boundary Dispute

 


 

India-Greece Bilateral Relationship

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: International Relations

 

Source: TOI

 Context: During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Greece, the two nations elevated their bilateral relationship to a “strategic partnership,” focusing on enhancing political, defence, and security cooperation.

  

What is a Strategic Partnership? 

A strategic partnership is a long-term interaction between two countries based on political, economic, social and historical factors. E.g., India has strategic partnerships with the United States, Russia, China, Japan, UK, France and others

  

Key points of the visit:

  • This visit marked the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 40 years.
  • Greece conferred the Grand Cross of the Order of Honour (Greece’s 2nd highest civilian honour) on Modi, making him the first foreign head of government to receive this honour.
  • The two countries also aimed to double bilateral trade by 2030
  • Early finalization of the Mobility and Migration Partnership Agreement (MMPA)to facilitate skilled migration between the two countries.
  • They reaffirmed their commitment to a free and rules-based Indo-Pacific region and the Mediterranean Sea, advocating for international peace, stability, and security.

 

Various aspects of India-Greece Relations: 

AspectIndia-Greece Relations
Ancient Interactions·        Interaction initiated by Alexander’s campaign in the 4th century BCE

·        Diplomatic, trade, and cultural relations mentioned in Ashoka’s edicts

·        The indo-Greek period was marked by cultural exchange under Greek rulers Demetrius I and Menander I

Political Relations·        Diplomatic relations established in 1950

·        Diplomatic ties, high-level visits, and cooperation between leaders

·        Support for India’s inclusion in NSG and other groups

Commercial Relations·        Trade at 1.32 billion euros

·        Main exports: cotton, scrap, marble, etc.

·        Indian participation in Thessaloniki International Fair

·        India-Greece Framework Agreement on International Solar Alliance

Defence Bilateral cooperation, MoU on defence, joint exercises
Geostrategic Significance·        Greece’s potential as India’s gateway to Europe

·        India’s ties with Greece unsettle Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan

·        Countermeasure against China’s influence in the Mediterranean region

Geopolitical Significance·        Support from Greece on issues like Kashmir and terrorism

·        Shared approach on initiatives like UN reforms and the Cyprus issue

·        Greece’s NATO membership and Armenia’s alliance with Russia

Conclusion:

Enhancing India-Greece relations is crucial for India to become a pivotal player in the evolving global order, uniting key seas and continents. Strengthening economic ties can establish new financial networks across Eurasia. Advancing military cooperation through comprehensive agreements will enable joint exercises, technology sharing, and intelligence collaboration.

 

 Insta Links:

 Indo-Greeks

Lead poisoning in India

GS2/GS3 Paper 

 Syllabus: Social Issues/ Science and Technology

 

Source: IE

Context: Lead poisoning poses a hidden threat in India, with over half of children having blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) (WHO safe level), according to studies.

What is lead?

Lead is a heavy metal element that is toxic to humans and can cause serious health problems when ingested or inhaled, especially in high amounts. Major sources of lead exposure include lead-based paints, lead batteries, contaminated soil and water, and occupational exposure in industries such as mining, smelting, and battery recycling.

 

What is Lead poisoning?

It is a condition that occurs when a person’s body accumulates high levels of lead, a toxic metal. It can lead to various health issues, especially in children, including learning disabilities, neurological problems, stunted growth, and organ damage.

 

Concerns of Lead Poisoning in India:

High Exposure in ChildrenA 2021 study found that about 20 crore children in India have blood lead levels exceeding the safe limit set by WHO.
Severe Health ImpactLead poisoning can lead to learning disabilities, neurological impairments, stunted growth, and organ damage. Children are especially vulnerable.
Economic and Social ImpactThe effects of lead poisoning account for a significant learning gap between rich and poor countries. Affected children might achieve less in education and work, impacting the nation’s productivity.
Impacted regionsBihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh account for 40% of the population with high blood lead levels.

 

 

Factors contributing to lead poisoning:

  • Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries.
  • Increase in vehicle ownership, combined with the lack of vehicle battery recycling regulation and infrastructure.
  • Workers in dangerous and often illegal recycling operations break open battery cases, and spill acid and lead dust into the soil.

 

Government steps to control lead poisoning:

  • National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis, Endemic Skeletal Fluorosis and Arsenicosis: Launched in 2010 to prevent lead poisoning.
  • Import Ban on Non-Compliant Lead Acid Batteries: In 2013, the Ministry of Environment and Forests banned non-compliant lead acid battery imports.
  • National Health Mission (NHM): Provides healthcare services, including lead poisoning screening and treatment.
  • Lead Battery Waste Management Rules, 2016: Regulates lead-acid battery disposal and promotes safe recycling.
  • National Programme for the Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE): Offers healthcare to the elderly, who are vulnerable to lead poisoning.
  • Center for Advanced Research on Environmental Health (CAREH): Conducts research on environmental health, including lead poisoning.

 

 

Global efforts to address lead poisoning have taken various approaches:

  • S. Gasoline Initiative: The U.S. successfully reduced blood lead concentrations by more than 90% from 1976 to 1995 by eliminating lead from gasoline.
  • Paint and Water-Pipe Regulations: Many countries have implemented stringent standards to ensure paints and water pipes are lead-free, minimizing potential sources of lead exposure.
  • Bangladesh’s Turmeric Solution: In Bangladesh, lead contamination through turmeric adulteration was tackled by enforcing strict regulations and raising consumer awareness between 2017 and 2021, resulting in a decrease of lead-tainted turmeric from 47% in 2019 to 0% in 2021

 

Way forward for India to control lead poisoning:

ApproachDescription
Clear LegislationA strong legislative framework is needed to establish health and safety standards for lead-containing products.
Enforce StandardsStrict enforcement of regulations on lead-free paints and water pipes.
Monitoring SystemEstablish blood lead level testing, including in household surveys to identify affected populations.
Identify Contaminated SitesNationwide efforts to locate lead-contaminated areas, with priority on clean-ups near schools and residential zones.
Promote Sustainable PracticesImplement waste management and e-waste recycling programs to reduce lead contamination.
Inter-departmental CoordinationEnhance collaboration between government agencies, NGOs, and international partners for cohesive action.
Public AwarenessRaise awareness among parents, workers, schools, and healthcare professionals about lead’s dangers.

 

Insta Facts:

  • Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time.
  • Lead in bone is released into the blood during pregnancyand becomes a source of exposure to the developing foetus.
  • WHO has identified lead as 1 of 10 chemicals of major public health concern.
  • WHO has joined with the United Nations Environment Programme to form the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint.

 

Insta Links:

Lead poisoning

/ 28 Aug 2023, Today's Article

Rethink the dynamics of India’s fiscal federalism

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Government Budgeting

 

Source: TH

 Context: The evolving dynamics of India’s fiscal federalism require reconsideration due to various factors, such as the shift to a market-based economy, changes in the fiscal landscape, and amendments to the Constitution.

 

What is the meaning of India’s fiscal federalism?

India’s fiscal federalism refers to the division of financial powers and responsibilities between the central government and state governments within the framework of a federal system. It involves how revenue is generated, shared, and utilized to fund public services and governance across different levels of government in the country.

 

Issues with the India’s fiscal federalism:

  • Replacement of Planning Commission with NITI Aayog.
  • Authority of GST Council under Goods and Services Act.
  • Impact of widespread cess and surcharges on divisible pool size.
  • Neglect of integrating the third tier of governance.
  • Lack of consistent financial reporting across all government tiers.
  • No comprehensive review of off-budget borrowing practices.
  • States are subject to restraint through Article 293(3)under the oversight of the Union and the FRBM Act, but the Union frequently evades such checks.
  • The substantial use of the National Small Saving Fund (NSSF)for financing central PSUs through loans is not included in the Union’s fiscal deficits.

 

Issues of Fiscal Federalism w.r.t GST:

Details
1. Financial Autonomy of StatesGST has made the country’s indirect tax regime more unitary, reducing states’ financial autonomy.
2. GST CompensationStates were promised compensation if revenue growth fell below 14%, but the Centre missed payments, causing friction.
3. GST CouncilThe central government’s vote counts for one-third, giving it considerable influence; A Recent Supreme Court ruling grants states flexibility in decision-making.
4. Revenue ShortfallStates face a significant GST revenue gap, causing financial challenges and impacting fiscal federalism.

 

Why is there a need for re-evaluating Article 246 and the Seventh Schedule?

  • Changing Political Landscape: India’s shift from a single-party to a multi-party system has led to new dynamics in governance.
  • Altered Dynamics: Changes in politics, society, technology, demographics, and development approaches have significantly transformed the landscape.
  • Additional Burden: Central legislations like MGNREGA, RTE Act, and NFS Act have placed extra responsibilities on states.
  • Constitution-Making Gap: The original constitution-making process didn’t adequately address the division of responsibilities and taxation authority.
  • Borrowed Framework: The constitution borrowed heavily from the Government of India Act 1935, lacking the subsidiarity principle.
  • Missed Opportunity: The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments provided a chance for reconsideration, but no substantial steps were taken.
  • Complexity Introduced: Introduction of Schedule XI and Schedule XII complicated matters without clear operational significance.
  • Need for Specificity: These schedules need to be broken down into specific activities and sub-activities, similar to Kerala’s approach, for practical relevance.

 

What should be done:

  • Equity in Intergovernmental Transfers: India’s transfer system should prioritize equity. The 16th Finance Commission should focus on equity in tax devolution.
  • Revisiting Article 246 and Seventh Schedule
  • Subsidiarity Principle for Division of Functions: The introduction of a new local list detailing the responsibilities of local governments is necessary.
  • Empowering the Third Tier: Recognizing local governments’ role, the upcoming Union Finance Commission should address this.
  • Reviewing Off-Budget Borrowing: Off-budget borrowing practices by both the Union and States need review. Transparency is crucial, and all income and expenditure transactions should be accounted for within the budget.

  

Insta Links:

 The poor state of India’s fiscal federalism

  

Prelims Links:

Which one of the following is not a feature of Indian federalism? (2017)

(a) There is an independent judiciary in India.

(b) Powers have been clearly divided between the Centre and the States.

(c) The federating units have been given unequal representation in the Rajya Sabha.

(d) It is the result of an agreement among the federating units.

 

Ans: (d)

Solution to minimize heatwaves in Urban India

Content for Mains Enrichment

 

Source: DTE

The study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) explores the impact of different urban forms on heat resilience.

 

Key findings and recommendations include:

  • Morphology Influence: Areas with open highrise, open midrise, and compact midrise urban morphologies show lower land surface temperatures (LST), indicating better heat resilience.
    • Low-rise areas with sparse vegetation tend to have higher LST.
  • Blue/Green Infrastructure: Greenery, like trees, shrubs, and grass, enhances microclimates. Effective vegetation cover (EVC) reduces LST; trees with thick foliage are more effective.
  • Floor Space Index (FSI): Higher FSI correlates with lower LST. Increased FSI results in decreased temperatures.
  • Street Orientation: North-south-oriented streets have higher LST due to sun exposure, offering guidelines for urban planning.
  • Cooling Solutions: Different urban forms can have distinct zoning regulations for heat resilience, such as shaded walkways, cool roofs, and high EVC.
  • Adapting Urban Plans: Cities should amend building by-laws and master plans based on factors influencing heat gain.
  • Impact on Energy Consumption: A 1°C temperature decrease can lead to a 2% reduction in the city’s power consumption.

  

Usage: The solutions can be used in governance/Disaster Management Questions.

Seethakali folk art (Kerala)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: The Perinad Seethakali Sangham, a group of artists from diverse backgrounds, revived the fading Seethakali folk art form in 2017.

 

Key Features of Seethakali:

Key Features
Seethakali is a traditional folk-dance drama from Desinganad, Kerala, primarily during the Onam festivities.
ArtistsPresented by Dalit artists from the Veda and Pulaya communities
StorySeethakali portrays the journey from “vanayatra” (exile to the forest) to “andardhanam” (descend into the earth) of Sita, featuring a blend of songs, storytelling, and fast movements.
Blend of ElementsCombines songs, storytelling, and energetic movements
InstrumentsGanjira, manikatta, chiratta, and kaimani instruments
NarrativeStory conveyed through folk-style songs influenced by Vallappaattu Kuthirappaattu, and Rakshasappattu
Oral TraditionThe tradition of passing down songs orally led to a hiatus
Character EnsembleIncludes key characters like Sita, Ram, Lakshman, Ravan, Hanuman

Right To Repair

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Apple’s surprising reversal on the “right to repair” movement holds immense significance, considering it was previously among the tech giants opposing the concept.

Apple now supports legislation granting consumers and third-party firms the right to fix damaged electronic products. This shift aligns with a broader trend of tech companies adapting to consumer demands for greater control over their devices.

 

What is the Right to Repair?

The Right to Repair refers to government legislation that is intended to allow consumers the ability to repair and modify their own consumer electronic devices, where otherwise the manufacturer of such devices requires the consumer to use only their offered services.

 

The logic behind ‘Right to Repair’?

When customers buy a product, it is inherent that they must own it completely, for which the consumers should be able to repair and modify the product with ease and at a reasonable cost, without being captive to the whims of manufacturers for repairs.

Origin of the Idea: The idea originally originated from the USA where the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act 2012, required the manufacturers to provide the necessary documents and information to allow anyone to repair their vehicles.

Previously, MeitY launched a pilot project on Electronics Repair Services Outsourcing (ERSO) to make India a Global Repair Capital.

Through the ERSO scheme, India hopes to capture 20% of the global repair service market – currently valued at $100 billion – in five years. At present, India’s revenue from repair services is about $350 million.

Project ‘AMBER’

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 Context: The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), in partnership with Generation India Foundation (GIF) and Amazon Web Services India Private Limited (AWS India), is implementing project AMBER to provide cloud skills training to 1,500 learners.

 

About Project Amber: 

PROJECT AMBER (Accelerated Mission for Better Employment and Retention) is a joint initiative of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Generation India Foundation (GIF) under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).

This project is co-funded by MSDE (under the SANKALP programme) and private philanthropy and aims to train 30,000 youth, 50% of whom will be women trainees.

The training will be conducted in post-COVID resilient job roles, over a period of two years. Generation’s holistic 7-step skilling methodology will be utilised to drive higher quality skilling, improved employment, and retention outcomes.

Somatic genetic variants

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: Scientists have known of somatic variants for many years, but recently there has been an explosion in the amount of data.

  • While DNA replication during cell division is generally accurate, errors occur at an estimated rate of 0.64-0.78 mutations per billion base pairs per division.
  • These mutations are more common during development and are referred to as somatic genetic mutations.
  • These errors, often arising from the repeated copying of the genome, increase with age and tissue turnover. Some of these mutations can confer advantages to cells, leading to the development of tumours known as driver mutations.

  

About Somatic Genetic Variants: 

  • Somatic genetic variants, also known as somatic mutations or somatic changes, refer to alterations in the DNA sequence that occur in the cells of an individual’s body after conception.
  • Somatic mutations can occur for various reasons, such as errors during DNA replication, exposure to environmental factors (like radiation or chemicals), or simply as a natural consequence of cellular
  • Somatic mutations can have different effects depending on where they occur in the genome and which genes are affected.
  • Some somatic mutations are harmless and have no discernible impact on the cell or individual. However, others can lead to the development of diseases, including cancer.

“State of India’s Birds, 2023″ report

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE, IE

 Context: The State of India’s Birds, 2023″ report reveals a widespread decline in most bird species across the country, with some currently declining and others projected to decline in the future.

  

Key Findings:

  • Raptors, migratory shorebirds, and ducks have experienced the most significant declines.
  • However, several species like the Indian Peafowl, Rock Pigeon, Asian Koel, and House Crow are thriving and increasing in both abundance and distribution.
  • The assessments, based on data from around 30,000 birdwatchers, indicate that 60% of the 338 species with identifiable long-term trends have declined, while 36 species have increased.
  • Specialist bird species, which inhabit specific habitats like wetlands and rainforests, are facing rapid declines, while generalist species capable of adapting to various habitats are faring better.
  • Long-distance migratory birds, such as those from Eurasia and the Arctic, have suffered significant declines, while resident species remain more stable.
  • Birds with diets focused on vertebrates and carrion have seen notable declines, potentially due to harmful pollutants present in these food resources.
  • The report emphasizes the decline of species endemic to the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspots.

 

The main threats to birdlife in India highlighted in the report include:

  • Climate Change
  • Urbanization
  • Monocultures
  • Energy Infrastructure

Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) Ratified

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 Source: Mongabay

 Context: We already covered the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) yesterday. This is additional information for GBEF.

 

Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) is presented in a tabular format:

AspectDetails
GBFF (1st approved in July this year under the Global Environment Facility (GEF)) aims to support the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework’s goals by 2030. Contributions from countries, non-profits, and the private sector are welcome.
PurposeTo mobilize investment and accelerate conservation efforts for global biodiversity.
LaunchRatified at the Global Environmental Facility’s seventh assembly in Vancouver, Canada by representatives of 185 countries.
GovernanceGBFF Council Representation:

·        16 members from developing countries

·        14 members from developed countries

·        2 members from countries of central and eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union

 

Decision-making: Consensus-based decisions, following the GEF Instrument model.

 

Financial Mobilization Goals·        20% will be allocated to Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs)

o   The allocation for IPLCs will be reviewed for two years and the allocations for SIDS and LDCs will be reviewed for three years.

·        25% to GEF agencies

·        36% to SIDS (Small Island Developing States)

·        3% to LDCs (Least Developed Countries)

TargetsRaise international financial flows to developing countries (at least $20B by 2025, $30B by 2030)
Priority Support:Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) will receive over a third of the fund’s resources, prioritizing their biodiversity conservation efforts.
Financial Management:·        Trustee: The World Bank will serve as the Trustee of the GBFF.

·        Establishment: Modeled after funds like Capacity-Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) Trust Fund, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Fund, Special Climate Change Fund, and Nagoya Protocol Implementation Fund (NPIF)

Funding SourcesGovernments, philanthropy, the private sector, international financial institutions.
GoalsHalt and reverse biodiversity loss, and promote sustainable species and ecosystem health.
Addressed ThreatsWildfires, flooding, extreme weather, unsustainable activities, urbanization.
ChallengesNeed for more contributions, and firm commitment to allocate funds to Indigenous groups.

China-Bhutan Boundary Dispute

Mapping

 

Source: HT

 China and Bhutan recently held boundary talks to expedite efforts to resolve their disputed border issue.

This development is significant considering India and China’s ongoing military standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and China’s claims on Bhutanese territory, which have implications for India’s north-eastern region.

The China-Bhutan border dispute involves territorial claims and tensions between the two countries over parts of Bhutan’s territory, particularly in areas bordering Tibet. The disputed regions between China and Bhutan include Doklam, Gamochen, Batangla, Sinchela, Sakteng and Amo Chhu. Bhutan and China lack formal diplomatic relations.

/ 28 Aug 2023, Today's Article

 

Read the CA in PDF format here: 

 


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