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08 January 2021: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Exam

1) To boost industries in J&K, Centre clears Rs 28,400-cr scheme

GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

CONTEXT:

  1. The Centre has approved a new industrial development scheme with an outlay of Rs 28,400 crore for Jammu and Kashmir that will focus on generating employment, developing skills and attracting new investment, especially in far-flung areas of the Union Territory.

ABOUT:

  1. The scheme will come into force from the date of its notification till 2037, and “give direct and indirect employment to about 4.5 lakh persons”.
  2. It will also provide interest subvention on working capital loans that will indirectly support 35,000 people.
  3. This is the first such scheme by the Centre that aims to take industrial development to the block level in J&K.
  4. The new initiative will nurture existing schemes in the manufacturing and service sectors, and attract “unprecedented investment”.
  5. The scheme will offer incentives on the basis of location: capital incentive at the rate of 30 per cent in Zone-A, which will cover far-flung areas, and 50 per cent in Zone-B on investment made in plant and machinery (manufacturing), or construction of buildings and other durable physical assets (service).
  6. Units with investment up to Rs 50 crore will be eligible for the incentive -- the maximum incentive available in areas under Zone A is Rs 5 crore and under Zone B Rs 7.5 crore.
  7. The scheme provides for 6 per cent interest subvention for a maximum of seven years on loans up to Rs 500 crore for investment in plant and machinery (manufacturing), or ten years for construction in building and all other durable physical assets (service).
  8. Government has provided for a GST-linked approach under which financial incentive will be based on Gross GST to ensure less compliance burden without compromising on transparency.
  9. Existing units can avail working capital interest incentive at the annual rate of 5 per cent for a maximum of five years, with a cap of Rs 1 crore.
  10. Even smaller units with an investment upto Rs 50 crore in plant and machinery will get capital incentive upto Rs 7.5 crore and capital interest subvention at the rate of 6 per cent per annum for a maximum of seven years.

 

Source: Indian Express

 

2) Centre merges J&K cadre officers with AGMUT

GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

CONTEXT:

  1. The Centre merged Jammu and Kashmir cadre IAS, IPS and IFS officers with that of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT), also called the Union Territory cadre, through an ordinance.

ABOUT:

  1. The move will allow officers posted in these states and UTs to work in J&K and vice versa.
  2. President has promulgated an ordinance to amend J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019. It’s a follow-up to J&K turning into UT and merging into the mainstream.
  3. The ordinance has replaced sub-sections 2-6 of the law with two sub-sections, which say that members of IAS, IPS and IFS for the existing J&K cadre “shall be borne and become part of the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories cadre, and all future allocations of All India Services Officers for the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union territory of Ladakh shall be made to Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories cadre.
  4. Officers “so borne or allocated” on AGMUT cadre shall function in accordance with rules framed by the Centre.
  5. The move was also necessitated by paucity of officers in Ladakh. Since the region is harsh, most officers are unwilling to serve there.
  6. Section 13 of the Act: “On and from the appointed day, the provisions contained in article 239A, which are applicable to “Union territory of Puducherry”, shall also apply to the “Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir”.

SIGNIFICANCE:

  1. The ordinance is likely to have significant bearing on the administration of the two UTs. It will give the government access to a larger talent pool at a time it is trying to quicken the pace of development in the erstwhile state.
  2. The merger of the existing J&K cadre of IAS, IPS and IFS officers is both a political and administrative move. It sends the message of total integration of J&K with the Centre while putting a question mark on the time it may take to return the region’s statehood.

 

Source: Indian Express

 

3) Karnataka’s Brahmin marriage schemes

GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

CONTEXT:

  1. Karnataka State Brahmin Development Board has obtained approvals to launch two marriage schemes (Arundhati and Maitreyi) on a pilot basis – one offering financial bonds of Rs3 lakh to 25 Brahmin women who marry priests from economically weak background and the other offering Rs 25,000 each for the marriage of 550 women from economically weak families from the community.

ABOUT:

  1. These two schemes aim to assist weaker sections of the community.
  2. Arundhati scheme: 550 Brahmin women from poor background will be given Rs 25,000 each for their marriage.
  3. Maitreyi scheme: A financial bond of Rs 3 lakh, which is to be used over three years, will be created for 25 women who marry Brahmin priests from poor background. Initially, this scheme with the Rs 3 lakh financial bond was proposed in the name of the bride who marries BPL Brahmin farmers or cooks or priests. This scheme will require the couples to stay married for three years to avail the entire bond of Rs 3 lakh. Installments of Rs 1 lakh will be paid at the end of each year of the marriage.
  4. Around three per cent of the six crore population in Karnataka belongs to the Brahmin community.
  5. The  marriage assistance scheme is on the lines of another scheme– Shaadi Bhagya – that was launched  in 2013 to provide Rs 50,000 for the marriage of women from economically weak minority families.
  6. Rs 14 crore has also been set aside to help students from poor Brahmin families in the form of scholarships, payment of fees and providing training to those who have passed the preliminary stage of examinations such as the UPSC.
  7. To avail benefits of the schemes, applicants have to certify that they do not own five or more acres of agricultural land, a residential flat that is more than 1,000 sq ft, that they do not belong to backward classes or scheduled castes and that the family income is below Rs 8 lakh per annum.

 

Source: Indian Express

 

4) An Indian gift helps Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 fight

GS 2: Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India's Interests

India and its Neighbourhood

CONTEXT:

  1. The free ambulance service, launched in 2016 by India, proves crucial in Sri Lanka’s response to the COVID-19 virus.
  2. The 4th meeting under Joint Working Group (JWG) on fisheries was also held recently between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka to find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue.

ABOUT:

  1. 7.56 million USD grant was provided by India for the Suwa Seriya [vehicle or journey for good health] service.
  2. It was launched on a pilot basis, which was later extended throughout the country with additional grants from India.
  3. It is India’s second-largest grant project to Sri Lanka after the housing project of more than 60,000 houses, with a nearly 400 million USD grant.
  4. India also helped with Capacity Building by providing training and refresher programmes for Sri Lankan emergency medical technicians which further generated employment for the local population.

Why Sri Lanka is important for India?

  1. Sri Lanka’s location in the Indian Ocean region has been of strategic geopolitical relevance to India.
  2. It has a list of highly strategic ports located among busiest sea lanes of communication.
  3. It is a member of regional groupings like SAARC and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) in which India plays a leading role.
  4. It is one of India’s largest trading partners among the SAARC countries. India in turn is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner globally.

 

Source: The Hindu

 

5) India's power ministry proposes pushing back emission norms deadline

GS 2: Government Policies & Interventions

GS 3: Environmental Pollution & Degradation

CONTEXT:

  1. India's power ministry has proposed pushing back the deadlines for adoption of new emission norms by coal-fired power plants, stating that "an unworkable time schedule" would burden utilities and lead to an increase in power tariffs. However, a final decision will have to be approved by the Supreme Court

ABOUT:

  1. India initially had set a 2017 deadline for thermal power plants to comply with emissions standards for installing Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) units that cut emissions of toxic sulphur dioxide. This was later changed to varying deadlines for different regions, ending in 2022.
  2. Ministry of Power has proposed a "graded action plan," whereby areas where plants are located would be graded according to the severity of pollution, with Region 1 referring to critically polluted areas, and Region 5 being the least polluted.
  3. The target should be to maintain uniform ambient air quality across the country and not uniform emission norms for thermal power plants.
  4. This could avoid immediate increase in power price in various relatively clean areas of the country (and) avoid unnecessary burden on power utilities/consumers.

Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FED):

  1. Removal of Sulfur Dioxide. It seeks to remove gaseous pollutants viz. SO2 from exhaust flue gases generated in furnaces, boilers, and other industrial processes due to thermal processing, treatment, and combustion.

 

Source: The Hindu

 

6) Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1,India Report

GS 2: Issues Related to Elderly

Human Resource

Government Policies & Interventions

CONTEXT:

  1. Union Ministry for Health & Family Welfare released INDIA REPORT on Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1 today on the virtual platform.

ABOUT:

  1. LASI is a full–scale national survey of scientific investigation of the health, economic, and social determinants and consequences of population ageing in India.
  2. The National Programme for Health Care of Elderly, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has undertaken the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India, through International Institute for Population Sciences, (IIPS), Mumbai in collaboration with Harvard School of Public Health, University of Southern California, USA, Dte.GHS, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and National Institute on Ageing.
  3. It is India’s first and the world’s largest ever survey that provides a longitudinal database for designing policies and programmes for the older population in the broad domains of social, health, and economic well-being.
  4. The LASI has embraced state-of-the-art large-scale survey protocols and field implementation strategies including representative sample of India and its States, socioeconomic spectrum, an expansive topical focus, a longitudinal design, and the use of Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) technology for data collection, quality control, and Geographic Information System (GIS).
  5. A unique feature of LASI is the coverage of comprehensive biomarkers. No other survey in India collects detailed data on health and biomarkers together with information on family and social network, income, assets, and consumption.
  6. It collects detailed data on health and biomarkers together with information on family and social network, income, assets, and consumption.

CENSUS DATA:

  1. In 2011 census, the 60+ population accounted for 8.6% of India’s population, accounting for 103 million elderly people. Growing at around 3% annually, the number of elderly age population will rise to 319 million in 2050.75% of the elderly people suffer from one or the other chronic disease.
  2. 40% of the elderly people have one or the other disability and 20% have issues related to mental health.

FINDINGS OF REPORT:

  1. Around 23 per cent of the elderly population (age 60 years and above) have multi-morbidities; elderly women are more likely to have multi-morbidity conditions.
  2. The results of the survey encapsulated data from more than 42,000 households, covering over 72,000 older adults across all states and union territories except Sikkim.
  3. Self-reported presence of major chronic health conditions and multi-morbidities among those aged 45 and above increased with age.
  4. The chronic health conditions are pronounced among those aged 75 and above and are dominated by cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and hypertension.
  5. The percentage of people without morbidity consistently declined with age. About 73 per cent of the population below age 45 are found to be having no morbid conditions and this share is reduced to 44 per cent in the age group 75 and above. The decline, however, is slower from age 60 onward.
  6. One fifth of the population below 45 years had a single morbid condition and amongst the oldest old, one out of every three possessed a morbid condition.
  7. A tenth of the people in the age group 45-49 had multi-morbidity while 26 per cent among the elderly of age 70-74 have these conditions. However, this reduced by two percentage points for the next age group of 75-79. 
  8. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the most prominent among those above 45.
  9. Bone or joint diseases and diabetes are also observed to be high among the elderly.
  10. Chronic lung diseases show a fluctuating pattern with rise in age. Neurological or psychiatric conditions constitute small part of the morbid conditions found among the elderly and the rate sees a noticeable rise after age 74. 
  11. Share of people living with cancer was only around 0.7 per cent among the senior citizens. The prevalence of high cholesterol and stroke among the same demographic is about 2.5 and 2.7 per cent respectively.
  12. By 2030, 45 per cent of the total burden of diseases, majorly non-communicable, is expected to be borne by the old-age population. Adequate investment in elderly healthcare and efficacious policies and their timely management are thus imperative.

SIGNIFICANCE:

  1. The evidence from LASI will be used to further strengthen and broaden the scope of National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly and also help in establishing a range of preventive and health care programmes for older population and most vulnerable among them.
  2. This report will provide base for national and state level programmes and policies for elderly population.
  3. LASI data shall assist in addressing the broad aims of the Decade of Healthy Ageing and will lead to convergence within various national health programs and also promote inter-sectoral coordination with other line Departments/Ministries.
  4. For the best medical care to elderly, India has one of the ambitious programme of the world, Ayushman Bharat Yojana which focuses on expansion of the healthcare facilities.

 

Source: PIB, Down To Earth

 

7) Global warming: Mollusc species collapsing in eastern Mediterranean

GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Preliminary : Bio-diversity and Climate Change

CONTEXT:

  1. According to a recent study, marine molluscs — that comprise several marine species — have collapsed in parts of the eastern Mediterranean due to rising temperature of water.

ABOUT:

  1. As water turns warmer due to global warming, marine organisms that cannot adapt to changing temperature migrate to cooler water areas or die.
  2. While the mollusc species originally native to the eastern Mediterranean are on the decline, tropical invaders have increased significantly.
  3. The species that migrate via the Suez Canal are well adapted to the warm water in the eastern Mediterranean and can, therefore, settle in large numbers. They now form large populations with fully reproductive individuals.
  4. There are several other factors contributing to the collapse of the species, most notably pollution and the pressures from invasive species.

 

Source: Down To Earth

 

8) Fall armyworm bane back in Bihar’s maize-growing eastern districts

GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Preliminary : Bio-diversity and Climate Change

CONTEXT:

  1. Farmers in Bihar have been hit hard by the fall armyworm (FAW) attacks on their maize crops.

ABOUT:

  1. The FAW attack has been reported from the state’s eastern districts such as Madhepura, Purnia, Bhagalpur, Saharsa and Khagaria.
  2. The deadly FAW was first spotted in India in May 2018. As of 2020, it has spread to as many as 14 states. It is an invasive and polyphagous (feeding on many foods) pest. It can attack cereals and forage grasses.
  3. They feed on maize because of the presence of cellulose in it.
  4. The eastern region of Bihar is popularly known as the ‘maize hub’ where the crop is cultivated in around two lakh hectares of land. The average annual crop production has been around 22 lakh tonnes, but in 2019, around 40 per cent of total maize crops were reportedly destroyed by FAW.
  5. Villagers said small dose of pesticides do not work on FAW. The unrestricted use of highly toxic pesticide resulted in the deaths of crows in 2020.

 

Source: Down To Earth

 

9) Greenhouse gas emissions from man-managed grasslands similar to global croplands

GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Preliminary : Bio-diversity and Climate Change

CONTEXT:

  1. A new study shows that emissions of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) from grasslands increased by a factor of 2.5 since 1750 mainly due to increased emissions from livestock. This has more than compensated for reduced emissions from the shrinking number of wild grazers.

ABOUT:

  1. The net carbon sink effect of grasslands (the ability of grasslands to absorb carbon and pack it in the soil) worldwide was estimated to have intensified over the last century but mainly in sparsely-grazed, natural grasslands.
  2. Over the last decade, grasslands intensively managed by humans have become a net source of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it has greenhouse gas emission levels similar to those of global croplands, which represent a large source of greenhouse gases.
  3. The recent trends seen towards the expansion of pasture land and higher livestock numbers lead to expect that global grasslands will accelerate climate warming if better policies are not put in place to favour soil carbon increases, stop deforestation for ranching, and develop climate-smart livestock production systems.

CONCLUSION:

  1. In the face of climate change and increased demand for livestock products, these findings highlight the need to use sustainable management to preserve and enhance soil carbon storage in grasslands.
  2. Full greenhouse gas reporting for each country could facilitate the assessment of progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and better link national greenhouse gas budgets to the observed growth rates of emissions in the atmosphere.
  3. In the context of low-warming climate targets, the mitigating or amplifying role of grasslands will depend on a number of aspects. This includes future changes in grass-fed livestock numbers, stability of accumulated soil carbon in grassland and whether carbon storage can be further increased over time or if it will saturate, as observed in long-term experiments.

 

Source: Down To Earth

 

10) Antarctic ozone hole — one of the largest, deepest — closes

GS 3: Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Preliminary : Bio-diversity and Climate Change

CONTEXT:

  1. According to World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the annually occurring ozone hole over the Antarctic had rapidly grown from mid-August and peaked at around 24 million square kilometres — one of the largest so far — in early October 2020.

ABOUT:

  1. The expansion of the hole was driven by a strong, stable and cold polar vortex and very cold temperatures in the stratosphere. The same meteorological factors also contributed to the record 2020 Arctic ozone hole, which has also closed.
  • A polar vortex is a wide expanse of swirling cold air, a low pressure area, in polar regions. During winters, the polar vortex at the North Pole expands, sending cold air southward.
  • An ozone hole is the thinning of the ozone layer boosted in size by colder temperatures.
  1. As the temperatures high up in the stratosphere starts to rise, ozone depletion slows, the polar vortex weakens and breaks down. By the end of December, ozone levels return to normal. This time around, however, the process took longer.
  2. The formation of ozone hole in the Antarctic has been an annual occurrence and has been recorded for the last 40 years.
  3. Human-made chemicals migrate into the stratosphere and accumulate inside the polar vortex. It begins to shrink in size as warmer temperatures dominate.
  4. The 2020 Antarctic hole was unprecedented as the polar vortex kept the temperature of the ozone layer cold, preventing the mixing of ozone depleted air above Antarctica with ozone rich air from higher latitudes. 
  5. There is a need to enforce the Montreal Protocol banning emissions of ozone depleting substances (OSD).

 

Source: Down To Earth