11thFebruary,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 11thFebruary,2022

(30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • Constitutional Validity of the Laws That Limit Employment for Citizens from Outside the State (TH, pg 6)
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tagging and Radio Waves (TH, pg 10)
  • Threats to Cryptocurrency and How it works? (TH, pg 12)
  • Understanding the Policy Stances of the RBI (TH, pg 1)
  • Global Environment Facility (GEF) (PIB)
  • Y-Shaped Seat Belt(TH, pg 10)

 

  1. Constitutional Validity of the Laws That Limit Employment for Citizens from Outside the State (TH, pg 6)

  • Context: Over the last three years, several States have enacted laws that limit employment for citizens from outside the State. These laws raise questions on the conception of India as a nation.
Analysis
  • There are at least three important constitutional questions that arise from these Acts.
  • First, Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution guarantees freedom to carry out any occupation, trade or business.
  • There may be reasonable restrictions “in the interests of the general public”, and in particular related to specifying any professional or technical qualifications, or to reserve a sector for government monopoly.
  • These Acts, by requiring private businesses to reserve 75% of lower end jobs for locals, encroaches upon their right to carry out any occupation.
  • In 2005, the Constitution was amended to allow reservation in private educational institutions for socially and educationally backward classes and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • This amendment applies to admissions in private educational institutions and not to jobs in the private sector.
  • Second, the provision of reservation by virtue of domicile or residence may be unconstitutional.
  • Article 16 of the Constitution specifically provides for equality of opportunity for all citizens in public employment. It prohibits discrimination on several grounds including place of birth and residence.
  • However, it permits Parliament to make law that requires residence within a State for appointment to a public office.
  • Note two points here. This enabling provision is for public employment and not for private sector jobs. And the law needs to be made by Parliament, and not by a State legislature.
  • The third question is whether 75% reservation is permitted.
  • In the Indra Sawhney case in 1992, the Supreme Court capped reservations in public services at 50%. A 50% reservation ceiling limit was fixed by a nine-judge Bench in the Indra Sawhney case.
  • Further, the 1992 judgment had barred reservation solely on economic criterion.
  • In a 6:3 majority verdict, the apex court, in Indra Sawhney, had held that “a backward class cannot be determined only and exclusively with reference to economic criterion… It may be a consideration or basis along with and in addition to social backwardness, but it can never be the sole criterion”.
Affects equality
  • The Constitution conceptualises India as one nation with all citizens having equal rights to live, travel and work anywhere in the country. These State laws go against this vision by restricting the right of out-of-State citizens to find employment in the State.
  • This restriction may also indirectly affect the right to reside across India as finding employment becomes difficult.
Another fallout
  • Other than potentially increasing costs for companies, there may also be an increase in income inequality across States as citizens of poorer States with fewer job opportunities are trapped within their States.
  • There may also be serious consequences to the idea of India as a nation. Can people across States imagine themselves as citizens of one nation if they cannot freely find work and settle down across the nation?

 

  1. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tagging and Radio Waves (TH, pg 10)

  • Context:The Army has commenced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging of its ammunition inventory, which it said would lead to increased efficiency in technical activities carried out in ammunition depots and reduce inventory carrying costs.
Analysis
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) refers to a wireless system comprised of two components: tags and readers.
  • The reader is a device that has one or more antennas that emit radio waves and receive signals back from the RFID tag.
  • RFID tags can store a range of information from one serial number to several pages of data.
  • RFID systems use radio waves at several different frequencies to transfer data.
  • However, there is concern about the potential hazard of electromagnetic interference (EMI) to electronic medical devices (pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) etc.) from radio frequency transmitters like RFID.
  • EMI is a degradation of the performance of equipment or systems (such as medical devices) caused by an electromagnetic disturbance.
  • RFID is similar to barcoding in that data from a tag or label are captured by a device that stores the data in a database.
  • RFID, however, has several advantages over systems that use barcode asset tracking software. The most notable is that RFID tag data can be read outside the line-of-sight, whereas barcodes must be aligned with an optical scanner.
  • An RFID tag can hold much more data about an item than a barcode can.
  • In addition, RFID tags are not susceptible to the damages that may be incurred by barcode labels, like ripping and smearing.
  • Smart labels differ from RFID tags in that they incorporate both RFID and barcode technologies. They’re made of an adhesive label embedded with an RFID tag inlay, and they may also feature a barcode and/or other printed information.
  • Smart labels can be encoded and printed on-demand using desktop label printers, whereas programming RFID tags are more time consuming and requires more advanced equipment.
RFID Technology is Employed in Many Industries to Perform Such Tasks as:
  • Inventory management
  • Asset tracking
  • Personnel tracking
  • Controlling access to restricted areas
  • ID Badging
  • Supply chain management
  • Counterfeit prevention (e.g. in the pharmaceutical industry)
What are Radio Waves
  • Radio waves have the longest wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Astronomical objects that have a changing magnetic field can produce radio waves.
  • Radio emissions can be from a variety of sources including radio bursts from the Sun, the Earth, and even from Jupiter’s ionosphere whose wavelengths measure about fifteen meters in length.
  • Radio bursts from the Sun caused by electrons that have been ejected into space during solar flares moving at 20% of the speed of light.
Radio Telescopes
  • Radio telescopes look toward the heavens to view planets, comets, giant clouds of gas and dust, stars, and galaxies.
  • By studying the radio waves originating from these sources, astronomers can learn about their composition, structure, and motion.
  • Radio astronomy has the advantage that sunlight, clouds, and rain do not affect observations.
  • Since radio waves are longer than optical waves, radio telescopes are made differently than the telescopes used for visible light.
  • Radio telescopes must be physically larger than an optical telescopes in order to make images of comparable resolution.
  • But they can be made lighter with millions of small holes cut through the dish since the long radio waves are too big to “see” them.
  • In order to make a clearer, or higher resolution, radio image, radio astronomers often combine several smaller telescopes, or receiving dishes, into an array.
  • Together, these dishes can act as one large telescope whose resolution is set by the maximum size of the area.
  • The National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico is one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories.
The Radio Sky
  • If we were to look at the sky with a radio telescope tuned to 408 MHz, the sky would appear radically different from what we see in visible light.
  • Instead of seeing point-like stars, we would see distant pulsars, star-forming regions, and supernova remnants would dominate the night sky.
  • Radio telescopes can also detect quasars. The term quasar is short for quasi-stellar radio source.
  • The name comes from the fact that the first quasars identified emit mostly radio energy and look much like stars.
  • Quasars are very energetic, with some emitting 1,000 times as much energy as the entire Milky Way.
  • However, most quasars are blocked from view in visible light by dust in their surrounding galaxies.
  • Astronomers identified the quasars with the help of radio data from the VLA radio telescope because many galaxies with quasars appear bright when viewed with radio telescopes.

 

  1. Threats to Cryptocurrency and How it works? (TH, pg 12)

  • Context: RBI Governor said that cryptocurrencies were a threat to the country’s financial stability and had no underlying value, not even a tulip.
  • The tulip reference is to a 17th-century market bubble when investors bet on the price of tulip bulbs.
Analysis
  • Cryptocurrency or crypto, is any form of currency that exists digitally or virtually and uses cryptography to secure transactions.
  • Cryptocurrencies don’t have a central issuing or regulating authority, instead using a decentralized system to record transactions and issue new units.
  • Cryptocurrency is a digital payment system that doesn’t rely on banks to verify transactions.
  • It’s a peer-to-peer system that can enable anyone anywhere to send and receive payments.
  • Instead of being physical money carried around and exchanged in the real world, cryptocurrency payments exist purely as digital entries to an online databasedescribing specific transactions called Blockchain.
  • When you transfer cryptocurrency funds, the transactions are recorded in a public ledger. Cryptocurrency is stored in digital wallets.
  • Cryptocurrency received its name because it uses encryption to verify transactions. This means advanced coding is involved in storing and transmitting cryptocurrency data between wallets and to public ledgers. The aim of encryption is to provide security and safety.
  • The first cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, which was founded in 2009.
How it works?
  • Cryptocurrencies run on a distributed public ledger called blockchain, a record of all transactions updated and held by currency holders.
  • Units of cryptocurrency are created through a process called mining, which involves using computer power to solve complicated mathematical problems that generate coins. Users can also buy the currencies from brokers, then store and spend them using cryptographic wallets.
  • Usually, cryptocurrency is stored in crypto wallets, which are physical devices or online software used to store the private keys to your cryptocurrencies securely.
Advantages of Cryptocurrency:
  1. Protection from inflation
  • Inflation has caused many currencies to urge their value to decline with time.
  • There are only 21 million Bitcoins released within the planet. So, because the demand increases, its value will increase but the supply is limited, within the long run, prevent inflation.
  1. Self-governed and managed
  • The cryptocurrency transactions are stored by developers/miners on their hardware, for which they get the transaction fee as a gift for doing so.
  • Since the miners have become acquired it, they keep transaction records accurate and up-to-date, keeping the integrity of the cryptocurrency and also the records decentralized.
  1. Decentralized
  • The decentralization helps keep the currency monopoly free and in restraint, so nobody can determine the flow and the worth of the cryptocurrency, which, in turn, will keep it stable and secure, unlike fiat currencies which are controlled by the Government.
  1. Cost-effective mode of transaction
  • One of the most uses of cryptocurrencies is to send money across borders. With the help of cryptocurrency, the transaction fees paid by a user are reduced to a negligible or zero amount.
  • It does so by eliminating the need for third parties, like VISA or PayPal, to verify a transaction. It removes the requirement to pay any extra transaction fees.
  1. Boosting International trade
  • Cryptocurrency can be bought using many currencies of different countries
  • rather than in Hard Currencies like the US dollar, European euro, UK Pound, Japanese yen and Chinese Yuan.
  1. Secure and private
  • The blockchain ledger relies on different mathematical puzzles, which are hard to decode. It makes cryptocurrency safer than ordinary electronic transactions.
  • Cryptocurrencies also don’t require a bank account. They are stored in digital wallets.
  1. Easy transfer of funds
  • Cryptocurrencies have always kept themselves as an optimal solution for transactions. Transactions, whether international or domestic in cryptocurrencies, are lightning-fast.
  • It will be because the verification requires little time to process as there are only some barriers to cross.
Disadvantages of Cryptocurrency
  1. Illegal transactions
  • Since the privacy and security of cryptocurrency transactions are high, it’s hard for the government to trace down any user by their wallet address or keep tabs on their data. Bitcoin has been used as a mode of payment (exchanging money) during many illegal deals in the past, like buying drugs on the dark web.
  1. Risk of Data Loss
  • The developers wanted to make hacking defenses, and impenetrable authentication protocols.
  • It would make it safer to position money in cryptocurrencies than physical cash or bank vaults.
  • But if any user loses the private key to their wallet, there is no getting it back. The wallet will remain locked away along with the number of coins inside it. It might result in the loss of the user.
  1. Power lies in few hands
  • Although cryptocurrencies are known for their feature of being decentralized, the flow and amount of some currencies within the market are still controlled by their creators and some organizations.
  • These holders can manipulate the coin for enormous swings in its price. Even hugely traded coins are at risk of these manipulations like Bitcoin, whose value doubled several times in 2021.
  1. No refund or cancellation
  • If there is a dispute between concerned parties, or if someone mistakenly sends funds to a wrong wallet address, the coin cannot be retrieved by the sender. It might be utilized by many folks to cheat others out of their money.
  • Since there are no refunds, one can easily be created for a transaction whose product or services they never received.
  1. High consumption of Energy
  • Mining cryptocurrencies require plenty of computational power and electricity input, making it highly energy-intensive. Mining requires advanced computers and plenty of energy. One cannot do it on ordinary computers.
  • Major Bitcoin miners are in countries like China that use coal to produce electricity. It has increased China’s carbon footprint tremendously.
  1. Vulnerable to hacks
  • Although cryptocurrencies are very secure, exchanges don’t seem to be that secure.
  • Most exchanges store the wallet data of users to figure their user ID correctly. This data is often stolen by hackers, giving them access to lots of accounts.

 

  1. Understanding the Policy Stances of the RBI (TH, pg 1)

  • Context:The RBI has decided to keep the benchmark repo rate unchanged at 4% and reiterated its ‘accommodative’ policy stance in a bid to ensure the economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic becomes durable and broad-based.
  • The improving outlook for inflation gave it room to focus on growth, the RBI added.
Analysis
  • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) took the view that continued policy support — which means status quo on interest rates and an accommodative policy stance — is warranted for a durable and broad-based recovery.
  • Leaving the Repo rate — at which RBI lends to commercial banks — and the reverse repo rate — at which RBI borrows from commercial banks, unchanged indicates low interest rates will continue for the time being.
  • Economists said a key reason RBI has kept the policy interest rate at historic lows for longer is to spur a more durable rebound in private consumption.
  • Borrowers, especially home buyers, will benefit as lending rates are unlikely to go up in the near future.
  • Savers and depositors, on the other hand, will find their interest income unchanged.
  • After taking into account the 5.59% inflation in December, depositors are making a nominal loss on one-year term deposits. The State Bank of India offers 5.10% interest on one-year fixed deposits.
What about debt and equity investors?
  • Fund managers also believe bond yields may remain volatile, and investors should be vigilant.
  • As for equity investors, the continuing low interest rate and accommodative stance of the monetary policy means further rise in equity valuations for now.
  • RBI’s focus on growth will likely push up equity markets further.
Policy Stances of the RBI
  • Theoretically, the Indian central bank gives three main types of forward guidance/policy stance to markets—
  • accommodative (status quo on interest rates or a rate cut in near future),
  • tight (to indicate an impending rate hikes) and
  • neutral (which doesn’t have any particular meaning. This means anything can happen anytime).
  • Sometimes the RBI goes a step further and mentions words like:
  • ‘easing’ (meaning, double sure—the rate cut is here and now), and
  • ‘calibrated tightening’ (not sure what it means—aren’t all policy actions ‘calibrated’ in some way?).
  • But many a time this forward guidance turns out to be useless for markets. The real events may unfold differently from what the RBI says in its policy stance.
The joke on ‘neutral’ stance
  • Since everything is dependent on data, the only rate stance that makes any sense, and can never go wrong, is ‘neutral’.
  • That’s because when in neutral stance, the policy action can swing both ways. No complaints. But then, why we need a stated ‘neutral’ stance at all?
  • The MPC will have to be neutral anyway to become flexible enough to tweak its rate decisions as per the situation demands. In that sense, every central bank is ‘neutral’ and will have to be ‘neutral’; it’s implicit in their kind of work.
  • It’s perhaps time the RBI does away with certain jargons, instead goes for rate decisions depending on data, which is what it does anyway even now.

 

  1. Global Environment Facility (GEF) (PIB)

  • Context: The Integrated Management of Wetland Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IMWBES) project is funded under Global Environment Facility (GEF)Trust Fund.
  • The three wetlands included in the project are Sasthamcotta Lake in Kerala, Harike Lake in Punjab and Kabartal in Bihar.
Analysis 
  • The GEF Trust Fundwas established to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. 
  • It was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.
  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a Financial Mechanismfor 5 major international environmental conventions:
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC);
  • The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD);
  • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs);
  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD);
  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury.
  • GEF funds are available to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to meet the objectives of the international environmental conventions and agreements.
  • Through the projects they undertake with support of GEF,these countries achieve global environmental benefits and fulfill their commitments under the main environmental conventions.
  • GEF funding to support the projects is contributed by donor countries.
  • These financial contributions are replenished every four years by the 40 GEF donor countries.
  • Both developed and developing countries are or have been donors to the GEF Trust Fund.
  • Note: India is also a donor country to the GEF.
  • The World Bank serves as the GEF Trustee, administering the GEF Trust Fund (contributions by donors).
  • GEF brings together 184 member governments in addition to civil society, international organizations, and private sector partners.
  • The GEF administers two trust funds i.e. Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF).
  • It also provides secretariat services for the Adaptation Fund.
  • The SCCF operates in parallel with the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). Both funds have a mandate to serve the Paris Agreement.

Do you know?

  • The LDCF is enabling Least Developed Countries to prepare for a more resilient future.
  • LDCF funding helps recipient countries address their short-, medium- and long-term resilience needs and reduce climate change vulnerability in priority sectors and ecosystems.
  • In 2001, the 194 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set out to address this challenge by establishing the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) – the only facility exclusively dedicated to helping these countries adapt to new climate realities.
  • The Special Climate Change Fund is one of the world’s first multilateral climate adaptation finance instruments, was created at the 2001 Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to help vulnerable nations to address these negative impacts of climate change.
  • SCCF financing is open to all vulnerable developing countries and supports a wide spectrum of adaptation activities, including innovative tools that can be scaled for impact.
  • The SCCF’s main goal is to facilitate the creation of strong, climate-resilient economies and communities by helping countries.

 

  1. Y-Shaped Seat Belt(TH, pg 10)

  • Soon, all “front-facing” seats, including middle-rear seats, will be required to have a “three-point” or Y-shaped seat belt, since it spreads the energy all over the body in the event of a collision, Ministryof Road Transport and Highways said recently.
  • In the recent past, the Ministry also proposed to make six airbags compulsory for all passenger cars.

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