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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 8th December 2021
Published on Dec. 8, 2021, 2:08 p.m.

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics 

Part of: Prelims and GS-II - International relations

Context USA recently formally announced a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in response to China’s human rights record, especially the ongoing Uighur abuse

  • The diplomatic boycott would mean the USA will not send “any diplomatic or official representation,” while still allowing American athletes to compete.

About winter Olympic 

  • The Winter Olympic Games is a major international multi-sport event held once every four years for sports practised on snow and ice. 
  • The first Winter Olympic Games was held in 1924 in Chamonix, France. 
  • The IOC is the governing body and the Olympic Charter defines its structure and authority.

About Uighurs

  • Uighurs, are a minority Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia.
  • The Uyghurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.
  • China rejects the idea of them being an indigenous group
  • Since 2016, it is estimated that over a million Uyghurs have been detained in Xinjiang re-education camps

Freedom to Conduct Business

Part of: Prelims and GS-II - Rights

Context The Supreme Court has held that a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) ban on exporting PPE kits during the second wave of the pandemic was a legitimate aim, which was of sufficient importance to override the Constitutional right of freedom to conduct business.

Background

  • The RBI had elaborated on the state of the pandemic in the country and the necessity of ensuring adequate stock of PPE products.

Do you know?

  • The right to freedom to trade and business is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

PANEX-21

Part of: Prelims and GS-II -International Relations 

Context A Curtain Raiser Event for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief exercise, PANEX-21, for the member nations of BIMSTEC countries, was held in New Delhi recently. 

Key takeaways 

  • The exercise is planned to be conducted from 20-22 December 2021 at Pune. 
  • It will witness participation from subject matter experts and delegates from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) 

  • It is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying in the areas of the Bay of Bengal.
  • This organization came into being in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
  • Member States: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.

Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III - Sci and tech

Context NASA has launched its new Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD), its first-ever laser communications system. 

Key takeaways 

  • The LCRD will help the agency test optical communication in space.
  • Currently, most NASA spacecraft use radio frequency communications to send data.
  • Optical communications will help increase the bandwidth 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems.

The working

  • LCRD has two optical terminals – one to receive data from a user spacecraft, and the other to transmit data to ground stations.
  • The modems will translate the digital data into laser signals.
  • This will then be transmitted via encoded beams of light. 
  • These capabilities make LCRD NASA’s first two-way, end-to-end optical relay, the agency said in a release.

Do you know? 

Laser VS radio

  • Laser communications and radio waves use different wavelengths of light.
  • Laser uses infrared light and has a shorter wavelength than radio waves. This will help the transmission of more data in a short time. 

Konyak tribe

Part of: Prelims and GS-I -Society and GS-III - Internal security 

Context As covered earlier, several civilians were killed by the security forces in an “ambush” in Nagaland’s Mon district. The civilians belonged to the Konyak tribe.

About Konyak tribe

  • The Konyaks are one of the major ethnic groups of Nagaland.
  • Reside mostly in the Mon district also known as ‘The Land of The Anghs’. 
  • Also found in some districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Myanmar 
  • The Anghs/Wangs are their traditional chiefs 
  • Facial tattoos were earned for taking an enemy’s head.
  • Known to be one of the fiercest warrior tribes in Nagaland,
  • They are also adept in making ‘janglaü’ (machetes) and wooden sculptures.

Place in news: Raigad fort

Part of: Prelims 

Context Recently, the Indian President visited the Raigad fort and paid tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

About Raigad fort

  • It is a hill fort situated in the Raigad district of Maharashtra.
  • The fort was known to early Europeans as the ‘Gibraltar of the East’.
  • The fort, which was earlier called Rairi, was the seat of the Maratha clan Shirke in the 12th century. 
  • The fort changed hands a number of times from the dynasty of Bahaminis to the Nizam Shahis and then the Adil shahis.
  • In 1656 Chhatrapati Shivaji captured it from the Mores of Javli who were under the suzerainty of the Adilshahi Sultanate. 
  • The fort also overlooks an artificial lake known as the ‘Ganga Sagar Lake’. 

About Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

  • He was the founder of the Maratha empire, a warrior king of Maharashtra.
  • He was born in the Shivneri Fort in Maharashtra on 19 February 1630 to mother Jijabai and father Shahaji bhosale.
  • He was widely known for his guerrilla warfare tactics.
  • He was accommodative of all religions. 
  • His only aim was to overthrow Mughal rule and establish the Maratha empire.

(News from PIB)


Launch of a Pan-India Capacity Building Programme ‘She is a Changemaker’ for Women in Politics

Part of: Prelims 

By: National Commission for Women (NCW)

Objective: To improve leadership skills of grassroot women political leaders – undertake capacity building of women political leaders and improve their decision making and communication skills including, oration, writing, etc.

For: Women representatives at all levels, gram panchayats to parliament members and political workers including office bearers of National/State political parties

News Source: PIB


Successful Flight Test of Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-II: Government schemes and policies

In News: Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile was successfully flight tested by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha. 

  • The launch was conducted from a vertical launcher against an electronic target at a very low altitude.
  • Launch of the system was conducted to validate integrated operation of all weapon system components including the vertical launcher unit with controller, canisterised flight vehicle, weapon control system etc. required for future launches of the missile from Indian Naval Ships.
  • Significance: This has paved the way for integration of weapon system onboard Indian Naval Ships.

News Source: PIB


India and ADB signs multiple loans

Part of: Prelims

The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Loan 1: Signed a $125 million loan to improve access to safe and affordable drinking water supply and citywide inclusive sanitation services in Dehradun and Nainital cities in the state of Uttarakhand.

  • Computerized maintenance and management systems will be introduced to advance the system operation and asset management while ensuring users’ satisfaction
  • Many innovative solutions like soak pit reuse and utilization for groundwater recharging, bus mobile toilets with gender-sensitive and inclusive design features, rainwater harvesting, and compact design and pre-fabricated sewerage treatment facilities will enhance climate resilience of the project.

Loan 2: Signed a $150 million loan to provide access to inclusive, resilient, and sustainable housing for the urban poor in the state of Tamil Nadu.

  • Rapid urbanization and growth in Tamil Nadu has created a housing shortfall particularly for low-income households
  • The project will provide access to affordable housing infrastructure and services to vulnerable and disadvantaged households and catalyze private sector investment in affordable housing
  • Through the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board, the project will construct housing units in nine different locations and relocate about 6,000 households vulnerable to natural hazards to safer locations. 
  • It will also help Tamil Nadu’s Directorate of Town and Country Planning develop regional plans to map the state’s economic and infrastructure development including affordable housing, environmental protection, disaster risk management, and gender.

News Source: PIB & PIB


Production Linked Incentive Scheme for manufacturing of Advance Chemistry Cell

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-II: Government schemes and policies

In News: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of Department of Heavy Industry for implementation of the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme ‘National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage’.

Key takeaways 

  • Aim: To achieve a manufacturing capacity of 50 GigaWatt Hour of ACC and five Giga Watt Hour of Niche ACC with an outlay of 18,100 crore.
  • ACCs are the new generation of advanced storage technologies that can store electric energy either as electrochemical or as chemical energy and convert it back to electric energy as and when required. 
  • It will also give a big push to electric mobility, benefiting three-wheelers, four-wheelers and heavy vehicles.
  • India is currently importing Battery Storage Equipment 
  • The scheme will be helpful in making the country self-reliant (Atmanirbhar).

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. 

India-Russia military alliance

Context: India-Russia relations have withstood the test of time and the ever-shifting nature of national interests. Relations between the two countries have deepened with time irrespective of the challenges of realpolitik. 

  • This exceptional resilience is built on the firm foundation of strategic national interest and the synergy of geopolitics. 
  • In the post-Cold War era, India has emerged as an economic powerhouse and a key stakeholder in today’s global debate be it climate change, international trade, or the menace of terrorism.
  • Russia with its global status and presence presents a win-win situation for deeper cooperation. This relation between both countries has evolved with time, deepening the integration and widening the breadth of the relation. 

Recent Meeting of India-Russia

  • At the 20th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military & Military Technical Cooperation held recently, the two sides concluded four agreements, contracts and a protocol. 
  • While three documents were signed by the officials of the two sides, the protocol was signed by the two Defence Ministers. 
  • This includes an agreement for manufacture of over 6 lakh AK-203 assault rifles through Joint venture in Amethi, UP, India and the renewal of the agreement on military cooperation till 2031.

What is the status of the defence trade between the two countries?

  • India’s heavy Military dependence: Some of the largest deliveries by Russia to India since 2000, include supply and licensed production of T-90S tanks, aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, Krivak class stealth frigates, licence production of Su-30MKI fighter aircraft, Smerch multiple rocket launchers and Mi-17V-5 helicopters among others.
  • Moving beyond buyer-seller relations: Russia continues to be among India’s biggest defence suppliers and the two sides are now looking to move from licence manufacture to joint research and co-development of defence equipment. 
  • Big ticket military deals: Russia has started deliveries of the S-400 Triumf long-range air defence systems to India. The first division will be delivered by the end of 2021. 
    • With the $5.43 billion S-400 as well as other big ticket deals, the defence trade between India and Russia since 2018 has crossed $15 billion. Russia’s sales with India is about 25% of the total arms exports.
  • Indigenisation plans in future deals: 21 Mig-29s and 12 Su-30MKI fighters, Igla-S short-range air defence systems and the long-delayed deal for manufacture of 200 K-226T utility helicopters in India are some of deals in negotiations where issues surrounding the indigenisation plan are yet to be resolved.

What are the other avenues of cooperation other than defence sales?

  • Logistics Exchange Agreement: On a broader military cooperation, a bilateral logistics support agreement, Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS), as well as a Navy to Navy cooperation MoU are at advanced stages of conclusion. 
  • Access to Arctic: The RELOS gives India access to Russian facilities in the Arctic region which is seeing increased global activity as new shipping routes open up and in the backdrop, India’s own investments in the Russian Far East.
  • Expanding Bilateral Military Exercises: The two sides are now looking at expanding format of bilateral exercises to make them more complex, more sophisticated for exchange of experiences with regard to real time combat situations, instant exercises, the impact of cyber & drone technology on modern warfare.
  • In addition, the two countries are also looking at ideas for expanding India-Russia cooperation in Central Asia and possibility of supplementing bilateral exercises with trilateral and multilateral ones.

What is the future trajectory of the defence cooperation?

  • Setting joint venture to speed up services: Timely supply of spares and support to the large inventory of Russian hardware in service with Indian military has been a major issue from India. To address this, Russia has made legislative changes allowing its companies to set up joint ventures in India to address it following an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed in 2019. This is in the process of being implemented. 
  • Competition forcing timely deliveries: With increased competition from the U.S., France, Israel and others who have bagged major deals in recent years, Russia is also focusing on timely deliveries and lifetime support.
  • Co-production to realign with Atmanirbhar Bharat: In line with India’s quest for self sufficiency, the partnership is reorienting presently to joint research and development, co-development and joint production of advanced defence technology and systems.
    • Today Russia & India are conducting joint research work on more than 100 promising topics, laying the huge groundwork for the development of high-tech industry in both countries in the future.
  • Coproduction for Export: In line with above objectives, the two countries have been discussing how they can cooperate in using India as a production base for exporting to third countries Russian-origin equipment and services. 

Way Forward for Indo-Russian ties

  • Explore Trilateral Framework: India and Russia need to work together in a trilateral manner or using other flexible frameworks, particularly in Southeast Asia and Central Asia. Their growing collaboration can be a force of stability and will bring more diversity to the region while strengthening multilateralism.
  • Leverage Public Diplomacy: Second, the two countries also need to look at peoples’ power — youth exchanges as well as deeper links in various fields including sport, culture, spiritual and religious studies. 
  • Tap into Cultural Congruence: Finally, Buddhism can be an area where both countries can expand their interaction, where peace and sustainability can act as a balm in this turbulent world. 

Connecting the dots:


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Kasturirangan Committee in Western Ghats

In News: On December 4, Karnataka Chief Minister informed the Centre that the state is opposed to the Kasturirangan Committee report on Western Ghats.

  • He said that declaring Western Ghats as ecologically sensitive zone would adversely affect the livelihood of people in the region. 
  • However, the experts called the state’s opposition disastrous for the ecologically fragile Western Ghats.

What are the recommendations of the Kasturirangan committee report?

  • The Kasturirangan committee report proposes 37 per cent of the total area of Western Ghats, which is roughly 60,000 square kilometres, to be declared as eco-sensitive area (ESA). 
  • Out of this, 20,668 sq km of the area falls in Karnataka covering 1,576 villages. T
  • The report recommended a blanket ban on mining, quarrying, setting up of red category industries and thermal power projects. 
  • It also stated that the impact of infrastructural projects on the forest and wildlife should be studied before permission is given for these activities.
  • It also stated that the UNESCO Heritage tag is an opportunity to build global and domestic recognition of the enormous natural wealth that exists in the Western Ghats. 
    • The 39 sites are located across the Western Ghats and distributed across the states (Kerala 19), Karnataka (10), Tamil Nadu (6) and Maharashtra (4). 
    • The boundary of the sites, are in most cases, boundaries of the legally demarcated national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves and forest divisions and therefore, already accorded with high level of protection. 
    • The Eco-Sensitive Area mapping and demarcation done by the committee also indicates that all sites are within this area. 
  • The state governments should view this development and build a plan to protect, conserve and value the resources and opportunities of the region. 
  • The state of Karnataka has the highest percentage of the ESA- 46.50 per cent.

Why have the successive governments in Karnataka rejected the report?

  • The state government believes that implementation of the report will halt the developmental activities in the region. 
  • The government has stated that Karnataka has the distinction of being one of the states with extensive forest cover and the government has taken care to protect the biodiversity of Western Ghats.
The Kasturirangan report has been prepared based on the satellite images, but the ground reality is different. People of the region have adopted agriculture and horticultural activities in an eco-friendly manner. 
  • Priority has been accorded for environment protection under the Forest Protection Act. In this background bringing one more law that would affect the livelihood of the local people is not appropriate.
  • The union government since 2014 has issued several draft notifications to the Karnataka government to finalise the eco-sensitive areas in the Western Ghats but the government has been firm in rejecting the implementation of the report.

What impact will the non-implementation of the report have on the Western Ghats?

  • Considering the changes in climate (evident from recurring floods, droughts, landslides, increasing temperature, etc), which would affect the livelihood of all people (irrespective of poor or rich) and hurt the nation’s economy, it is prudent to conserve the fragile ecosystems.
  • Experts suggests the government to accept and implement the report.
  • World are in the throes of extreme climate events, which are impacting nature and people. Yet, the government continues to object valued suggestions of acclaimed researchers. 
  • If the government truly cares for the welfare of 22 crore people who are sustained by the Western Ghats, it would accept at least 85 per cent of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan Committee. Else, it would be the reason for the sufferings of the people.

What is the present status of the deemed forest land in Karnataka?

  • While there is a growing concern over the forest encroachments in Karnataka, the state government has planned to further shrink the deemed forest area from 3,30,186.938 hectares to 2 lakh hectares. 
  • In the order dated December 12, 1996 of the Supreme Court of India in Writ Petition in Godavarman Thirumulpad Vs Union of India & others, the term forest as per dictionary meaning and the forests recorded in government records were to be included in the broad definition of ‘forests’ along with notified forests for consideration of any diversion proposal under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. 
  • The state expert committee in 1997 had identified 10 lakh hectares of deemed forest area which over the years were shrunk by the successive governments.

Connecting the dots:


(Sansad TV: Perspective)


Dec 7- Multidimensional Poverty - https://youtu.be/-Q68t5aGoG0  

TOPIC:

  • GS-II – Poverty and related issues
  • GS-3: Indian Economy

Multidimensional Poverty

Context: The Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015 established the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). SDG 1 in its entirety

(“End poverty in all its forms everywhere”) is multidimensional in nature and definition. While target 1.1 seeks to eradicate extreme poverty –measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day (subsequently increased to $1.90/day), target 1.2 aims at reducing multidimensional poverty, as defined by national definitions, by half.

In News: NITI Aayog has recently released the state-wise National Multidimensional Poverty Index or MPI in line with the global index released by the United Nations each year.

According to Global MPI 2021, India’s rank is 66 out of 109 countries. 

The Global MPI 

  • The Global MPI is part of the government’s decision to monitor the performance of the country on 29 select global indices.
  • It is an international measure of multidimensional poverty covering 107 developing countries. 
  • It was first developed in 2010 by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative and United Nations Development Programme.
  • It is released at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development of the United Nations in July, every year.
  • The dimensions of poverty range from deprivations of health facilities, education and living standards.
  • It is computed by scoring each surveyed household on 10 parameters based on -nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing and household assets.

National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)

A national Multidimensional Poverty Index for India will 

  • Facilitate formulation of sectoral policies and targeted interventions which contribute towards ensuring that “no one is left behind”. 
  • This baseline National MPI Report and Dashboard is a landmark first step in bringing multidimensional poverty as a tool to the policy table at the national and subnational levels in India. 
  • Enable estimation of poverty not only at the level of the States but also for all the 700 plus districts (600 plus in 2015-16, 700 plus in 2019-20) across twelve indicators, capture simultaneous deprivations and indicator-wise contribution to poverty
  • It is expected that the report will play an instrumental role in sensitizing government, researchers, civil society, citizens, and other stakeholders on the need for and importance of MPI as a powerful policy instrument. 
  • At the higher levels, MPI could be used as an input to the design of development policies schemes, budget allocations, and target setting. 
  • At the lower levels, for instance, of that of district, MPI could decide priority of execution and delivery. With every revision of MPI based on new survey data, actions could be redesigned to shift focus to those who need it the most. 

NITI Aayog will play a key role in charting this path and supporting the stakeholders in their actions, through the following approaches.

  • The National MPI Project is the first attempt in years to define poverty measures and is aimed at deconstructing the Global MPI and creating a globally aligned and yet customised India MPI. 
  • The MPI is based on three dimensions -- health, education, and standard of living -- with each having a weighting of one-third in the index. 
  • The household micro data collected at the unit-level for the NFHS serves as the basis of the computation of National MPI. This unit level micro data collected in 2015-16 has been used in the current MPI report to derive an idea of baseline multidimensional poverty i.e. where the country was with respect to MPI before full-scale roll out of the above mentioned schemes. 
  • The MPI identifies 25.01 per cent of the population as multidimensionally poor. 
  • The progress of the country with respect to this baseline will be measured using the NFHS-5 data collected in 2019-20.

MPI Coordination Committee (MPICC): The inter-ministerial coordination committee constituted under NITI Aayog included Ministries and departments pertaining to areas such as health, education, nutrition, rural development, drinking water, sanitation, electricity, and urban development, among others. It also included experts from Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation and the publishing agencies – OPHI and UNDP.

Engagement with States: Building consensus on MPI at the subnational level State and Union Governments are pivotal stakeholders which make up the institutional bulwark of the country. 

  • With 36 States and Union Territories and over 700 districts –subnational entities represent the myriad socio-political, geographical and economic diversity in the country. 
  • For a public policy tool such as the national MPI to fully realise its potential, utilisation of its results and findings by State and UT governments is crucial. 
  • Simultaneously, the success of identification and implementation of reform areas and actions to improve the lives of households and individuals, would significantly be influenced by the level of adoption at the level of States. 
  • Therefore, building consensus on the need to create a national MPI and the model thereof, developing capacities, understanding and appetite for this novel policy tool, with our primary stakeholders, ie., the State governments and policy makers and implementers at the sub-national level, was felt to be imperative at the stage of MPI project design.

The Calculation: The MPI uses the globally accepted methodology developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The dimensions of the index have proven to help identify and achieve targeted policy interventions. The index is calculated by first setting the deprivation cut-offs for each indicator, i.e., the level of achievement considered normatively sufficient for an individual to be considered not deprived in an indicator. For example, the individual has completed at least six years of schooling. Such a cut off would be applied to determine whether the individual is deprived in each indicator. Weights are added to each indicator and a composite metric is then used to calculate the index.

Some results

  • Bihar has the highest proportion of people, at 51.91 per cent of the state’s population, who are multidimensionally poor, followed by Jharkhand at 42.16 per cent and Uttar Pradesh at 37.79 per cent.
  • Bihar also has the highest number of malnourished people followed by Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. 
  • Kerala, Goa, and Sikkim have the lowest percentage of population being multidimensionally poor at 0.71 per cent, 3.76 per cent and 3.82 per cent, respectively.
  • Among the Union Territories (UTs), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (27.36 per cent), Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh (12.58), Daman & Diu (6.82 per cent) and Chandigarh (5.97 per cent), have emerged as the poorest UTs in India.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. The poverty ratio in India is still high means that growth by itself will not be adequate to reduce poverty. Critically analyse.
  2. How does poverty stifle human development? Can poverty alleviation measures address the problem of stifled human development? Critically examine.   

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1 The Konyaks are one of the major ethnic groups of which of the following states of India? 

  1. Chhattisgarh 
  2. Assam 
  3. Odisha 
  4. Nagaland 

Q.2 Which of the following is not a member country of BIMSTEC? 

  1. South Africa 
  2. Bangladesh
  3. Bhutan
  4. India

Q.3 Which of the following fort was known to early Europeans as the ‘Gibraltar of the East’? 

  1. Raigad fort
  2. Amber fort
  3. Jaisalmer fort
  4. Red fort 

ANSWERS FOR 8th Dec 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 A
3 A

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