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Daily Current affairs 17 August 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

PIB- Facts for prelims:

Navroz festival: 

  • It is a Parsi New Year festival celebrated to mark the beginning of the new Iranian calendar.
  • While the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle Easterns celebrate the festival on March 21the first day of the Zoroastrian calendar, in India there is another version of the festival that is followed according to the Shahanshahi calendar and falls during the later months of the year. The dates change every year since the calendar doesn’t account for leap years.
  • Also known as Pateti, Navroz will be celebrated on August 17th this year in India.
  • Navroz is also known as Jamshed-i-Navroz after the Persian King, Jamshed, who is credited to have created the Persian Calendar known as the Shahenshahi Calendar.
  • The time of the festival is decided in Iran and then it is passed on to the entire Zoroastrian population in the world.

 

Aadi Mahotsav:

 

  • It is a joint initiative of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India & Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED).
  • The theme of the festival is : “A celebration of the spirit of Tribal Craft, Culture and Commerce”. TRIFED essentially is to play the role of a ‘Service provider’ & ‘Market Developer.’
  • The Mahotsav will comprise of display and sale of items of tribal art and craft, tribal medicine & healers, tribal cuisine and display of tribal folk performance, in which tribal artisans, chefs, folk dancers/musicians from 23 States of the country shall participate and provide glimpse of their rich traditional culture.
  • Significance of the event: As the name of this event Aadi Mahotsav suggests, it is it’s ‘Adi’ factor that is important about them. The Adivasi way of life is guided by primal truths, eternal values and a natural simplicity. The greatness of the tribes lies in this that they have managed to retain the primal skills and natural simplicity. This quality gives their arts and crafts a timeless appeal. The crudest tribal handicraft instantly touches a primal instinct in all of us. This is particularly true in tribal music and dance.

Know India Programme:

 

What is it? Know India Programme is a flagship programme of Ministry of External Affairs for engagement with Indian origin youth (between 18-30 years) to enhance their awareness about India, its cultural heritage, art and to familiarise them with various aspects of contemporary India.

Eligibility: Minimum qualification required for participating in KIP is graduation from a recognized University /Institute or enrolled for graduation and ability to speak in English. The applicant should not have visited India through any previous Programme of Government of India. Those who have not visited India before will be given preference.


Four New Products get GI Tag:

 

The Geographical Indication (GI) under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade has registered 4 new GIs. 

They are:

  • PalaniPanchamirtham from Palani Town in Dindigul District of Tamil Nadu State.
  • Tawlhlohpuan and Mizo Puanchei from the state of Mizoram.
  • Tirur Betel leaf from Kerala.

Shyamoli:

What is it? It is the heritage house of Rabindranath Tagore. It was recently inaugurated.

Shyamoli is an experimental mud-house built at Santiniketan in 1935. The house has been recently renovated by the Archaeological Survey of India as a deposit work and is a property of Visva-Bharati at present.

 


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

 

Transgender Rights Bill

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Definitions included and key features of the bill.

For Mains: Significance of the bill, criticisms and the need for a comprehensive review.

 

Context: The community is unhappy with the transgender Bill passed in Lok Sabha earlier this month.

 

Need for legislation:

Transgender community is among one of the most marginalized communities in the country because they don’t fit into the stereotypical categories of gender of ‘men’ or ‘women’.

Consequently, they face problems ranging from social exclusion to discrimination, lack of education facilities, unemployment, lack of medical facilities and so on. The Bill shall empower the transgender community socially, educationally and economically. 

New definition:

According to the new definition, a transgender person is somebody “whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani, and jogta”.

 

Highlights of the Bill:

  • Aim: The Bill aims to stop discrimination against a transgender person in various sectors such as education, employment, and healthcare.
  • It directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes for them.
  • The Bill states that a person will be recognised as transgender on the basis of a certificate of identity issued through the district screening committee. This certificate will be a proof of identity as transgender and confer rights under this Bill.
  • Going by the bill, a person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.
  • It also requires transgender persons to go through a district magistrate and “district screening committee” to get certified as a transperson.
  • Composition of the committee: The committee would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person.

 

Criticisms:

  • The Bill is silent on granting reservations to transgender persons.
  • The bill has prescribed punishments for organised begging. However, the Bill doesn’t provide anything to better to condition in those areas, it doesn’t provide for reservation.
  • The Bill does not mention any punishments for rape or sexual assault of transgender persons as according to Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, rape is only when a man forcefully enters a woman.
  • The legislation has been criticised by the transgender community for replacing district screening committees with bureaucratic impediments
  • They have also highlighted that the provisions against discrimination have no enforceability.
  • The Bill has also attracted disapproval for only providing separate definitions for intersex personsbut no provisions for transgenders.

 

Need of the hour:

The Bill must recognise that gender identity must go beyond biological; gender identity is an individual’s deep and personal experience. It need not correspond to the sex assigned at birth. It includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions such as one’s own personal inducing proceeds.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  2. Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

 

Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation or KALIA Scheme

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features and significance of the scheme.

For Mains: Why such schemes are good compared to loan waivers?

 

Context: The Odisha government’s much-hyped Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme has gone haywire. The authorities are now facing a gigantic task of removing bogus beneficiaries who have already availed of the benefits.

 

Issues:

  1. A total of 51 lakh cultivators, loanee and non-loanee farmers, sharecroppers and landless agricultural labourers have been provided with financial assistance under the scheme so far.
  2. The authorities have now found out that all beneficiaries were not entitled to the benefits under the scheme and have asked the ineligible people to refund the money.
  3. More than one member of a family have managed to get assistance.
  4. In a majority of blocks, the number of applicants have outnumbered the number of ration card-holding families.

 

Key features of Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation or KALIA Scheme:

  1. Involves payments to encourage cultivation and associated activities.
  2. Primary targetsare small farmers, cultivators and landless agricultural labourers.
  3. All farmers will be provided Rs 10,000 per family as assistance for cultivation.
  4. Each family will get Rs 5,000 separately in the kharif and rabi seasons, for five cropping seasons between 2018-19 and 2021-22.
  5. Targets 10 lakh landless households, and specifically SC and ST families. They will be supported with a unit cost of Rs 12,500 for activities like goat rearing, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, poultry farming and fishery.
  6. Exception: A critical trade, dairy production, has deliberately been kept out because keeping a cow is more expensive, while milk production needs to have a collection route or agency that processes and refines this low shelf-life product.
  7. It will assist the elderly, sick and differently-abled populationwho are unable to take up cultivation, by providing Rs 10,000 per household per year.
  8. The scheme includes a life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh and additional personal accident coverageof the same amount for 57 lakh households.
  9. Crop loans up to Rs 50,000 are interest-free.
  10. This is also going to be an area-specific schemein the sense that an input support for a particular trade, say mushroom cultivation, will be provided if it is prevalent throughout that locality so that there is aggregation of produce.

 

How different will KALIA be from a loan waiver?

  1. Unlike a loan waiver, (through which) banks appease a few farmers, KALIA’s main targets are rural activities as a whole.
  2. It will support farming on a small scale, sharecropping, fishing, animal herding, which are not covered under bank loans, but are caught in debt traps set up by local moneylenders.
  3. Also, a farm loan waiver will reduce credit available to farmers in the long term, while income support can be used to make a repayment or at least activate a bank account which can then receive a loan.”

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 1 and 3:

Topics Covered:

Indian culture – salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Char Dham pilgrimage

 

What to study?

For prelims: About Char Dham project and its geographical location.

For mains: Significance of the project, environmental concerns, NGT and Supreme Court’s views.

 

Context: Supreme Court has cleared decks for Chardham highway project, which will connect four holy places of Uttarakhand through 900 km all-weather roads.

 

What has the court said?

The court has directed Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to form high-powered committee by 22 August 2019 so as to look into environmental concerns.

  • Representatives from Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Physical Research Laboratory under government’s space department and Ministry of Defence will be part of the new high powered committee.
  • As per SC, committee shall hold quarterly meetings thereafter to ensure compliance and may suggest any further measure after each review meeting.
  • It shall consider cumulative and independent impact of Chardham project on entire Himalayan valleys.
  • Committee will also suggest areas in which afforestation should be taken and kind of saplings to be planted.

 

What’s the issue?

The proposed four-lane expressway to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Bardinath in the hill state has been among the flagship projects of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

But the idea of the 900-kilometre road network in the sensitive mountains of Uttarakhand drew scepticism from environmental activists who fear the highways and the tourists they would bring in will be at the cost of the ecological balance.

 

About Chardham project:

  • The project involves developing and widening 900-km of national highways connecting the holy Hindu pilgrimage sites of; Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri at an estimated cost of Rs.12,000 crores.
  • The highway will be called Char Dham Mahamarg(Char Dham Highway) and the highway construction project will be called as Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana(Char Dham Highway Development Project).
  • The roads will be widened from 12m to 24m and the project will involve construction of tunnels, bypasses, bridges, subways and viaducts.

Sources: the hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

India’s NFU Policy

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key facts on India’s nuclear capability.

For Mains: NFU- need, concerns and why have it?

 

Context: The Defence Minister of India Rajnath Singh has given major hints about a possible review of the policy of ‘no first use‘ of nuclear weapons and said it will depend on circumstances in future.

 

India’s NFU:

In 1998, India conducted nuclear tests under Pokhran-II and in 2003, it declared its nuclear doctrine based on credible minimum deterrence and a NFU policy while reserving the right of massive retaliation if struck with nuclear weapons first.

 

What is no first use nuclear doctrine?

It refers to a pledge or a policy by a nuclear power not to use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by an adversary using nuclear weapons. Earlier, the concept had also been applied to chemical and biological warfare.

India first adopted a “No first use” policy after its second nuclear tests, Pokhran-II, in 1998. In August 1999, the Indian government released a draft of the doctrine which asserts that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of “retaliation only”.

The document also maintains that India “will not be the first to initiate a nuclear first strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail” and that decisions to authorise the use of nuclear weapons would be made by the Prime Minister or his ‘designated successor(s)’.

 

Why India should retain this policy?

  1. Adopting a no-first use policy enables New Delhi to keep the nuclear threshold high, especially as Pakistan tries to lower the threshold by developing tactical nuclear weapons, the Hatf-9 with 60km range.
  2. It must also be noted that New Delhi is not bordered by just one nuclear weapon state. China adopts a no-first use policy and, in spite of calls for Beijing to revise its no-first use doctrine, it is unlikely to do so. Hence, if New Delhi gave up its no-first use doctrine, it could give Beijing a chance to adopt a first strike policy and shift blame on India.
  3. In fact, India’s adoption of a first strike policy would be an easy excuse for Beijing to give up its no-first use doctrine against the United States and Russia as well.
  4. Moreover, India has always promoted herself as a responsible nuclear weapon state. Hence, a first strike policy would severely damage India’s reputation as a responsible nuclear weapon state.
  5. Also, it is India’s no first use doctrine that has enabled both Pakistan and India to keep their nuclear arsenal in a de-mated posture rather than a ready deterrent posture. This means nuclear warheads are not mated with the delivery systems. This reduces the chances of nuclear terrorism in Pakistan and also reduces the likelihood of an accidental launch of a nuclear weapon. A first strike policy by India may not have allowed Pakistan to keep their nuclear arsenal in a de-mated posture.
  6. A first-strike policy, coupled with a ballistic missile defense system, could provoke Pakistan to launch a nuclear pre-emptive strike against India.
  7. By adopting a no-first use doctrine, New Delhi has also made it evident that nuclear weapons are indeed the weapons of last resort. Abandoning this doctrine would make it evident that India considers the option of using nuclear weapons in the initial phases of the conflict.

 

Sources: the hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

Issues related to health.

 

National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL)

 

What to study?

For NEDL- what is it, need for and significance.

 

Context: India has got its first National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) finalised by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

 

Key facts:

Aim: NEDL aims to bridge the current regulatory system’s gap that does not cover all the medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic device (IVD).

Significance: With this, India has become the first country to compile such a list that would provide guidance to the government for deciding the kind of diagnostic tests that different healthcare facilities in villages and remote areas require.

Uses: The list is meant for facilities from village till the district level.

NEDL builds upon the Free Diagnostics Service Initiative and other diagnostics initiatives of the Health Ministry to provide an expanded basket of tests at different levels of the public health system.

 

Need for NEDL:

  1. Diagnostics serve a key role in improving health and quality of life.
  2. While affordability of diagnostics is a prime concern in low, middle-income countries like India, low cost, inaccurate diagnostics have made their way into the Indian market which has no place in the quality health care system.
  3. The implementation of NEDL would enable improved health care services delivery through evidence-based care, improved patient outcomes and reduction in out-of-pocket expenditure; effective utilisation of public health facilities.
  4. It would help in effective assessment of disease burden, disease trends, surveillance, and outbreak identification; and address antimicrobial resistance crisis too.

 

Background:

In India, diagnostics (medical devices and in vitro diagnostics) follow a regulatory framework based on the drug regulations under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

What is an inverted yield curve?

Why in news? A factor particularly spooking the markets in recent days has been the “inversion of the yield curve” in the United States.

What is it?

The yield curve is a graph showing the relationship between interest rates earned on lending money for different durations.

Normally, someone who lent to the government or a corporation for one year (by buying a one-year government or corporate bond) would expect to get a lower interest rate than someone who lent for five or ten years, making the yield curve upward-sloping.

In the US in recent days the ten-year bond rate has fallen to the point at which the ten-year rate is below the two-year rate – so the yield curve is inverted.

 

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