30 December 2020: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Exam
Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
Topic: Culture, Government policies
1)“Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan” Project
Tourism and Culture Minister took a review meeting of the Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan project in New Delhi.
- The project is a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Archaeological Survey of India and State Government for developing tourism amenities at heritage or natural or tourist sites spread across India for making them tourist friendly, in a planned and phased manner.
- The project was launched on 27th September, 2017 on World Tourism Day.
The project aims to encourage companies from public and private sector, trusts, NGOs, individuals and other stakeholders to become Monument Mitras and take up the responsibility of developing and upgrading the basic and advanced tourist amenities at these sites as per their interest and viability in terms of a sustainable investment model under CSR.
- Under the project, 27 MoUs have been awarded to 12 Monument Mitras for 25 sites and two Technological interventions across India.
- Under the MoUs handed over for implementation of amenities includes basic facilities such as Dustbin, Public Conveniences, Clean drinking water facility, Illumination, Ease of Access, Aesthetics and cleanliness of site, Bench Installations, Waste Management, App based Multi lingual Audio Guide, Installation of Digi Kiosk and Ticketing Kiosk, Signage-Deive and directional and Wi-Fi.
- Advance amenities under implementation include Visitor Facility Centre, Sound and Light Show-3D-Projection Mapping, Snack Counter and Souvenir Shop, Augmented Reality Experience and Virtual Reality.
Other Schemes for Promoting Tourism:
- Iconic Tourist Sites
- Swadesh Darshan
- Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD)
Source: News On Air
2) Zari-Zardozi crafts
Madhya Pradesh Government is introducing Campaign regarding promotion of "Ek Zila- Ek Shilp". The State Government is focussing on local traditional art of each district in the state and making efforts to promote it.
- The first of such kind of exhibition called Raag-Bhopali is being organized to promote Zari-Zardozi crafts of Bhopal.
- The richest embroidery of India is the Zari and the zardozi, which is known since late 16th century. This art form was introduced in India by the Mughal invaders. Zari zardozi is a form of embroidery, which came to India from Persia.
- Its literal translation, Zar means gold and dozi meaning embroidery. Zari zardozi embroidery under goes the process of using metallic-bound threads to sew on the various products.
- The Muslim communities residing in India initially executed Zardozi work.
- The states of India, which are involved in making of zardozi works, are Lucknow of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Ujjain of Madhya Pradesh etc.
- The Bhopal city of Madhya Pradesh is also one of the places where the traditional way of zardozi is still practiced.
- Zardozi is a style of embroidery, which has been in India since the time of Ramayana, Mahabharata. The Actual original process of Zardozi is known as ‘Kalabatun’.
- Real gold and silver wires were used enclosed along with the silk threads to decorate satin and velvet fabrics.
Source: News On Air
Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations
Topic: Health & Safety
3) National Summit on Good, Replicable Practices
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare digitally inaugurated the 7th National Summit on Good, Replicable Practices.
- He also launched New Health Management Information System (HMIS) along with the Operational Guidelines for TB services at AB-HWCs and the Operational Guidelines 2020 on Active Case Detection and Regular Surveillance for Leprosy.
- Ministry of Health & Family Welfare holds the National Summit on Good, Replicable Practices and Innovations in Public Healthcare Systems in India.
- While the first one was held in 2013 at Srinagar to recognize, showcase and document various best practices and innovations in public healthcare system, the last was held at Gand hinagar, Gujarat.
- Union Minister of Health also launched New Health Management Information System (HMIS) along with the Operational Guidelines for TB services at AB-HWCs and the Operational Guidelines 2020 on Active Case Detection and Regular Surveillance for Leprosy.
- Prime Minister has set a bold target of a TB-free India by 2025, five years ahead of the SDG targets of 2030.
Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
4) Zero-coupon bonds
The government has used financial innovation to recapitalize Punjab & Sind Bank by issuing the lender Rs 5,500-crore worth of non-interest bearing bonds.
- These are special types of zero coupon bonds issued by the government after proper due diligence and these are issued at par.
- The funds raised through the issuance of these instruments are being deployed to capitalize the state-run bank. These instruments are a variation of the recapitalization bonds issued earlier to public sector banks.
- These bonds will earn no interest for the subscriber and these are not tradable bonds.
- It means infusing more capital in state-run banks so that they meet the capital adequacy norms.
- Indian public sector banks are emphasized to maintain a Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 12%.
- CAR is the ratio of a bank’s capital in relation to its risk-weighted assets and current liabilities.
Reason for Recapitalisation
In compliance with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines which are based on Basel norms requiring banks to maintain certain amounts of capital reserves.
- A bond is a fixed income instrument that represents a loan made by an investor to a borrower. In simpler words, a bond acts as a contract between the investor and the borrower.
- Mostly Companies and Governments issue bonds and Investors buy those bonds as a savings and security option.
- These bonds have a maturity date and when once that is attained, the issuing company needs to pay back the amount to the investor along with a part of the profit.
- A zero-coupon bond is also known as an accrual bond.
- A zero-coupon bond is a debt security that does not pay interest but instead trades at a deep discount, rendering a profit at maturity, when the bond is redeemed for its full face value.
- Some bonds are issued as zero-coupon instruments from the start, while others bonds transform into zero-coupon instruments after a financial institution strips them of their coupons, and repackages them as zero-coupon bonds. Because they offer the entire payment at maturity, zero-coupon bonds tend to fluctuate in price, much more so than coupon bonds.
What kind of bonds are these?
- These recapitalization bonds are special types of bonds issued by the Central government specifically to a particular institution. Only those banks, whosoever is specified, can invest in them, nobody else.
- These bonds are “non-interest-bearing, non-transferable special GOI securities” have a maturity of 10-15 years and issued specifically to Punjab & Sind Bank.
- It is not tradable, it is not transferable.
- It is limited only to a specific bank, and it is for a specified period.
- It is held at the held-to-maturity (HTM) category of the bank as per the RBI guidelines.
- These bonds are different from traditional zero-coupon bonds on one account — as they are being issued at par, there is no interest; in previous cases, since they were issued at discount, they technically were interest bearing.
How do they differ from zero-coupon bonds issued by private firms?
Zero-coupon bonds by private companies are normally issued at discount, but since these special bonds are not tradable these can be issued at par.
Significance of Zero Coupon Bond
- The market participants term it both a ‘financial illusion’ and ‘great innovation’ by the government where it is using Rs 100 to create an impact of Rs 200 in the economy.
- The lender has kept the Zero Coupon Bond in the Held-to-Maturity (HTM) bucket, not requiring it to book any mark-to-market gains or losses from these bonds because these bonds are not tradable.
- The government has found an innovative way to capitalize banks, which does not affect the fiscal deficit while at the same time provides much needed equity capital to the banks.
- The funds raised through the issuance of Zero Coupon Bond can deployed to capitalize the state-run bank.
- Zero-coupon bonds are subject to interest rates risk if sold prior to the date of maturity.
- The sensitivity of long-term zero-coupon bonds to interest rates exposes them to duration risk which implies that higher a bond’s duration, the greater will be its sensitivity to interest rate changes.
Source: Indian Express
5) Measuring trend inflation in India
Maintaining the inflation target at 4% is appropriate for India, according to a working paper titled “Measuring Trend Inflation in India” released by RBI.
- The current inflation target of the central bank is 4 percent, plus or minus 2 percent. In case the inflation goes beyond this, the central bank usually uses a number of tools including holding or raising rates to check inflation.
- The paper's findings come ahead of the review of the flexible inflation target.
- As per the current mandate, RBI is required to maintain inflation at 4% with a lower tolerance of 2% and an upper limit of 6%.
- The paper finds a steady decline in trend inflation to 4.1-4.3% since 2014.
- A target set too below the trend imparts a deflationary bias to monetary policy because it will go into overkill relative to what the economy can intrinsically bear in order to achieve the target.
- The paper said there is an underlying decline in the inflation persistence, indicating that households and businesses in India are becoming more forward-looking than before.
- Analogously, a target that is fixed above the trend renders monetary policy too expansionary and prone to inflationary shocks and unanchored expectations. Hence, maintaining the inflation target at 4% is appropriate for India.
- Inflation refers to the rise in the prices of most goods and services of daily or common use, such as food, clothing, housing, recreation, transport, consumer staples, etc.
- Inflation measures the average price change in a basket of commodities and services over time.
- The opposite and rare fall in the price index of this basket of items is called ‘deflation’.
- Inflation is indicative of the decrease in the purchasing power of a unit of a country’s currency. This is measured in percentage.
Effects of inflation
- The purchasing power of a currency unit decreases as the commodities and services get dearer. This also impacts the cost of living in a country.
- When inflation is high, the cost of living gets higher as well, which ultimately leads to a deceleration in economic growth.
- A certain level of inflation is required in the economy to ensure that expenditure is promoted and hoarding money through savings is demotivated.
Who measures Inflation in India?
Inflation is measured by a central government authority, which is in charge of adopting measures to ensure the smooth running of the economy. In India, the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation measures inflation.
How is Inflation measured?
- In India, inflation is primarily measured by two main indices — WPI (Wholesale Price Index) and CPI (Consumer Price Index), which measure wholesale and retail-level price changes, respectively.
- The CPI calculates the difference in the price of commodities and services such as food, medical care, education, electronics etc, which Indian consumers buy for use.
- On the other hand, the goods or services sold by businesses to smaller businesses for selling further is captured by the WPI. In India, both WPI (Wholesale Price Index) and CPI (Consumer Price Index) are used to measure inflation.
What are the main causes of Inflation?
- High demand and low production or supply of multiple commodities create a demand-supply gap, which leads to a hike in prices.
- Excess circulation of money leads to inflation as money loses its purchasing power.
- With people having more money, they also tend to spend more, which causes increased demand.
6) Ruthenium 106
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Mumbai has developed Eye Cancer therapy in the form of the first indigenous Ruthenium 106 Plaque for treatment of Ocular Tumours.
- The handling of plaque is very convenient for the Surgeon and it has been acknowledged to be at par with the international standards.
- The Department of Atomic Energy entered into a collaboration with Dr.Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.
- Later, AIIMS, New Delhi agreed to use the Plaque developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) for Eye Cancer treatment and it was in September 2020 that it was used for the first time for the treatment of a patient with Choroidal Hemangioma and the results proved to be satisfactory.
- So far the BARC plaques made in India through the Department of Atomic Energy have been used for seven cases for Ocular Cancer, out of which two were Retinoblastoma, two were Choroidal Melanoma, two Ocular Surface Squamous Neoplasia (OSSN) and one case of Choroidal Hemangioma.
- Ruthenium-106 is a radioactive form of the rare heavy metal ruthenium, which is a "platinum group" metal similar to platinum. Radioactive isotopes or forms of elements naturally decay into other elements, giving off radiation in the process.
- Ruthenium-106 is produced from the fission or splitting of uranium-235, the type of uranium used in nuclear fission reactors, so it's found in spent nuclear fuel. It's also used in medicine for cancer radiation therapy, especially for eye and skin tumors, so it may be produced for that purpose.
Other initiatives by BARC
BARC is developing Bullet Proof Jackets for security personnel and in the Agricultural sector, radiation techniques to extend the shelf life of vegetable and food products are being applied.