9thFebruary,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 9thFebruary,2022

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

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint


  • Asian Clearing Union (ACU) (TH, pg 17)
  • Agriculture Orientation Index (AOI) and India (TH, pg 17)
  • EU joins chips race with €43-billion bid to rival Asia (TH, pg 13)
  • United Nations World Food Program(TH, pg 13)
  • Fishing in Troubled Waters: The Palk Strait Dispute (TH, pg 7)
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) (TH, pg 7)
  • Curative Petition (TH, pg 12)
  • Poshan Tracker (TH, pg 4)
  • Patriot Missile Defence System(TH, pg 13)
  • NITI Aayog, USAID to collaborate in healthcare (TH, pg 12)
  • Sri Lanka to launch its own ‘Aadhaar’(TH, pg 13)


  1. Asian Clearing Union (ACU) (TH, pg 17)

  • Context: In January 2022, deferring another $500 million due for settlement to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU).


What is the Asian Clearing Union (ACU)?

  • The Asian Clearing Union (ACU) was established with its head-quarters at Tehran, Iran, in 1974 at the initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP), for promoting regional co-operation.
  • The main objective of the clearing union is to facilitate payments among member countries for eligible transactions on a multilateral basis, thereby economizing on the use of foreign exchange reserves and transfer costs, as well as promoting trade among the participating countries.

Who are the members of the ACU?

  • The Central Banks and the Monetary Authorities of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are currently the members of the ACU.

What is the unit of settlement of ACU transactions?

  • The Asian Monetary Units (AMUs) is the common unit of account of ACU and is denominated as ‘ACU Dollar’, ‘ACU Euro’ and ‘ACU Yen’, which is equivalent in value to one US Dollar, one Euro and one Japanese Yen respectively.
  • All instruments of payments under ACU have to be denominated in AMUs.

Main Objectives

  • Asian Clearing Union (ACU) is a payment arrangement whereby the participants settle payments for intra-regional transactions among the participating central banks on a net multilateral basis.

The objectives of the ACU are:

  • (1) To provide a facility to settle payments, on a multilateral basis, for current international transactions among the territories of participants;
  • (2) To promote the use of participants’ currencies in current transactions between their respective territories and thereby effect economies in the use of the participants’ exchange reserves;
  • (3) To promote monetary co-operation among the participants and closer relations among the banking systems in their territories and thereby contribute to the expansion of trade and economic activity among the countries of the ESCAP region; and
  • (4) To provide for currency SWAP arrangement among the participants so as to make Asian Monetary Units (AMUs) available to them temporarily.


  1. Agriculture Orientation Index (AOI) and India (TH, pg 17)

  • Context: An article in the Hindu.


  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) report for 2001 to 2019 shows that, globally, India is among the top 10 countries in terms of government spending in agriculture, constituting a share of around 7.3% of its total government expenditure.
  • However, India lags behind several low-income countries such as Malawi (18%), Mali (12.4%), Bhutan (12%), Nepal (8%), as well as upper middle-income countries such as Guyana (10.3%) and China (9.6%).
  • The picture changes and rather looks disappointing when we look at the Agriculture Orientation Index (AOI) — an index which was developed as part of the Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015.
  • The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 emphasises an increase in investment in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, development of technology to enhance agricultural productivity and eradication of poverty in middle- and lower-income countries.
  • The AOI is calculated by dividing the agriculture share of government expenditure by the agriculture value added share of GDP. In other words, it measures the ratio between government spending towards the agricultural sector and the sector’s contribution to GDP.
  • India’s index is one of the lowest, reflecting that the spending towards the agricultural sector is not commensurate with the sector’s contribution towards GDP.

A comparison with Asia

  • India’s AOI is one of the lowest in Asia and among several other middle-income and upper-income countries.
  • Asia as a whole performs much better, with a relatively higher performance by Eastern Asian countries. China has been doing remarkably well with an index steadily improving and crossing one.
  • In China, even with an average land holding size of 0.6 hectares, which is much lower than India’s average land holding size, the performance of the sector in terms of crop yield is much higher than India.
  • Even with an overall increase in budgetary outlays, the allocation towards Market Intervention Scheme and Price Support Scheme (MIS-PSS) was 62% less than the previous allocation in revised estimates (RE) of FY 2021-22.

Other significant reductions

  • Similarly, the Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) experienced a significant reduction to only one crore as against the allocation of ₹400 crore in 2021-22.
  • Both schemes are pertinent to ensure MSP-based procurement operations in the country, especially for pulses and oil seeds.


  1. EU joins chips race with €43-billion bid to rival Asia (TH, pg 13)

  • Context:The EU has unveiled a plan (EU Chips Act) to quadruple the supply of semiconductors in Europe by 2030, hoping to limit the bloc’s dependence on Asia for a key component used in electric cars and smartphones.


  • The production of chips has become a strategic priority in Europe as well as the United States, after the shock of the pandemic choked off supply, bringing factories to a standstill and emptying stores of products.
  • The manufacturing of semiconductors overwhelmingly takes place in Taiwan, China and South Korea and the European Union wants factories and companies inside the bloc to take on a bigger role.
  • The highly anticipated EU Chips Act will “mobilise more than €43 billion ($49.1 billion) of public and private investments” and “enable the EU to reach its ambition to double its current market share to 20% in 2030”, the European Commission said.


  1. United Nations World Food Program (TH, pg 13)

  • Context:Drought conditions have left an estimated 13 million people facing severe hunger in the Horn of Africa, according to the United Nations World Food Program.
  • People in a region including Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya face the driest conditions recorded since 1981, calling for immediate assistance to forestall a major humanitarian crisis.


  • The World Food Programme is the UN agency focused on hunger alleviation and food security.
  • It is the leading humanitarian organization saving lives and changing lives, delivering food assistance in emergencies (from wars to civil conflicts, natural disasters and famines) and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
  • WFP’s efforts focus on emergency assistancerelief and rehabilitationdevelopment aidand special operations.
  • The WFPis the world’s largest humanitarian organisation committed towards its global goal of ending hunger by the year 2030.
  • The Rome-based organisation, WFP, works closely with the other two Rome-based UN agencies: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which helps countries draw up policy and change legislation to support sustainable agriculture, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which finances projects in poor rural areas.
  • In 2015, eradication of world hunger became one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and WFP is the UN’s primary instrument in achieving that goal.
  • Other UN agencies that work towards providing food security include the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
  • WFP runs entirely on public donationswhich include governments, corporations and individuals.

How does WFP help people?

  • WFP provides food assistance in two ways, either by way of providing food or by meeting people’s food-needs by providing cash-based transfers.

Does WFP work in India?

  • WFP has been working in India since 1963, with work transitioning from food distribution to technical assistance since the country achieved self-sufficiency in cereal production.
  • With the Government now providing its own food distribution systems, WFP work focuses on supporting the strengthening of these systems to ensure they become more efficient and reach the people who need the most.
  • One-fourth of the world’s undernourished population is in India and about 21 percent of the population live on less than $1.90 a day.
  • At the moment, WFP is working to improve the government’s targeted public distribution system (TPDS) to ensure that food reaches those that need it the most.
  • It is also working with the government to improve the nutritional value of the Midday Meal programme and is using its own software called the Vulnerability and Analysis Mapping to identify the most food insecure groups in the country.
  • Recently, WFP has partnered with the government of Uttar Pradesh to set up over 200 supplementary nutrition production units to support distribution under the government’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme that provides nutrition services to children below the age of six.
  • Recently, the United Nations World Food Programme India and IIT-Delhi announced that they will collaborate to combine forces to develop solutions for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the government’s food safety nets through operations research.

Do you know?

  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2020 was awarded to the United Nation’s (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) for its efforts to combat hunger and for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for preventing the use of hunger being weaponised in war and conflict.

World Food Prize

  • The World Food Prizewas established by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug in 1986.
  • The World Food Prize is considered equivalent to the Nobel Prize in the field of agriculture, and is awarded for improving the quality and availability of food.
  • The first recipient of this award was Indian agricultural scientist Dr M.S. Swaminathan in 1987, regarded as the father of India’s Green Revolution.


  1. Fishing in Troubled Waters: The Palk Strait Dispute (TH, pg 7)

  • Context:Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to secure the release of 29 fishermen and their 79 fishing boats from Sri Lanka.
  • In the latest instance of high-handedness, the Sri Lankan Navy has arrested 11 Indian fishermen and were taken to Mayilatti Naval Base, Sri Lanka.


  • Notwithstanding the 1974 Indo-Lanka Maritime Boundary Agreement, Indian fishermen tend to cross the maritime border into Sri Lanka in the Palk Strait, which in turn leads to assaults by the Sri Lankan Navy.
  • Through the agreement, the Katchatheevu Island was ceded to Sri Lanka by the Indian government.
  • It was in the mid-1970s that two agreements were signed by India and Sri Lanka, under which the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) came into being.
  • The IMBL made Katchatheevu a part of Sri Lanka, even though the isletwas once an area under the zamindari of the Raja of Ramanathapuram.

Why do Indian fishermen cross the maritime border despite the obvious risks?

  • Despite the agreements, there is no well-defined maritime boundary between the two countries, leading to Indian fishermen trespassing into Sri Lankan waters in search of a better catch.
  • Between 1983 and 2009, Indian fishermen had easier access to the rich Sri Lankan waters as the maritime boundary in the Palk Strait was not heavily guarded.
  • Since 2009, the Sri Lankan navy has tightened surveillance of its northern maritime boundary to halt a potential return of Tamil insurgents.
  • This, in turn, has had the secondary effect of increasing the number of arrests of Indian fishermen.


  1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) (TH, pg 7)

  • Context:The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development has pulled up the government after the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme received a Budget allocation 25% lower than the previous year’s revised estimates.
  • The Committee also recommended a hike in wage rates and in the number of days of guaranteed work, and a revision of the 60:40 wage-material ratio under the scheme.


Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

  • MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage.
  • An additional 50 days of wage employment are provided over and above 100 days in the notified drought affected areas or natural calamity areas in the country on recommendation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  • The Ministry also mandates the provision of additional 50 days of wage employment to every Scheduled Tribe Household in a forest area, provided that these households have no other private property except for the land rights provided under the FRA Act, 2006.
  • The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments
  • This act was introduced with an aim of improving the purchasing power of the rural people, primarily semi or un-skilled work to people living below poverty line in rural India.
  • Roughly one-third of the stipulated work force must be women.
  • The Gram Panchayat registers households after making enquiry and issues a job card.
  • The employment will be provided within a radius of 5 km: if it is above 5 km extra wage will be paid.
  • Individual beneficiary-oriented works can be taken up on the cards of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, small or marginal farmers or beneficiaries of land reforms or beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.
  • Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
  • Right to get unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
  • Receipt of wages within fifteen days of work done.
  • It is a demand driven programme.
  • The demand for work is influenced by various factors such as rain-fall, availability of alternative and remunerative employment opportunities outside MGNREGS.
  • Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory.
  • MGNREGA works address the climate change vulnerability and protect the farmers from such risks and conserve natural resources.
  • It is the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat which approves the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.
  • In 2014, the amendment to MGNREGA was done which mandates that at least 60% expenditure will be on agriculture and allied activities.
  • The ratio of expenditure on unskilled wage labour to overall expenditure is 60:40. Earlier it was mandated at Gram Panchayat level but now it is mandated at the district level.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Ministry of Rural Development and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space for geo-tagging of the assets created under MGNREGS in each Gram Panchayat.Under MGNREGS, every asset is mandatorily geotagged.
  • The Ministry has taken up skill development of the MGNREGA workers through initiatives like Bare Foot Technicians and Project LIFE (Livelihood In Full Employment) in order to move them up the skilling ladder.

Recent Changes

  • Staring at a slump in rural demand and a slowdown in the rural economy, the Centre plans to inject more money into the UPA’s flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme by linking wages under the Act to an updated inflation index, which will be revised annually.
  • At present, the Consumer Price Index for agricultural labourers (CPI-AL) determines MGNREGA wage revisions.
  • Food items make up more than two-thirds of the CPI-AL consumption basket, but rural workers today spend a much smaller percentage of their money on subsidised food, and an increasingly larger amount on health, education and transport costs.

Central Employment Guarantee Council

  • A Central Employment Guarantee Council (or ‘Central Council’) has been set up under the chairmanship of the Minister of Rural development.
  • It is mandatory to be constitute ‘Central Council’ under Section 10 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (Mahatma Gandhi NREGA), 2005.
  • The Central Council is responsible for advising the Central Government on Mahatma Gandhi NREGA-related matters, and for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Act.
  • It also prepares Annual Reports on the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA for submission to Parliament.

Do you know?

  • MGNREGA’s performance is possibly the most important determinant for the health of the informal economy, which accounts for anywhere between 80% to 90% of all employment in India.
  • It was expected that if the Indian economy is booming and creating new jobs, one should expect less demand for jobs under the MGNREGA. Conversely, if the economy is struggling, MGNREGA would see exalted levels of activity.


  1. Curative Petition (TH, pg 12)

  • Context:The Supreme Court has disposed of a curative petition concerning the row between Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd. (GUVNL), the State’s power utility, and Adani Group’s power company after noting that both parties had reached an amicable out-of-court settlement and their relationship would be governed by the terms of the compromise.


  • The curative petition is fairly a new concept in the Indian legal system.
  • A party can take only two limited grounds in a curative petition — one, that he was not heard by the court before the adverse judgment was passed, and two, the judge was biased. OR
  • A curative petition, which follows the dismissal of a review petition, is normally allowed only on the limited grounds of violation of principles of natural justice and circumstances suggesting possible bias on the part of judges.
  • It is the last judicial resort available for redressal of grievances in court which is normally decided by judges in-chamber.
  • It is only in rare cases that such petitions are given an open-court/oral hearing.
  • The concept of curative petition was first evolved by the Supreme Court of India in the matter of Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra and Anr. (2002) where the question was whether an aggrieved person is entitled to any relief against the final judgement/order of the Supreme Court, after dismissal of a review petition.


  1. Poshan Tracker (TH, pg 4)

  • Rising inflation, increased workload due to COVID-19 and a close monitoring of their daily activities through a tool called Poshan Tracker has forced the workers at anganwadis or child care centres in Delhi to once again go on an indefinite strike.
  • They have demanded that the government recognise them as its employees and pay them at least minimum wages.
  • Since 2017, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has rolled out a mobile application called Poshan Tracker to record delivery of different anganwadi services and growth and nutrition indicators of the beneficiaries. But workers feel it is more of a tool to snoop on them.
  1. Patriot Missile Defence System (TH, pg 13)

  • The United States has approved a possible $100 million sale of equipment and services to Taiwan to “sustain, maintain, and improve” the Patriot missile defence system used by the self-ruled island claimed by China.
  1. NITI Aayog, USAID to collaborate in healthcare (TH, pg 12)

  • The Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, and the U.S. Agency for International Development announced a new partnership under the Sustainable Access to Markets and Resources for Innovative Delivery of Healthcare initiative, which aims to improve access to affordable and quality healthcare for vulnerable populations in cities, rural and tribal regions.
  1. Sri Lanka to launch its own ‘Aadhaar’(TH, pg 13)

  • India has agreed to provide a grant to Sri Lanka to implement a ‘Unitary Digital Identity framework’, apparently modelled on the Aadhaar card.

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