Daily Current Affairs 22

3th January 2021 : Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 3th January,2021

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

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • A) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  • An Analysis of the Statehood Demand by Puducherry (TH, pg 1)
  • National Population Register (NPR) Vs Census(TH, pg 1)
  • Parliamentary Standing Committee (TH, pg 9)
  • B) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
  • Draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP) (TH, pg 9)
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (TH, pg 6)
  • C) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  • Malabar Naval Exercise (TH, pg 9)
  • Raspberry Pi (TH, pg 16)
  • D) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations
  • Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) (TH, pg 15)
  • E) International Relations
  • Pakistan’s “first ever” National Security Policy (NSP) (TH, pg 6)
  • What is Hamas? (TH, pg 11)

 

A) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

  1. An Analysis of the Statehood Demand by Puducherry (TH, pg 1)
  • Context:Puducherry chief minister recently said that the Centre has decided to concede to the demand for statehood to Puducherry.
  • Puducherry was under the French rule for nearly 300 years.

Analysis

  • While the Lieutenant Governor (LG) is the nominal head in a Union Territory, appointed by the President of India, the Chief Minister is the elected head of the its executive.
  • The Indian political history is chequered with conflicts between these two heads, unless they are from the same party.
  • In India, the Chief Minister is a very powerful because the state’s law and order and police come under his or her direct supervision.
  • If you compare, even the Prime Minister does not command the armed forces directly. So, every CM wants the power to control the law and order in their state and they don’t want to be told by the LG what to do.
  • The demand for statehood for Puducherry is a product of this friction; though it’s nothing new.
  • The Union Government may be unlikely to accept the demand because Puducherry is a non-contiguous Union Territory.
  • Puducherry’s territories are not one single unit. It has Karaikkal which is away from Puducherry in Tamil Nadu, Mahe in Kerala and Yanam in Andhra Pradesh.
  • A UT can have an elected government too, like in the case of Delhi, Puducherry, and the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, but the administrative powers in this case are tilted in the favour of the L-G.
  • So far only four Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi and Puducherry — have Lt. Governors.
  • The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 carved out 14 States and six Union Territories, three of which were eventually became States — Manipur, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Later, the newly created Union Territories of Goa, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have also been granted Statehood.
  • The Constitution guarantees the Union government powers to form a State, increase or decrease the area of any State, and alter the boundaries or name of any State — as given in Article 3 of the Indian Constitution.

 

  1. National Population Register (NPR) Vs Census (TH, pg 1)
  • Context: The first phase of Census and the collection of details to update the National Population Register (NPR) have been postponed at least till September.
  • The Registrar-General of India (RGI) had in December informed the States that the freezing of boundaries of districts, sub-districts, tehsils, talukas and police stations had been postponed till June 2022.
  • Freezing of boundary limits of administrative units, at least three months prior to the exercise, is a pre-requisite for conducting the census. Even if the RGI issues an order in June to freeze the boundaries again, the exercise can take place only in September.

Analysis

What is the National Population Register (NPR)?

  • The NPR is a database of usual residents in the country who have stayed in a local area for the past six months or more and who intend to remain in the same place for the next six months or more.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
  • It is generated through house-to-house enumeration during the “house-listing” phase of the census, which is held once in 10 years.
  • The NPR is individual and identity specific unlike the Census which only provides information on the status of the residents of India and population swings.
  • The Census involves a detailed questionnaire — there were 29 items to be filled up in the 2011 census — aimed at eliciting the particulars of every person, including age, sex, marital status, children, occupation, birthplace, mother tongue, religion, disability and whether they belonged to any Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.
  • On the other hand, the NPR collects basic demographic data and biometric particulars.

What is the legal basis for the NPR?

  • While the census is legally backed by the Census Act, 1948, the NPR is a mechanism outlined in a set of rules framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • The Registrar General India, under Ministry of Home Affairs, shall act as the “National Registration Authority” (and will function as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration).
  • Incidentally, the Registrar General is also the country’s Census Commissioner.
  • The Registrar General may also issue general directions regarding registration of births and deaths.
  • Besides the usual person details, three biometrics namely photograph, 10 finger prints and 2 iris would be collected for persons of age 5 years and above.

Will Non-Resident Indians (NRI) be part of the NPR?   

  • By definition, an NRI is not a usual resident of the country. Therefore, they would not be in the NPR till they are non-residents.

What is the connection between NPR and Aadhaar (UID Number)?      

  • The data collected in NPR will be sent to UIDAI for de-duplication and issue of Aadhaar Number.
  • Thus, the register will contain three elements of data – (i) demographic data, (ii) biometric data and (iii) the Aadhaar (UID Number).

 

  1. Parliamentary Standing Committee (TH, pg 9)
  • Context: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports, assigned to examine the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill which seeks to raise the legal age of marriage for women to 21, has only one woman MP out of 31 members.
  • The Bill, piloted by the Women and Child Development Ministry, seeks to increase the legal age of marriage from 18 to 21.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports is a Rajya Sabha administered Committee.

Analysis

  • According to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States there shall be Parliamentary Standing Committees of the Houses (to be called the Standing Committees) related to Ministries/Departments.
  • The main objective of the standing committees is to secure more accountability of the Executive (i.e., the Council of Ministers) to the Parliament, particularly financial accountability.
  • They also assist the Parliament in debating the budget more effectively.
  • The 24 standing committees cover under their jurisdiction all the ministries / departments of the Central Government.
  • Each standing committee consists of 31 members (21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha).
  • The members (21) of the Lok Sabha are nominated by the Speaker from amongst its own members.
  • The members (10) of the Rajya Sabha are nominated by the Chairman from amongst its members.
  • Proportion of members belonging to different political parties are nominated based on their strength in the House.
  • A minister is not eligible to be nominated as a member of any of the standing committees.
  • In case a member, after his nomination to any of the standing committees, is appointed a minister, he then ceases to be a member of the committee.
  • The term of office of each standing committee is one year from the date of its constitution.
  • Out of the 24 standing committees, 8 work under the Rajya Sabha and 16 under the Lok Sabha.
  • Each of the Standing Committees shall have the following functions:
  • To consider the Demands for Grants of the related Ministries/Departments and report thereon. The report shall not suggest anything of the nature of cut motions;
  • To examine Bills, pertaining to the related Ministries/Departments, referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker.
  • To consider the annual reports of the Ministries/Departments and report on it;
  • To consider national basic long term policy documents presented to the Houses, if referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker.
  • The following limitations are imposed on the functioning of these standing committees:
  • They should not consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the concerned ministries / departments.
  • They should not generally consider the matters which are considered by other parliamentary committees.
  • It should be noted here that the recommendations of these committees are advisory in nature and hence not binding on the Parliament.

 

B) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

  1. Draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP) (TH, pg 9)
  • Context:Ministry of Civil Aviationhas released draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP) for public feedback.

Analysis

The key features of the Draft National Air Sports Policy are:

  • NASP 2022 covers sports like aerobatics, aeromodelling, amateur-built and experimental aircraft, ballooning, drones, gliding, hang gliding and paragliding; microlighting and paramotoring; skydiving and vintage aircraft.
  • The vision is to make India one of the top air sports nations by 2030.
  • NASP 2022 seeks to leverage India’s huge potential for air sports given its large geographical expanse, diverse topography and fair weather conditions.
  • An Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI) will be establishedunder the Ministry of Civil Aviation as the apex governing body.
  • Associations for each air sport will handle day to day activities e.g. Paragliding Association of India or Skydiving Association of India etc.
  • All competitions in India will be conducted as per the guidelines laid down by FAI.
  • The Fédération AéronautiqueInternationale (FAI), headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland is the world governing body for air sports.
  • Key equipment used for air sports shall be registered with the respective air sports association, till such equipment is decommissioned, damaged beyond repair or lost.
  • For air sports centred around a fixed location – for instance, Bir-Billing in Himachal Pradesh, Gangtok in Sikkim, Hadapsar in Maharashtra or Vagamon in Kerala – the said location can be declared as a ‘Control zone’ for air sports.
  • During peak winters, the level of air sports reduces in Europe and North America and the air sports aficionados migrate to milder climates.  ASFI and the air sports associations will work towards developing a hassle-free process to enable their movement to India.
  • The Government will consider allowing import of air sports equipment without any import duty for a particular number of years.
  • Schools, colleges and universities will be encouraged to have air sports included in their curriculum. 
  • Long term funding for development of air sports in India shall come from corporate investors, sponsors, membership fees, events and media rights.
  • To make air sports affordable to the common public, the Government will request the GST Council to consider rationalising the GST rate on air sports equipment to 5% or less.
  • An airspace map of India has been published on DGCA’s (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) DigitalSky Platform. The map segregates the entire airspace of India into red zone, yellow zone and green zone.  Air sports practitioners may rely on this easily accessible map for guidance. Operation in red and yellow zones requires permission from Central Government and the concerned Air Traffic Control authority respectively.  Operation in green zones for aircraft with all-up weight up to 500 kg does not require any permission.

 

  1. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (TH, pg 6)
  • Context: Five years since its introduction, there is vast scope for improvement in the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana.

Analysis

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)

  • It has been launched by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development.
  • Under the scheme, pregnant women and lactating mothers are offered a cash incentive of ₹6,000 for the birth of their first child as partial compensation for wage loss, to reduce maternal mortality and malnutrition levels among children.
  • Cash incentive of Rs 5000 is provided in three instalments i.e. first instalment of Rs 1000/ – on early registration of pregnancy at the Anganwadi Centre (AWC) / approved Health facility, second instalment of Rs 2000/ – after six months of pregnancy on receiving at least one ante-natal check-up (ANC) and third instalment of Rs 2000/ – after child birth is registered and the child has received the first cycle of BCG, OPV, DPT and Hepatitis – B, or its equivalent/ substitute.
  • The eligible beneficiaries would receive the incentive given under the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) for Institutional delivery and the incentive received under JSY would be accounted towards maternity benefits so that on an average a woman gets Rs 6000/-.
  • Under the National Food Security Act, 2013, all pregnant women (except those already receiving similar benefits under other laws) are entitled to maternity benefits of ₹6,000 per child.
  • In this context, the modalities of the scheme violate the NFSA: benefits are restricted to the first living child, and to ₹5,000 per woman.
  • The Scheme covers all Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers, excluding those who are in regular employment with the Central Government or the State Governments or PSUs or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.
  • In case of miscarriage/still birth, the beneficiary would be eligible to claim the remaining instalment(s) in event of any future pregnancy.
  • In case of infant mortality, she will not be eligible for claiming benefits under the scheme, if she has already received all the instalments of the maternity benefit under PMMVY earlier.
  • The scheme will provide Aadhaar linked, Direct Benefit Transfer in beneficiary’s bank/post office account in three instalments
  • at the stage of early registration of pregnancy,
  • after six months of pregnancy on at least one antenatal check-up and
  • registration of child birth & first cycle of immunisation of the child.
  • The PMMVY is Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which the cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40, for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States, it is 90:10 and 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.
  • The States are bound to implement this Scheme because the scheme is a by-product of the National Food Security Act.

PMMVY has been able to reach less than a third of the eligible beneficiaries

  • A vital programme to support lactating mothers and pregnant women by compensating them for loss of wages during their pregnancy has been able to reach less than a third of the eligible beneficiaries, researchers who extrapolated from data obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act said.

Causes

  • Several factors impeded proper implementation of the programme that aims to fight malnutrition among children.
  • First,the coverage and benefits were reduced (compared with NFSA norms, which are very modest in the first place). This defused public demand for PMMVY. Had the benefits been higher and universal, the scheme would have been a hit.
  • Second,the application process is tedious. Aside from filling a long form for each instalment, women have to submit a series of documents, including their ‘mother-and-child protection’ card, bank passbook, Aadhaar card and husband’s Aadhaar card. Essential details in different documents have to match, and the bank account needs to be linked with Aadhaar.
  • Third, there are frequent technical glitches in the online application and payment process. When an application is rejected, or returned with queries, the applicant may or may not get to know about it. Grievance redressal facilities are virtually non-existent.
  • Odisha, which decided to not implement PMMVY because it has its own State-sponsored scheme called ‘Mamata’ that includes two births, has a few lessons to offer through its near universal coverage.
  • The infant mortality rate among tribals is the fourth highest in Odisha, after Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Causes for dissatisfactionamong beneficiaries of PMMVY

  • One in three Aadhaar-based payments for the Centre’s maternity benefit scheme, or Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), was credited to a wrong bank account, according to a progress report on PoshanAbhiyaan (Nutrition Mission) released by the NITI Aayog.
  • A substantial number of payments (28% of all Aadhaar-based payments) are going to different bank accounts than what had been provided by the beneficiaries. It is a prime cause for dissatisfactionamong beneficiaries.
  • Under the PMMVY, pregnant women and lactating mothers receive ₹5,000 for their first child in three instalments.
  • Each tranche is released upon the beneficiaries meeting some conditions.
  • The money is meant to compensate women for loss of wages, and is aimed at ensuring a healthy nutritional development of the newborn.
  • The NITI Aayog has called for “simplification in documentation and operational rules” to avoid delays.
  • It has proposed to “rationalise” the mandatory waiting period of 180 days before the second instalment is released as well as the compulsory birth certificate for the release of the third instalment.
  • It calls for the training of auxiliary midwives who fill up the mother-child protection card, which is among the documents needed to get the benefit, and data entry operators so that application details are entered online and payments and complaints are processed on time.

Do you know?

  • Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR)refers to the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 women of reproductive age in a year.
  • Child Mortality Rate (CMR)refers to the number of deaths of children less than 5 years of age per 1000 live births.
  • Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)refers to the number of deaths of children less than one year of age per 1000 live births.
  • Neo natal Mortality Raterefers to the number of deaths of children less than 28 days per 1000 live births.
  • Peri-natal Mortality Raterefers to the sum total of neo-natal death and foetal deaths (still births) per 1000 live births.

 

C) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

  1. Malabar Naval Exercise (TH, pg 9)
  • Context:While the Navy gears up to hold its largest multilateral exercise ‘Milan’ at the end of February, there are requests from several countries for various formats of exercises, defence officials said, pointing out that Malabar is the most complex naval exercise India does with any other country.

Analysis

  • Malabar Naval Exerciseinvolves the US, Japanese, Australian and Indian navies and is aimed at achieving deeper military ties between the four nations.
  • The Malabar series of exercises, initiated in 1992 between the Indian and US Navies, and later joined by the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) in 2015 and by Australia in 2020.
  • The Malabar Coast refers to India’s southwest coast, lying on the narrow coastal plain of Karnataka and Kerala states.
  • The initial series of exercises were held off the coast of Malabar, and hence the name of the series but these naval engagements have been held in other areas as well including the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and in the Western Pacific.
  • The Malabar Exercise includes simulated war games and combat manoeuvres. The Exercise generally encompasses conduct of complex maritime operations in the surface, sub-surface and air domains, and focus on Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Air and Anti-Surface Firings, Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) including Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) and tactical scenario-based Exercise at Sea.
  • Japan has been in and out of the Malabar Exercise, mainly because of China’s protests.
  • The Indian government, had often given in to Chinese pressure, for the sake of overall improvement in relations with its Asian neighbour.
  • But in 2015, India put its foot down and a formal announcement was made that Japan would be a permanent invitee to Malabar, making it a trilateral exercise.

 

  1. Raspberry Pi (TH, pg 16)
  • Context: Recently, NASA launched a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which carried various equipment for astronauts on board the International Space Station.

Analysis

  • Among the various equipment were SBC computers which are built on single circuit boards, house a microprocessor, memory unit and other features required for a functional computer.
  • They are known as Astro Pi, built by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, in collaboration with the European Space Agency.
  • The foundation and the space agency aim to attract young people to experiment with computing and run their programmes in space.
  • The Raspberry Pi is a tiny and affordable computer that you can use to learn programming through fun, practical projects.
  • It mainly provides a series of small single-board computers (SBCs) with an aim to promote the study of basic computer science in schools.
  • The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity that works to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world.

 

D) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations

  1. Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) (TH, pg 15)
  • Context: The Delhi-based National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a Union Health Ministry laboratory and a key INSACOG lab, has asked States to temporarily pause sending COVID-19 positive samples to it.
  • Not all INSACOG labs have the same quality of equipment and manpower and therefore a surge or spike in some cities can mean difficulties in processing.

Analysis

What is INSACOG?

  • The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), jointly initiated by the Union Health Ministry of Health, and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) with Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
  • It is a consortium of 38 laboratories to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2.
  • It is also tasked with tracking certain combinations of mutations that become more widespread in India.
  • The INSACOG is mainly involved in genomic sequencing which is done by isolating the genetic material of the coronavirus samples.
  • The purpose of genome sequencing is to understand the role of certain mutations in increasing the virus’s infectivity.
  • Some mutations have also been linked to immune escape, or the virus’s ability to evade antibodies, and this has consequences for vaccines.
  • Labs across the world, including many in India, have been studying if the vaccines developed so far are effective against such mutant strains of the virus.

 

E) International Relations

  1. Pakistan’s “first ever” National Security Policy (NSP) (TH, pg 6)
  • In December 2021, Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) approved the country’s “first ever” National Security Policy (NSP).
  • The NSP is designed to be a “Comprehensive National Security Framework” and covers a five-year period from 2022-26.
  • The NSP seeks to ensure the “safety, security and dignity of the citizen of Pakistan”.
  • To achieve this objective, it puts “economic security” at its “core”.
  • Apart from economic and military matters the NSP also covers issues relating to foreign policy, terrorism, water security and demographics.

 

  1. What is Hamas? (TH, pg 11)
  • Context: Israel targeted Hamas positions in Gaza after rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave.

Analysis

  • Hamas or the Islamic Resistance Movement is the largest of several Palestinian militant Islamist groups based in Gaza strip.
  • Under its charter, it is committed to the destruction of Israel.
  • Hamas originally had a dual purpose of carrying out an armed struggle against Israel – led by its military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades – and delivering social welfare programmes.
  • But since 2005, when Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza, Hamas has also engaged in the Palestinian political process.