Daily Current Affairs 22

7th January 2021 : Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 7th January,2021

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

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
  • Green Energy Corridor (GEC) (PIB)
  • Heli-Borne Survey for Groundwater Management (PIB)
  • Nari Shakti Puraskars (PIB)
  • B) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations
  • High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People (PIB)
  • Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (ICERT) (TH, pg 1)
  • C) Economic Developments: India and World
  • Public Financial Management System (PFMS) (PIB)
  • Post Devolution Revenue Deficit (PDRD) Grant (PIB)
  • D) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
  • Asian Waterbird Census2022(TH, pg 2)
  • Jog Falls (TH, pg 5)
  • E) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  • Hike in Expenditure Limit for Candidates(TH, pg 10)
  • F) International Relations
  • Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) (TH, pg 1)
  • G) Clever Picks (Miscellaneous)
  • Mission Jeewan Raksha (PIB)

 

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

  1. Green Energy Corridor (GEC) (PIB)
  • Context:The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, approved the scheme on Green Energy Corridor (GEC) Phase-II for Intra-State Transmission System (InSTS) in seven States namely, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

Analysis

  • The Green Energy Corridor Project aims at synchronizing electricity produced from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, with conventional power stations in the grid.
  • The Central Financial Assistance (CFA) @ 33 percent of the project cost will help in offsetting the Intra-State transmission charges and thus keep the power costs down.
  • The scheme will help in achieving the target of 450 GW installed RE capacity by 2030.
  • This scheme is in addition to GEC-Phase-I which is already under implementation in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

 

  1. Heli-Borne Survey for Groundwater Management (PIB)
  • Context:Union Jal Shakti Minister and Union Minister for Science & Technology jointly launched a heli-borne survey for ground water management by flagging off a helicopter.

Analysis

  • To start with, the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana are being taken up for this latest heli-borne survey.
  • The Heli-borne geophysical mapping technique of CSIR-NGRI provides a high-resolution 3D image of the sub-surface up to a depth of 500 meters below the ground.
  • In some areas, this survey will also provide information about level, quantity, quality and information of ground water present as deep as 500 metres.
  • CSIR stands for Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and NGRI stands for National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad.
  • The project is aimed at mapping potential groundwater sources and its management for providing safe drinking water to millions of people living in the water scarce arid regions of our country.
  • This is a mega project of Rs. 150 crores to be implemented in two phases in collaboration with the Ministry of Jal Shakti as a part of National Aquifer Mapping Project.
  • The new technique would help in water conservation, identification of new places for ground water recharging and that too at lesser cost than the prevalent ones like digging tube wells using geophysics and remote sensing techniques.
  • The main advantages of the Heliborne geophysical survey are that it is fast, highly data dense, precise and obviously economical.
  • Moreover, it can be conducted in remote as well as inaccessible areas.

 

  1. Nari Shakti Puraskars (PIB)
  • Context:The Ministry of Women and Child Development has invited Nominations for the Nari Shakti Puraskar-2021.

Analysis

  • These awardsare given annually by the Ministry of Women and Child Development through the President of India toindividual men or women / groups / academic institutions / NGOs/ villages etc. in recognition of their exceptional work towards the cause of economic and social empowerment of women, especially for vulnerable and marginalized women.
  • Nari Shakti Puraskars are given on International Women’s Day observed on 8thMarch 2020.
  • In case of Individual category, the awardee must at least 25 years of age on 1st July of the award year.
  • If the applicant is an institution, it should have worked in the relevant field for at least last 5 years.
  • She should not have been a recipient earlier of the award (including Stree Shakti Puruskars).
  • An award may also be given to a State or Union Territory, which has appreciably improved Child Sex Ratio.

 

B) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations

  1. High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People (PIB)
  • Context: The Minister for of Environment, Forest & Climate Change said that India has joined over 75 countries that are part of the 30 by 30 High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People.
  • In South Asia, already Pakistan and Maldives have joined.

Analysis

  • The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People is an intergovernmental group of around 75 countries (by Jan 2022) co-chaired by Costa Rica and France and by the United Kingdom as Ocean co-chair, championing a global deal for nature and people with the central goal of protecting at least 30 percent of world’s land and ocean by 2030.
  • The 30×30 target is a global target which aims to halt the accelerating loss of species, and protect vital ecosystems that are the source of our economic security.

What is the relationship with the Global Ocean Alliance?

  • The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) supports a global target to protect at least 30% of the land and at least 30% of the ocean by 2030.
  • The Global Ocean Alliance (GOA) focuses on the global target to protect at least 30% of the ocean, in order to provide an important space to raise the profile of the ocean within the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • They are complementary alliances. The Chairs of the HAC, Costa Rica and France, are members of the Global Ocean Alliance, and the UK, chair of the GOA, is in turn, the Ocean Co-chair of the HAC.

 

 

 

 

  1. Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (ICERT) (TH, pg 1)
  • Context: With the help of Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN), an office within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the main conspirator and creator of the Bulli Bai app on GitHub has been arrested.

Analysis

  • The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) is an office within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • It is the nodal agency to deal with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing.
  • CERT-In has been designated under Section 70B of Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008 to serve as the national agency to perform the following functions in the area of cyber security:
  • Collection, analysis and dissemination of information on cyber incidents
  • Forecast and alerts of cyber security incidents
  • Emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents
  • Coordination of cyber incident response activities
  • Issue guidelines, advisories, vulnerability notes and whitepapers relating to information security practices, procedures, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents.

 

C) Economic Developments: India and World

  1. Public Financial Management System (PFMS) (PIB)
  • Context:PFMS Division of Office of Controller General of Accounts (CGA) under Ministry of Finance, organized a workshop on Public Finance Management System (PFMS) to generate awareness among the officials on the functioning and achievements of the system.

Analysis

  • The Public Financial Management System (PFMS) is a web-based online software application developed and implemented by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.
  • PFMS started during 2009 with the objective of tracking funds released under all Plan Schemes of Government of India, and real time reporting of expenditure at all levels of Programme
  • Subsequently, the scope was enlarged to cover direct payment to beneficiaries under all Schemes.
  • Gradually, it has been envisaged that digitization of accounts shall be achieved through PFMS and beginning with Pay & Accounts Offices payments, the O/o CGA did further value addition by bringing in more financial activities of the Government of India in the ambit of PFMS.
  • The outputs / deliverables for the various modes / functions of PFMS include (but are not limited to):
  • Payment & Exchequer Control
  • Accounting of Receipts (Tax & Non-Tax)
  • Compilation of Accounts and Preparation of Fiscal Reports
  • Integration with Financial Management Systems of States
  • The primary function of PFMS today is to facilitate sound Public Financial Management System for Government of India by establishing an efficient fund flow system as well as a payment cum accounting network.
  • PFMS provides various stakeholders with a real time, reliable and meaningful management information system and an effective decision support system, as part of the Digital India initiative of Government of India.
  • PFMS has established interface with the treasury systems of all the States and the Union Territories with Legislatures.
  • This facilitates exchange of data regarding budget, allocation and expenditure against the central transfer of funds for Centrally Sponsored Schemes of the Government of India.
  • As the backbone of the payment system of the Government of India, PFMS is integrated with the Core Banking system in the Country, and hence, has the unique capability to first validate the account before pushing online payments to almost every beneficiary/vendor.
  • Interface with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has also been developed that facilitates validation for Aadhaar-linked payments.
  • PFMS is also the channel for payment, accounting and reporting under Direct Benefit Transfer.
  • As such, every Department/Ministry of Government of India transfers funds electronically to beneficiary (individual or institution) through PFMS.
  • Further, State Governments and the Implementing Agencies transfer the cash components to beneficiaries through PFMS.
  • To facilitate the above, PFMS has interface with over fifty Beneficiary management applications/systems of different Ministries and Departments, such as PM-KISAN, NSAP, MNREGASoft, MCTS, AwasSoft and Kanyashree.

Mandate

  • The mandate given to PFMS by Cabinet decision is to provide:
  • A financial management platform for all plan schemes, a database of all recipient agencies, integration with core banking solution of banks handling plan funds, integration with State Treasuries and efficient and effective tracking of fund flow to the lowest level of implementation for plan scheme of the Government.
  • To provide information across all plan schemes/ implementation agencies in the country on fund utilization leading to better monitoring, review and decision support system to enhance public accountability in the implementation of plan schemes.
  • To result in effectiveness and economy in Public Finance Management through better cash management for Government transparency in public expenditure and real-time information on resource availability and utilization across schemes.

Enhanced Mandate of Ministry of Finance

  • Ministry of Finance, Dept. of Expenditure in 2014 directed CGA to proceed with Digitization of Govt. Accounts through PFMS.

 

  1. Post Devolution Revenue Deficit (PDRD) Grant (TH)
  • Context:The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance recently released the 10thmonthly installment of Post Devolution Revenue Deficit (PDRD) Grant for the year 2021-22 to 17 Statesas recommended by the 15th Finance Commission.

Analysis

  • The Centre provides the Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant to the States under Article 275 of the Constitution.
  • The grants are released as per the recommendations of the Finance Commission in twelvemonthly installments to meet the gap in Revenue Accounts of the States post devolution.
  • The 15thFinance Commission has recommended Post Devolution Release Deficit grants to 17 States. 
  • The States recommended for Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant are: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
  • The eligibility of States to receive this grant and the quantum of grant was decided by the Commission based on the gap between assessment of revenue and expenditure of the State.
  • Assessed devolution for the financial year 2021-22 was also taken into account by the Commission.

Finance Commission Grants & Other Transfers

  • The Finance Commission is a constitutional body set up by the President of India under Article 280 of the Constitution, every five years or earlier to decide the share of the Union government and state governments in the divisible pool of tax revenue.
  • The Finance Commission also decides the share of each state from the share of states in the divisible pool.
  • The Commission further recommends the share of funds and grants to be transferred to local bodies.
  • In the Union Budget, these transfers are called ‘Finance Commission Grants’ and ‘Other Transfers’.

Finance Commission Grants

  • The 73rd Constitutional Amendment requires both the Centre and states to help Panchayati Raj institutions to evolve as a unit of self-governance by assigning them funds, functions and functionaries.
  • The Finance Commission Grants, in the Union Budget, provides funds to local bodies, state disaster relief funds and compensates any revenue loss to states after devolution of taxes.

The Finance Commission Grants are primarily divided into four sub-heads.

  • Grants for rural local bodies: In fact, nearly half of the Finance Commission Grants in Union Budget goes to village local bodies.
  • Grants for urban local bodies:In addition to units of self-governance at the village level, the Constitution also envisages cities as units of self-governance.
  • Urban local bodies like municipal councils receive the largest chunk of Finance Commission Grants after Rural Local Bodies and Post Devolution Deficit Grants to states.
  • Assistance to SDRF: The assistance to state government’s disaster relief authorities by the central government is provided as per the recommendations of the Finance Commission.
  • Post devolution revenue deficit grants:About a third of the total revenue collected by the Centre is directly transferred to states as their share in the divisible pool.
  • However, the Finance Commission also provides a mechanism for compensation of any loss incurred by states, which is called post-devolution revenue deficit grants.
  • This Finance Commission Grant forms the second largest chunk of Finance Commission transfers after the assistance to local rural bodies.

Other transfers to states

  • In addition to the four main transfers under the Finance Commission Grants, the Centre also transfers a considerable sum to states and vulnerable groups from its own resources. This includes:
  • Assistance to states from NDRF (separate from the grants given to state SDRF under Finance Commission Grants)
  • Central pool of resources for north-eastern region and Sikkim
  • Externally aided project grants
  • Externally aided project loans
  • Schemes for north-east council
  • Schemes under Article 275 (1) of the Constitution
  • Special assistance under the demand: Transfers to states, special central assistance to scheduled castes and special central assistance to tribal area.

 

D) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  1. Asian Waterbird Census 2022(TH, pg 2)
  • Context:The Sanjay Lake in east Delhi has become polluted over the years and the number of birds sighted there has fallen, according to a census carried out by Wetlands International, a global non-profit organisation.
  • The census was part of WI’s Asian Waterbird Census (AWC), which is being carried out across Asia and Australia.

Analysis

  • Every January, thousands of volunteers across Asia and Australasia visit wetlands in their country and count waterbirds. This citizen science programme is called the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC).
  • Australasia is a region which comprises Australia, New Zealand, and some neighbouring islands.
  • The AWC is an integral part of the global waterbird monitoring programme, the International Waterbird Census (IWC), coordinated by Wetlands International.
  • It runs in parallel with other regional programmes of the International Waterbird Census in Africa, Europe, West Asia, the Neotropics and the Caribbean.
  • Neotropical region, also called South American region, one of the six major biogeographic areas of the world defined on the basis of its characteristic animal life. It extends south from the Mexican desert into South America as far as the subantarctic zone.
  • The census has the following objectives:
  • to obtain information on an annual basis of waterbird populations at wetlands in the region during the non-breeding period of most species (January), as a basis for evaluation of sites and monitoring of populations;
  • to monitor on an annual basis the status and condition of wetlands;
  • to encourage greater interest in waterbirds and wetlands amongst citizens.
  • Wetlands International is the only global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands.
  • 2020 was a special year for biodiversity as it marked the end of the landmark Aichi 2020 Biodiversity Targets, that governments around the world had agreed several years ago.

 

  1. Jog Falls (TH, pg 5)
  • Context:Karnataka Cabinet has decided for providing more facilities for tourists at the four scenic cataracts (waterfalls) known as Jog Falls or Gersoppa Falls, where water from river Sharavati takes a plunge from a height of 810 feet.

Analysis

  • Sharavati River rises in the Western Ghats, and flows for 60 miles (100 km) in a northwesterly direction to the Arabian Sea at Honavar.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi Hydroelectric Power Station and the Sharavati Valley Project, a short distance downstream (east) of the cataract, generate much of the electricity for Karnataka state.

 

E) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

  1. Hike in Expenditure Limit for Candidates(TH, pg 10)
  • Context:The Election Commission recently announced a hike in expenditure limit for candidates to Rs 95 lakh (up from Rs 70 lakh) for Lok Sabha elections, and Rs 40 lakh (up from Rs 28 lakh) for Assembly polls, on account of a substantial increase in the number of electors and Cost Inflation Index since 2014.

Analysis

  • For Assembly elections, the revised expenditure limit for candidates is Rs 40 lakh for big states, up from Rs 28 lakh.
  • Candidates in smaller states can spend a maximum Rs 28 lakh instead of the earlier limit of Rs 20 lakh.
  • Section 77 (3) The Representation of the People Act, 1951, reads, “The total of the said expenditure shall not exceed such amount as may be prescribed.”
  • If the actual expenditure of any of the elected persons exceeds the permissible limit, that election can be set aside.
  • These limits are specified separately for every state and Union territory and separately for Parliament and state Assemblies.
  • Since the power to amend the ‘rules’ rests with the Union government (and NOT with the ECI), all that the ECI does is to recommend to the Centre from time to time that the existing limit be increased to a higher amount that the ECI recommends.
  • The central government usually approves the recommendations of the ECI.
  • The ostensible purpose, though not explicitly stated, is that persons who have humongous amounts of money to spend on elections, do not end up cornering all the seats, and those who have less money do have a more or less equal chance of getting elected.
  • There is no limit on the expenditure that political parties can incur during elections!
  • The only ways to control expenditure on elections and to provide a ‘level-playing field’ to rich and poor candidates alike are to
  • (a) make political parties democratic in their internal functioning and
  • (b) make their finances transparent, by law.

Guidelines to work out expenditure of star campaigners

  • As per Section 77 of the Representation of Peoples Act 1951, the expenditure incurred by leaders of a political party on account of travel by air or by any other means shall not be deemed to be poll expenditure of a candidate.
  • A recognised political party could give a list of 40 persons and a registered but unrecognised party a list of 20 persons to the Chief Electoral Officer and the Election Commission of India within seven days of the notification of the elections, and such political leaders would be known as star campaigners.
  • In the event of a public rally or meeting, if the candidate or his/her election agent shares the dais with the star campaigner, then the entire expenditure on that rally, other than the travel expenses of the star campaigner, should be added to the candidate’s expenses.
  • If the candidate is not present on the dais but banners and posters with the name of the candidate or the photographs of the candidate are displayed at the venue or the name of the candidate mentioned by the star campaigner, then the entire expenditure on the rally, other than travel expenses of the star campaigner, would be added to the candidate’s election expenses.
  • If there is more than one candidate sharing the dais or displaying banners or posters with their names at the venue, then the expenses on such a rally should be equally divided among all such candidates.
  • If the candidate or any of his representative or family member or leader of a political party other than the notified star campaigner is sharing the transport facility with the star campaigner, then 50 per cent of the expenditure would be added to the candidate’s expenses.
  • If more than one candidate is sharing the facilities then 50 per cent of the travel expenditure should be apportioned among those candidates.
  • If a star campaigner of an allied party attends the rally and takes the name of the candidate or shares the dais with the candidate, then the travel expense of that campaigner of allied party up to the constituency is not exempt and should be added to the candidate’s expenses.

 

F) International Relations

  1. Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) (TH, pg 1)
  • Context: Under increasing pressure, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appealed overnight to the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), to combat what he called “terrorist groups” that had “received extensive training abroad”.
  • Long seen as one the most stable of the ex-Soviet republics of Central Asia, energy-rich Kazakhstan is facing its biggest crisis in decades after days of protests over rising fuel prices escalated into widespread unrest.

Analysis

Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)

  • It is a Russia-led military alliance of seven former Soviet states that was created in 2002.
  • The CSTO’s purpose is to ensure the collective defenceof any member that faces external aggression.
  • The Collective Security Treaty Organization originates from the conclusion of the Collective Security Treaty, which was signed in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in 1992 by the heads of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • It has been described by political scientists as the Eurasian counterpart of NATO, which has 30 member states(North Macedonia joined NATO in 2020),while the CSTO has just six.
  • Current CSTO members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan.
  • Uzbekistan again became a CSTO member in 2006 but then withdrew its membership in 2012.
  • Afghanistan and Serbia hold observer status in the CSTO.
  • The organization uses a rotating presidency system in which the state leading the CSTO changes every year.
  • Article 4 of the Treaty states “If one of the States Parties is subjected to aggression by any state or group of states, then this will be considered as aggression against all States Parties to this Treaty.
  • Beyond mutual defence, Members also use the organization to counter cyber warfare, narcotics trafficking, the illegal circulation of weapons, transnational crime, and terrorism. The Collective Security Council (CSC) is the highest body of the Organization and consists of heads of member states.
  • The CSTO Secretariat is in Moscow.

What Does CSTO Membership Provide?

  • While CSTO membership means that member states are barred from joining other military alliances, limiting, for example, their relationship with NATO, members receive discounts, subsidies, and other incentives to buy Russian arms, facilitating military cooperation.
  • Most importantly, membership presumes certain key security assurances – the most significant of which is deterring military aggression by third countries. In the CSTO, aggression against one signatory is perceived as aggression against all.
  • In particular, the organization has given Russia the power to block NATO operations in the region and provided a way for Russia to contain Chinese military influence in the region.

 

G) Clever Picks (Miscellaneous)

  1. Mission Jeewan Raksha (PIB)
  • Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel have saved hundreds of lives from the wheels of the running trains at railway stations in last four years under this mission.