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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th August 2019
Published on Aug. 10, 2019, 10:49 a.m.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th August 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Bharat Ratna

Part of: GS Prelims 

In News

  • The President of India presented Bharat Ratna Awards to Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously), Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika (posthumously) and Pranab Mukherjee
  • The Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. Bharat Ratna recipients rank seventh in the Indian order of precedence
  • The award was instituted in 1954
  • The first recipients of the Bharat Ratna were C. Rajagopalachari, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and C. V. Raman, who were honoured in 1954.
  • The award is conferred in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in "any field of human endeavour". 
  • The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science, and public services, but this was changed in 2011.
  • Though usually conferred on India-born citizens, the Bharat Ratna has been awarded to one naturalised citizen, Mother Teresa, and to two non-Indians,Pakistan national Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and former South African President Nelson Mandela.
  • There is no formal nomination process. The recommendations for the award can only be made by the Prime Minister to the President.
  • A maximum of three nominees can be awarded per year.
  • Recipients receive a certificate signed by the President and a medal. There is no monetary grant associated with the award.

Dixon Plan of 1950

Part of: Mains GS III- Internal Security

In News

  • Parliament adopted bill to make Jammu and Kashmir into two UT with carving out of Ladakh from the rest of State
  • The idea of dividing J&K into two or more parts traces its origin to the Dixon Plan of 1950
  • Owen Dixon, an Australian Jurist chosen by the United Nations to mediate between India and Pakistan on the J&K issue, in his report of September 1950 suggested a package which did not find acceptance from India
  • The plan had assigned Ladakh to India and norther areas and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to Pakistan, besides splitting Jammu into two.
  • It has proposed a plebiscite in the Kashmir Valley
  • However, B.R.Ambedkar,after quitting as law minster from the Nehru Ministry, had suggested the formation of three zones: the area held by Pakistan, the Valley and Jammu-Ladakh
  • Ambedkar had also favoured a plebiscite only in the valley.

Measles

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS- III- Health.

In News

  • Sri Lanka has become the fourth country in the Asian region –after Bhutan, Maldives and Timor-Leste – to eliminate measles
  • Measles is a highly contagious viral disease
  • It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons
  • Initial symptoms include high fever, running nose and bloodshot eyes. Several days later, a rash develops on the face and upper neck slowly spreading downwards
  • It can cause life threatening complication including encephalitis (an infection that leads to swelling of brain), severe diarrhea, and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent vision loss
  • The disease is preventable though two doses of safe and effective vaccine
  • Measles is considered to be eliminated when a country interrupts transmission of an indigenous virus for three years

Waste Recycling

Part of: Mains GS- III– Environmental Conservation

In News

  • IIT Madras student designs system to recycle Urine, 
  • The project titled Water Chakra won the Indian Innovation Growth Programme 2.0 in July
  • The concentrated urine is stored for three days to allow for the urea to get converted into ammonia
  • By a process of steam distillation, the ammonia is segregated and this commercial grade liquid can be used to make cleaning products such as detergents or in rubber manufacturing
  • Through electrochemical process 90% of the water content is recovered and can be used for gardening purposes and flushing
  • The technology can be used in community toilets to generate funds for its own maintenance 

Drug resistant TB

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS III- Science and Technology

In News

  • The test developed by MedGenome Labs can provide a detailed analysis of every single mutation present in any TB Bacteria causing drug resistance directly from the sputum
  • This Whole-Genome Sequencing- based Test-SPIT SEQ enables doctors to quickly and accurantely prescribe the most effective drug to a TB patient
  • The existing sputum smear microscopy, Cartridge Based Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (CB-NAAT) and culture tests are not only time-consuming but do not provide a detailed analysis of resistance developed by the patient to every single mutation in the bacteria.
  • With India having the largest number of multidrug resistant (MDR-TB) TB cases, SPIT SEQ can help to achieve India’s SDG goal of eliminating TB by 2025.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ENVIRONMENT/CLIMATE CHANGE

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Report by IPCC

Context:

  • A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released Thursday presents the most recent evidence on how the different uses of land — forests, agriculture, urbanisation — are affecting and getting affected by climate change.

What is IPCC?

  • This is an intergovernmental body under the UN.It is a scientific body
  • Formed in 1988 by WMO (World Meteorological Organisation) and UNEP
  • It produces report based on scientific developments across the world.
  • The IPCC does not carry out its own original research, nor does it do the work of monitoring climate or related phenomena itself. The IPCC bases its assessment on the published literature
  • IPCC has so far produced five assessment reports, the latest one was published in2014. It said that India’s high vulnerability and exposure to climate change will slow its economic growth, impact health and development, make poverty reduction more difficult and erode food security
  • It was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2007
  • IPCC functions under UNFCC
  • The aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to :
  • Human-induced climate change,
  • The impacts of human-induced climate change,
  • Options for adaptation and mitigation

What the new IPCC report says on land and climate change

  • This is the first time that the IPCC, whose job it is to assess already-published scientific literature to update our knowledge of climate change science, has focused its attention solely on the land sector.
  • A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released Thursday presents the most recent evidence on how the different uses of land — forests, agriculture, urbanisation — are affecting and getting affected by climate change.
  • The Geneva-based IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was created “to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options”.

The land-climate link

  • Land use, and changes in land use, have always been an integral part of the conversation on climate change. That is because land acts as both the source as well as a sink of carbon.
  • Activities like agriculture and cattle rearing, for example, are a major source of methane and nitrous oxide, both of which are hundreds of times more dangerous than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
  • At the same time, soil, trees, plantations, and forests absorb carbon dioxide for the natural process of photosynthesis, thus reducing the overall carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere.
  • This is the reason why larges cale land use changes, like deforestation or urbanisation, or even a change in cropping pattern, have a direct impact on the overall emissions of greenhouse gases.

The IPCC’s reports

  • This is the first time that the IPCC, whose job it is to assess already-published scientific literature to update our knowledge of climate change science, has focused its attention solely on the land sector. 
  • It is part of a series of special reports that IPCC is doing in the run-up to the sixth edition of its main report, blandly called the Assessment Reports, that is due around 2022.
  • Last year, the IPCC had produced a special report on the feasibility of restricting global rise in temperature to within 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times. These reports were sought by governments to get a clearer picture of specific aspects of climate change.

Previous report

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) approved a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C on October 6, 2018 at Incheon, South Korea.
  • The report focusses on keeping warming to under 1.5°C as compared to pre-industrial times.
  • Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades.
  • So it calls for the world’s leaders to limit future human-caused warming to just 0.5°Celsius from now.
  • This is, notably, well below the earlier globally agreed-upon goal of 1° C from now.
  • The report details how Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems could be made better.
  • It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in the coming December.
  • The governments will review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change in this upcoming conference

What present report says

  • The current report talks about the contribution of land-related activities to global warming — how the different uses of land, like agriculture, industry, forestry, cattle-rearing, and urbanisation, was affecting emissions of greenhouse gases. 
  • An important part of the report talks about the manner in which even existential activities like food production contributes to global warming and is also affected by it.
  • The report says that if pre-production activities like cattle rearing and post-production activities like transport, energy and food processing, is taken into account, then food production could contribute as much as 37 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions every year.
  • It points out that nearly 25 per cent of all food produced is either lost or wasted. And even the decomposition of the waste releases emissions.

Land, oceans, forests

  • Land and ocean together absorb nearly 50 per cent of greenhouse gases emitted every year through natural processes in the carbon cycle. The importance of land, or ocean, as a carbon sink, thus cannot be overstated in the global fight against climate change. That is why afforestation, and reduction in deforestation, are vital approaches in a global strategy to combat climate change.

Conclusion

  • India’s action plan on climate change too, has a very important component on forests. India has promised that it would create an additional carbon sink of about 2.5 billion to 3 billion tonnes by the year 2032 by increasing its forest cover, and planting more trees.

Connecting the dots:

  1. Discuss the factors responsible for long term climate change. What evidences do we have that support current global warming. Explain.
  2. The fight against climate change is more effective at the household level than macro level policy formulations. Do you agree? Substantiate.
  3. Critically evaluate the emerging trends in global climate change negotiations. Is the world heading in the right direction in its fight against climate change? Critically examine.

ECONOMY

TOPIC: General studies 2 & 3

  • Important International institutions, agencies and forums, their structure, mandate.
  • Indian Growth & Economy
  • Economic Developments

Economic milestone and a poignant anniversary

CONTEXT:

  • Bank nationalisation eased rural credit and aided financial inclusion. Any move to reverse it would be self-defeating

Nationalisation of Banks:

  • The nationalisation of banks in 1969 was a watershed moment in the history of Indian banking.
  • From July 19 that year, 14 private banks were nationalised; another six private banks were nationalised in 1980. 
  • It is certain that one cannot locate a similar transformational moment in the banking policy of any country at any point of time in history.

Banking system at the time of independence:

  • India’s rural financial system was marked by the domination of landlords, traders and moneylenders.
  • In 1951, if a rural household had an outstanding debt of Rs. 100, about Rs. 93 came from non-institutional sources. 
  • From the 1950s, there were sporadic efforts to expand the reach of the institutional sector, particularly in the rural areas. 
  • Despite these measures, the predominantly private banking system failed to meet the credit needs of the rural areas.

India’s banking policy after 1969 

  • As a part of a new branch licensing policy, banks were told that for every branch they opened in a metropolitan or port area, four new branches had to be opened in unbanked rural areas. As a result, the number of rural bank branches increased from 1,833 (in 1969) to 35,206 (in 1991)
  • The concept of priority-sector lending was introduced. All banks had to compulsorily set aside 40% of their net bank credit for agriculture, micro and small enterprises, housing, education and “weaker” sections.
  • A differential interest rate scheme was introduced in 1974. Here, loans were provided at a low interest rate to the weakest among the weakest sections of the society.
  • The Lead Bank scheme was introduced in 1969. Each district was assigned to one bank, where they acted as “pace-setters” in providing integrated banking facilities
  • The Regional Rural Banks (RRB) were established in 1975 to enlarge the supply of institutional credit to the rural areas
  • The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was constituted in 1982 to regulate and supervise the functions of cooperative banks and RRBs.
  • The share of institutional sources in the outstanding debt of rural households increased from just 16.9% in 1962 to 64% in 1992.

Growth spurring

  • India’s nationalisation experience is an answer to mainstream economists who argue that administered interest rates cause “financial repression”. 
  • According to this view, if the government administers interest rates, the savings rate would decline, leading to a rationing of investment funds. 
  • On the contrary, India’s nationalisation led to an impressive growth of financial intermediation. 
  • The share of bank deposits to GDP rose from 13% in 1969 to 38% in 1991. 
  • The gross savings rate rose from 12.8% in 1969 to 21.7% in 1990.
  • The share of advances to GDP rose from 10% in 1969 to 25% in 1991.
  • The gross investment rate rose from 13.9% in 1969 to 24.1% in 1990.
  • Nationalisation also demonstrated the utility of monetary policy in furthering redistributionist goals
  • India’s nationalisation shows that monetary policy, banks and interest rates can be effectively used to take banks to rural areas, backward regions and under-served sectors, furthering redistributionist goals in an economy.

Arguments in favour of financial liberalisation

  • The Narasimham Committee of 1991 recommended that monetary policy should be divorced from redistributionist goals.
  • Instead, banks should be free to practise commercial modes of operation, with profitability as the primary goal
  • The Reserve Bank of India allowed banks to open and close branches as they desired. 
  • Priority sector guidelines were diluted; banks were allowed to lend to activities that were remotely connected with agriculture or to big corporates in agri-business, yet classify them as agricultural loans. Interest rate regulations on priority sector advances were removed.

The outcomes:

  • More than 900 rural bank branches closed down across the country.
  • The rate of growth of agricultural credit fell sharply from around 7% per annum in the 1980s to about 2% per annum in the 1990s. 
  • This retreat of public banks wreaked havoc on the rural financial market. 
  • Between 1991 and 2002, the share of institutional sources in the total outstanding debt of rural households fell from 64% to 57.1%.

A to and fro

The government and the RBI probably saw the danger coming in banking policy

Following measures were taken:

  • In 2004, a policy to double the flow of agricultural credit within three years was announced. Only public banks could make this happen. 
  • In 2005, the RBI quietly brought in a new branch authorisation policy. Permission for new branches began to be given only if the RBI was satisfied that the banks concerned had a plan to adequately serve underbanked areas and ensure actual credit flow to agriculture. 
  • In 2011, the RBI further tightened this procedure. It was mandated that at least 25% of new branches were to be compulsorily located in unbanked centres.

Outcome of these initiatives:

  • The number of rural bank branches rose from 30,646 in 2005, to 33,967 in 2011 and 48,536 in 2015. 
  • The annual growth rate of real agricultural credit rose from about 2% in the 1990s to about 18% between 2001 and 2015. 
  • Much of this new provision of agricultural credit did not go to farmers; it largely went to big agri-business firms and corporate houses located in urban and metropolitan centres — but recorded in the bank books as “agricultural credit
  • public banks also played a central role in furthering the financial inclusion agendas of successive governments. 
  • Data show that more than 90% of the new no-frills accounts were opened in public banks

Conclusion:

  • The macroeconomic policy framework of successive governments has hardly been supportive of a banking structure dominated by public banks. 
  • In times of slow growth, the excess liquidity in banks was seen as a substitute for counter-cyclical fiscal policy. 
  • Successive governments, scared of higher fiscal deficits, encouraged public banks to lend more for retail and personal loans, high-risk infrastructural sectors and vehicle loans. 
  • Consequently, banks are in crisis with rising non-performing assets. 
  • The same fear of fiscal deficits is also scaring the government away from recapitalising banks. 
  • The solution put forward is a perverse one: privatisation. The goose that lays golden eggs is being killed.

Connecting the dots:

  1. Indian banks need to resolve their NPA issues at the earliest to boost the economy for further development. What are the measures taken by concerned stakeholders to address the issue?
  2. Discuss the impact of Nationalisation of banks

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note: 

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements

  1. Bharat Ratna awards were instituted in 1954 and the first recipients were Dr B.R.Ambedkar, Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru
  2. Recipients receive a certificate signed by the President, a medal and monetary grant of 25 Lakh rupees.

Which of the statement(s) given above is / are incorrect?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) Dixon Plan of 1950 was associated with which of the following ?

  1. Israel-Palestine conflict
  2. USA’s plan to reconstruct Europe through provision of aid
  3. North Korea and South Korea conflict
  4. Kashmir conflict

Q.3) Which of the following countries have eliminated Measles

  1. Sri Lanka
  2. Bhutan
  3. Nepal
  4. India
  5. Timor-leste

Select the correct answer from the codes given below?

  1. 1,2 and 3 only
  2. 1,2,4 and 5only
  3. 1,2 and 4 only
  4. 1,2 and 5 only

Q.4) Consider the following statements about Tuberculosis (TB)

  1. It is caused by plasmodium parasite
  2. India has the largest number of multidrug resistant TB cases

Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

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