Current Affairs Analysis

27th August 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Pulikkali; NDC–Transport Initiative for Asia; Draft Health Data Management Policy; National Digital Health Mission; Minimum age of Marriage in India; Age of marriage and health; Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2020; RBI Annual Report 2019-20; RBI Contingency Fund; Currency and Gold Revaluation Account (CGRA); Investment Revaluation Account Foreign Securities (IRA-FS); Investment Revaluation Account-Rupee Securities (IRA-RS); Sin tax; National Clean Air Programme (NCAP); Right to clean air; INS Viraat; New circles of ASI; Archaeological Survey of India; Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar-2021; Tribal dances of Tamil Nadu and J&K;etc.
By IASToppers
August 27, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • India Component of NDC–Transport Initiative for Asia

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Draft Health Data Management Policy

Social Issues

  • How marriage age and women’s health are linked?

Economy

  • Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2020
  • RBI Annual Report 2019-20
  • Why RBI sent Rs 73,615 crore to its Contingency Fund?
  • Two-wheelers neither luxury nor sin goods: FM

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • NGT slams Ministry’s report on clean air programme

Defence & Security Issues

  • INS Viraat to head for dismantling

Art & Culture

  • New circles of ASI
  • Pulikkali to go online this Onam

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar-2021
  • Tribal dances of Tamil Nadu and J&K

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Government Schemes & Policies

India Component of NDC–Transport Initiative for Asia

NITI Aayog virtually launched the India Component of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)–Transport Initiative for Asia (TIA) on 27 August, 2020.

Aim:

  • To promote a comprehensive approach to decarbonize transport in India, Vietnam, and China.

NDC-TIA programme:

  • The NDC–TIA is a joint programme, supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
  • NITI Aayog, the premier policy think tank, will be the implementing partner on behalf of the Government of India.
  • The NDC-TIA programme has a duration of 4 years.
  • It will allow India and other partner countries to achieve accountable long-term targets.
  • This will be done by making a sectoral contribution through various interventions, coordinated with a large number of stakeholders.
  • It will contribute towards achieving their NDCs and increasing their ambition in the transport sector of 2025 NDCs.

Focus:

The NDC–TIA India Component will focus on:

  • Establishing a multi-stakeholder dialogue platform for decarbonizing transport in India.
  • Strengthening GHG and transport modelling capacities.
  • Providing technical support on GHG emission reduction measures.
  • Financing climate actions in transport.
  • Offering policy recommendations on electric vehicle (EV) demand and supply policies.
  • Evaluating business models through cost-benefit analyses and so forth.

Need:

  • India has the world’s second-largest road network, which contributes to maximum greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through all means of transportation.
  • With increasing urbanisation, the number of vehicles will be doubled by 2030.

Significance:

  • Inform transport, energy, and climate stakeholders in India about planned project activities for the upcoming year.
  • Offer the opportunity to provide input about India’s transport challenges and how they relate to CO2 reduction ambitions.
  • Focus the programme further on India’s specific needs and circumstances.
[Ref: PIB]

Issues related to Health & Education

Draft Health Data Management Policy

The National Health Authority has released the Draft Health Data Management Policy of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) in the public domain.

  • The draft has been released on the website of the NDHM and will be available for public comments and feedback till September 3, 2020.

Objective:

  • To provide adequate guidance and set out a framework for secure processing of personal and sensitive personal data of individuals, part of the National Digital Health ecosystem.

National Digital Health Mission:

  • The NDHM is a complete digital health ecosystem with personal health IDs for every Indian and digitisation of health records.
  • The digital platform will be launched with four key features – Health ID, Personal health records, Digi Doctor and Health facility registry.
  • The National Health Authority– the central agency responsible for the implementation of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana has been mandated to design and roll out NDHM.

Highlights of the Draft:

  • Data collected across National Digital Health Ecosystem (NDHE) will be stored at the central level, the state or Union Territory level and at the health facility level, by adopting principle of minimality at each point.
  • It necessitates the development of a framework to safeguard the privacy of confidential health data that has been collected from individuals in India.
  • The provisions of this policy shall apply to entities and individuals who have been issued an ID under this policy, healthcare professionals, governing bodies of health ministry, NHA, relevant professional bodies and regulators.
  • It would also apply to any healthcare provider who collects, stores and transmits health data in electronic form, insurers, charitable institutions, pharmaceuticals and all individuals, teams, entities who collect or process personal or sensitive data of any individual as part of the NDHE.

To know about ‘National Digital Health Mission’ in detail, kindly refer the link given below:

 [Ref: The Hindu; Economic Times]

Social Issues

How marriage age and women’s health are linked?

Union Government has constituted a committee to ensure that the women are married off at the right age.

  • Reports suggest the minimum age of marriage for girls may be raised from 18 at present to 21.

Minimum age of Marriage in India:

  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 prescribe that the minimum age of marriage is 21 years for men and 18 years for women.
  • The minimum age of marriage is distinct from the age of majority which is gender-neutral.
  • An individual attains the age of majority at 18 as per the Indian Majority Act, 1875.

Prevalence of underage marriage:

  • Majority of women in India marry after the age of 21.
  • The mean age of women at marriage is 22.1 years, and more than 21 in all states.
  • As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) about 26.8% of women aged 20-24 were married before adulthood (age 18).

Age of marriage and health:

  • Preventing early marriage can reduce the maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality ratio.
  • The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths for every 100,000 children born) is 145 at present.
  • India’s infant mortality ratio shows that 30 of every 1,000 children born in a year die before the age of one.
  • Both these indicators in India are the highest among the BRICS economies.
  • Young mothers are more susceptible to anaemia and more than half the women of reproductive age (15-49 years) in India are anaemic.

Data:

  • Women in the poorest 20% of the population married much younger than their peers from the wealthiest 20%.
  • The average age at marriage of women with no schooling was 17.6, considerably lower than that for women educated beyond class 12.
  • As per a report of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, almost 40% of girls aged 15-18 do not attend school.
  • Nearly 65% of these girls are engaged in non-remunerative work.

Concerns:

  • The known reasons for early marriage are poverty, limited access to education and economic prospects, and security concerns.
  • If the main causes of early marriage are not addressed, a law will not be enough to delay marriage among girls.

To know more about the ‘issues around Early marriage of Women’, refer to the link given below:

[Ref: Indian Express]

Economy

Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2020

NITI Aayog in partnership with the Institute of Competitiveness has released the Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2020.

  • It is the first report to examine export preparedness and performance of Indian states.

Aim:

  • To identify challenges and opportunities.
  • To enhance the effectiveness of government policies.
  • To encourage a facilitative regulatory framework.

Pillars:

  1. Policy: A comprehensive trade policy provides a strategic direction for exports and imports.
  2. Business Ecosystem:  An efficient business ecosystem can help states attract investments and create an enabling infrastructure for individuals to initiate start-ups.
  3. Export Ecosystem: To assess the business environment, which is specific to exports.
  4. Export Performance:  Only output-based pillar and examines the reach of export footprints of States and Union Territories.

Sub-pillars:

  • Export Promotion Policy; Institutional Framework; Business Environment; Infrastructure; Transport Connectivity; Access to Finance; Export Infrastructure; Trade Support; R&D Infrastructure; Export Diversification; and Growth Orientation.

Export Preparedness Index:

  • The EPI is a data-driven effort to identify the core areas crucial for export promotion at the sub-national level.
  • All the states and UTS have been assessed on crucial parameters that are critical for any typical economic unit to achieve sustainable export growth.
  • Based on the report, export promotion in India faces three fundamental challenges:
    • intra- and inter-regional disparities in export infrastructure; poor trade support and growth orientation among states; and poor R&D infrastructure to promote complex and unique exports.

Exports Rankings of states:

Key Strategies:

There is need to emphasize on key strategies to address these challenges:

  • A joint development of export infrastructure.
  • Strengthening industry-academia linkages.
  • Creating state-level engagements for economic diplomacy.

Significance:

  • Indian economy holds immense potential to become a strong exporter on the world stage.
  • To realize this, it is crucial that India turns to its states and UTs and make them active participants in the country’s export efforts.
  • The Export Preparedness Index 2020 evaluates states’ potentials and capacities.
  • The detailed insights from this Index will guide all stakeholders towards strengthening the export ecosystem at both the National and sub-national levels.
[Ref: PIB; EPI]

RBI Annual Report 2019-20

Reserve Bank of India has released its Annual Report 2019-20 recently.

Major Highlights:

1. Corporate tax rate:

  • The sharp cut in corporate tax rate announced by government in September 2019, did not help in restarting investment cycle, but used by companies to reduce debt and build up cash balances.

2. Weakness in investment:

  • There is weakness in investment demand and capital expenditure in the economy, and a need for a government-led investment revival.

3. Bank frauds:

  • Frauds reported by banks of ₹100,000 and above have more than doubled in value to ₹1.85 trillion in FY20.
  • Public sector banks accounted for 80% of the ₹1.85 trillion reported as frauds in FY20, followed by private sector banks at 18%.
  • Weak implementation of early warning signals (EWS) by banks, non-detection of EWS during internal audits, non-cooperation of borrowers during forensic audits, inconclusive audit reports and lack of decision making in joint lenders’ meetings account for delay in detection of frauds.\

4. Consumer confidence:

  • Consumer confidence fell to an all-time low, with a majority of respondents reporting pessimism relating to the general economic situation, employment, inflation and income.

5. Consumption:

  • Urban consumption demand has suffered a bigger blow – passenger vehicle sales and supply of consumer durables in Q1 of 2020-21 have dropped.
  • Rural demand, by contrast, has fared better.

Recommendations by RBI:

  • Targeted public investment funded by monetisation of assets in steel, coal, power, land, railways.
  • Privatisation of major ports by central and state governments under an independent regulator to revive and crowd in private investment.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council type of apex authorities can be set up in respect of land, labour and power to drive structural reforms and speedier implementation of infra projects.
[Ref: Indian Express; Live Mint]

Why RBI sent Rs 73,615 crore to its Contingency Fund?

The Reserve Bank of India has retained Rs 73,615 crore within the RBI by transferring it to the Contingency Fund (CF) of the Central bank.

  • This has led to a sharp fall in the transfer of surplus to the government in the current year.

What is the Contingency Fund (CF)?

  • This is a specific provision meant for meeting unexpected and unforeseen contingencies.
  • It includes depreciation in the value of securities, risks arising out of monetary/exchange rate policy operations, systemic risks and any risk arising on account of special responsibilities upon the Reserve Bank.
  • This amount is retained within the RBI.
  • With a higher provision of Rs 73,615 crore towards CF, the balance in CF as of June 2020 was Rs 264,034 crore as compared to Rs 196,344 crore in June 2019.

What did the government get as surplus this year?

  • The govt. got Rs 57,128 crore as surplus or dividend by the Central government for the accounting year 2019-20.
  • As per Section 47 of the RBI Act, profits or surplus of the RBI are to be transferred to the government, after making various contingency provisions, public policy mandate of the RBI, including financial stability considerations.

Currency and Gold Revaluation Account (CGRA):

  • The Currency and Gold Revaluation Account (CGRA) is maintained by the Reserve Bank.
  • It takes care of currency risk, interest rate risk and movement in gold prices.
  • Unrealised gains or losses on valuation of foreign currency assets (FCA) and gold are not taken to the income account but instead accounted for in the CGRA.
  • Net balance in CGRA varies with the size of the asset base, its valuation and movement in the exchange rate and price of gold.
  • CGRA provides a buffer against exchange rate/ gold price fluctuations.
  • It can come under pressure if there is an appreciation of the rupee with respect to major currencies or a fall in the price of gold.
  • When CGRA is not sufficient to fully meet exchange losses, it is replenished from the CF.

What are IRA-FS and IRA-RS accounts?

  • The unrealised gains or losses on revaluation in foreign dated securities are recorded in the Investment Revaluation Account Foreign Securities (IRA-FS).
  • The unrealised gains or losses on revaluation is accounted for in Investment Revaluation Account-Rupee Securities (IRA-RS).
[Ref: Indian Express]

Two-wheelers neither luxury nor sin goods: FM

The Finance Minister stated that two-wheelers are neither a luxury nor sin goods and so they merit a GST rate revision.

  • Two-wheelers currently attract 28% GST. A rate revision proposal for lowering GST rates would be taken up by the GST Council.

Sin tax:

  • Sin Tax is applied on goods that adversely affect health, most notably tobacco and alcohol.
  • Sin goods are goods which consider harmful to society.
  • A sin tax is levied on specific goods and services at the time of purchase.
  • Example: Alcohol and Tobacco, Drugs, Soft drinks, Fast foods, Coffee, Sugar, Gambling and Pornography.

Rationale of Sin tax:

  • To deter people from engaging in socially harmful activities and behaviours.
  • To provide a source of revenue for governments.
  • To reduce consumption through increased prices.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

NGT slams Ministry’s report on clean air programme

The National Green Tribunal has slammed the Ministry of Environment and Forests over its report on the National Clean Air Programme which proposes 20-30% reduction of air pollution by 2024.

  • The NGT disapproved of the report of the ministry that 20-30% pollutant reduction under the NCAP seems realistic.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

  • The National Clean Air Programme provides the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.
  • It is a pollution control initiative launched by the Ministry of Environment.
  • It seeks Multi-scale and Cross-Sectoral Coordination between relevant Central Ministries, State Government and local bodies.

Aim:

  • 20-30% reduction of PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentration by 2024.

Cities that fall under the Scheme:

  • 102 cities from 23 States and UTs have been chosen as non-attainment cities (cities where standards were not consecutively met for five years).
  • With the exception of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, most of those chosen are tier two cities.
  • Maharashtra tops the list with 17 cities in the list, including Pune and Nagpur, while Uttar Pradesh is second with 15 cities chosen, including Lucknow and Varanasi.
  • No cities from Manipur, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Tripura, Kerala, Goa and Haryana figure in the list.

Details of the scheme:

  • The NCAP will be a mid-term, five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
  • The programme would take 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
  • The programme is a collaboration between the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, NITI Aayog, and Central Pollution Control Board.

Key fact:

  • Right to Clean Air is a part of Right to Life and failure to address air pollution is the denial of Right to Life (Article 21 of Indian Constitution).

 [Ref: The Hindu]

Defence & Security Issues

INS Viraat to head for dismantling

The decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat is set to be scrapped at a ship breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat soon.

  • It has been sold to the Shree Ram Green Ship Recycling Industries of Gujarat in an e-auction by the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited (MSTC).

INS Viraat:

  • Viraat, a Centaur class aircraft carrier weighing 27,800 tonnes, served in the British Navy as HMS Hermes for 25 years from November 1959 to April 1984.
  • It was commissioned into the Indian Navy in May 1987 after refurbishment and had operated Harrier fighter jets.
  • Known as the ‘Grand Old Lady’, it holds the Guinness record for being the oldest serving warship in the world.
  • INS Viraat was decommissioned in 2017.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

Art & Culture

New circles of ASI

The Ministry of Culture has announced 7 new circles of Archaeological Survey of India.

  • Earlier there were 29 ASI circles across the country.

Aim:

  • To facilitate and strengthen the process of preservation and registration of archaeological monuments along with registration of artefacts with self-declaration.

New circles:

  • New circles created in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Trichy (Tamil Nadu), Meerut, Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh), Hampi (Karnataka), Raiganj (West Bengal) and Rajkot (Gujarat).
  • The Hampi Mini Circle (Hampi city in Karnataka) has been converted into a full-fledged circle.

Archaeological Survey of India:

  • The ASI is the premier organization for archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
  • It is under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture.
  • It regulates all archaeological activities as per provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  • It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
  • The prime concern of the ASI is maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.

 [Ref: PIB; ASI]

Pulikkali to go online this Onam

Pulikkali is an inevitable part of Onam Celebrations in Thrissur, Kerala.

  • Amidst the restrictions of COVID-19 pandemic, Pulikkali will be conducted online on the fourth Onam Day.

Pulikkali:

  • Pulikali (Tiger Dance) is one among the folk art forms of Kerala.
  • Pulikkali literally means ‘play of the tigers’.
  • The art is performed on the fourth day of Onam.
  • Performers are painted like tigers with stripes of yellow, red and black.
  • They dance to the rhythm of traditional percussion instruments such as thakil, udukku and chenda and wear leopard or tiger masks.
  • Theme: Main theme is tiger hunting with participants playing the role of tiger and hunter.
  • Pulikkali groups are called as ‘sangams’.
  • It is performed all over Kerala during Onam with special significance in Palakkad and Thrissur districts.
  • Origin: Believed that Pulikkali started 200 years ago during the time of King Sakthan Thampuran.

Onam:

  • Onam is the popular harvest festival of Kerala celebrated in autumn (August–September).
  • Onam celebrations include Vallam Kali (boat races), Pulikkali (tiger dances), Pookkalam (flower Rangoli), Onathappan (worship), Onam Kali (Tug of War), Thumbi Thullal (women’s dance), Kummattikali (mask dance), Onathallu (martial arts) and other celebrations.
  • It is the New Year day for Malayalis.
  • Vallam Kali is a traditional boat race.
  • It is a form of canoe racing, and uses paddled war canoes.
  • The snake boat (chundam vallam) is a long canoe that can seat up to 100 rowers.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Key Facts for Prelims

Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has invited nominations for the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar-2021 from children, individuals and institutions.

  • The award is instituted to felicitate meritorious children, individuals and institutions of the country.

Categories:

  • These awards are given under two categories – Bal Shakti Puraskar and Bal Kalyan Puraskar.
  • Bal Shakti Puraskar: To give recognition to children who have achieved extraordinarily in various fields including innovation, scholastic, sports, art & culture, social service and bravery,
  • Bal Kalyan Puraskar: Recognition to Individuals and Institutions, who have made an outstanding contribution towards service for children in the field of child development, child protection and child welfare.

Awarded by:

  • The Awards are given by the President of India in Darbar Hall, Rashtrapati Bhavan in the week preceding Republic Day every year.
  • The Awardees of Bal Shakti Puraskar also take part in Republic Day Parade on the 26th of January on Rajpath, New Delhi.

Tribal dances of Tamil Nadu and J&K

  • Ministry of Tourism organized an online programme ‘Fascinating Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu, Jammu& Kashmir, & Ladakh.’
  • Folk dances of J&K and Ladakh: Kud, Dumhal, Rouf, Hafiza, BhandJashan among others. 
  • Tribal dances of Tamil Nadu: Dances from the simplest form of a puppet show to the PoikkalKuthiraiAttam in which performers dress like a peacock for MayilAttam, as a horse while performing PoikkalKuthirai, as a bull in KaalaiAttam, snake like dress for PaampuAttam and as a bear in KaradiAttam.
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