Current Affairs Analysis

29th August 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Barn owl; Common Electoral Roll; Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana; National Award to Teachers 2020; Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS); Sustainable Finance Collaborative; Kavaratti island; India-Japan relations; Shinzo Abe; Mahatma Ayyankali; Great Andamanese tribe; Jarwas; Onges; Shompens; North Sentinelese; World Urdu Conference; National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL); Hurricane Laura; Tropical cyclone; Association of Renewable Energy Agencies of the States; Doing Business Report; Poshan Maah; OSCA1.3 Plant protein; Noor Inayat Khan; Svalbard archipelago; etc.
By IASToppers
August 29, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Why government wants a Common Electoral Roll?

Government Schemes & Policies

  • 6 Years of PM-JDY

Issues related to Health & Education

  • National Award to Teachers (NAT) 2020

Economy

  • Sustainable Finance Collaborative

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Lakshadweep to have more Kerala barn owls to kill rats

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Japan’s Prime Minister resigned for health reason

Art & Culture

  • Mahatma Ayyankali
  • Members of Great Andaman tribe test COVID-19 positive
  • World Urdu Conference

Geophysical Phenomena

  • Hurricane Laura

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Chunauti- Next Generation Startup Challenge
  • Association of Renewable Energy Agencies of the States
  • Doing Business Report
  • Poshan Maah
  • OSCA 1.3 Plant protein
  • Noor Inayat Khan
  • Svalbard archipelago

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Polity & Governance

Why government wants a Common Electoral Roll?

The Prime Minister’s Office held a meeting with Election Commission and Law Ministry to discuss the possibility of having a common electoral roll for elections to panchayat, municipality, state assembly and Lok Sabha.

  • PM Modi has often pitched for a single voters list.

Types of electoral rolls:

  • In many states, the voters’ list for panchayat and municipality elections is different from the one used for Parliament and Assembly elections.
  • This is because we have two constitutional authorities — Election Commission (EC) of India and State Election Commissions (SECs).
  • The EC conducts polls to offices of President and Vice-President of India, and Parliament, state assemblies and legislative councils.
  • The SECs supervise municipal and panchayat elections. They are free to prepare their own electoral rolls for local body elections, and this does not have to be coordinated with EC.

Do all states have a separate voters list?

  • Each SEC is governed by a separate state Act.
  • Some state laws allow the SEC to borrow and use EC’s voter’s rolls for the local body elections.
  • Other SECs use EC’s voters list as basis for preparation and revision of rolls for municipality and panchayat elections.
  • Currently, all states, except Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Odisha, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and UT J&K adopt EC’s rolls for local body polls.

Why common electoral roll?

  • Common electoral roll (CER) was promised in the BJP manifesto for Lok Sabha elections 2019.
  • The government aims for the common electoral roll and simultaneous elections to save an enormous amount of effort and expenditure.
  • The preparation of a separate voters list causes duplication of essentially the same task between two different agencies.
  • This duplicates the effort as well as the expenditure.
  • The Law Commission recommended CER in its 255th report in 2015.
  • The EC asked for CER in 1999 and 2004.

Proposed implementation:

  • By a constitutional amendment to Articles 243K and 243ZA that give power of superintendence, direction and control of preparation of electoral rolls and conduct of local body elections to SECs.
  • It would make mandatory to have a single electoral roll for all elections in the country.
  • By persuading the state governments to tweak their respective laws and adopt the Election Commission’s (EC) voters list for municipal and panchayat polls.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Government Schemes & Policies

6 Years of PM-JDY

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana has completed its six years in August 2020.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana:

  • PMJDY is National Mission for Financial Inclusion to ensure access to financial services -Banking/ Savings & Deposit Accounts, Remittance, Credit, Insurance, Pension in an affordable manner.

Objectives:

  • To ensure access of financial products & services at an affordable cost.
  • Use of technology to lower cost & widen reach.

Basic tenets of the scheme:

  • Banking the unbanked – Opening of basic savings bank deposit (BSBD) account with minimal paperwork, relaxed KYC, e-KYC, account opening in camp mode, zero balance & zero charges.
  • Securing the unsecured – Issuance of Indigenous Debit cards for cash withdrawals & payments at merchant locations, with free accident insurance coverage of Rs. 2 lakhs.
  • Funding the unfunded – Other financial products like micro-insurance, overdraft for consumption, micro-pension & micro-credit.

Initial Features:

  1. Based upon the following 6 pillars:
  • Universal access to banking services – Branch and Banking Correspondents.
  • Basic savings bank accounts with overdraft facility (OD) of Rs. 10,000/- to every household.
  • Financial Literacy Program– Promoting savings, use of ATMs, getting ready for credit, availing insurance and pensions, using basic mobile phones for banking.
  • Creation of Credit Guarantee Fund – To provide banks some guarantee against defaults.
  • Insurance – Accident cover up to Rs. 1,00,000 and life cover of   Rs. 30,000 on account opened between 15 Aug 2014 to 31 January 2015.
  • Pension scheme for Unorganized sector.

Extension of PMJDY with New features:

  • Focus shift from Every Household to Every Unbanked Adult.
  • RuPay Card Insurance – Free accidental insurance cover on RuPay cards increased from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakhs for PMJDY accounts opened after 28.8.2018.
  • Enhancement in overdraft facilities – OD limit doubled from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000; OD upto Rs 2,000 (without conditions). Increase in upper age limit for OD from 60 to 65 years.

 Achievements under PMJDY:

 [Ref: PIB]

Issues related to Health & Education

National Award to Teachers (NAT) 2020

The NAT 2020 was awarded to Ms. Sudha Painuli, Vice Principal, EMRS-Kalsi, Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

  • She has been awarded for her contribution to the Eklavya Model Residential Schools and initiatives like Eklavya Birthday Garden, Theatre in Education, Eklavya Tribal Museum, Skill Development Workshops etc.

National Award to Teachers:

  • To celebrate the unique contribution of some of the finest teachers in the country.
  • To honor those teachers who have improved the quality of school education & enriched the lives of their students.

Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS):

  • EMRS is a Government of India scheme for model residential school for Indian tribals (Scheduled Tribes) across India.
  • It was introduced in the year 1997-98.

Objectives:

  • To provide quality middle and high-level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas in order to enable them to avail of reservation in high and professional educational courses and get jobs in government and public and private sectors.
  • Comprehensive physical, mental and socially relevant development of all students enrolled in each and every EMRS.
  • Focus differentially on the educational support to be made available to those in Standards XI and XII, and those in standards VI to X, so that their distinctive needs can be met.
  • Support the construction of infrastructure that provides education, physical, environmental and cultural needs of student life.

Implementation:

  • The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Tribal affairs.

Provisions:

  • EMRSs are set up in States/UTs with grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution of India.
  • As per budget announcement 2018-19, every block having 50% or more ST population and at least 20,000 ST persons is to have an EMRS by the year 2022.
  • The government gives one time ₹30 lakh grant for establishing the school, thereafter up to ₹30 lakhs per school annually. Additional cost is borne by state governments.
  • A total number of 438 EMRSs have so far been sanctioned by the Ministry, out of which 285 are functional.
  • As per existing guidelines, the total number of EMRSs being set up upto the year 2022 is 740.

Structure:

  • Admission to these schools will be through selection/competition with suitable provision for preference to children belonging to Primitive Tribal Groups, first generation students, etc.
  • Sufficient land would be given by the State Government free of cost for the school, play grounds, hostels, residential quarters etc.
  • The number of seats for boys and girls will be equal and education will be entirely free.

 [Ref: PIB]

Economy

Sustainable Finance Collaborative

The Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance launched Sustainable Finance Collaborative on 26th August 2020 in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme India.

Objective:

  • To work together to boost efforts on mobilizing sustainable and green finance.

Major highlights:

It included dialogues on:

  • Barriers to deploying new and innovative financing such as impact investing.
  • Role of blended finance instruments.
  • Green finance instruments for sustainable development.
  • Need for a taxonomy of environmentally sustainable activities.
  • Sustainability-related disclosures by corporates.
  • Preparing financial sector for risks posed by climate change and other issues.

 [Ref: Times Now]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Lakshadweep to have more Kerala barn owls to kill rats

The Lakshadweep Administration has started the ‘Pilot project on Biological Control of Rodents (Rats) by Using Barn Owls’ in the Kavaratti Island.

Need:

  • Barn Owls will be employed to decimate the population of the rats.
  • The initiative is taken due to large extent damage by rats to the island’s coconut yield and economy.
  • The islands have no other natural predators of rodents.
  • Using chemical agents to control rats is impossible since Lakshadweep practices organic agriculture.

Barn owl:

  • Barn owl or common owl is the most widely distributed species of owl.
  • It is found almost everywhere in the world except polar and desert regions.
  • Barn owls specialise in hunting animals on the ground.
  • Nearly all of their food consists of small mammals which they locate by sound (have acute hearing ability).
  • IUCN status: Least Concern.

Kavaratti island:

  • The Kavaratti is the capital of the Union Territory Lakshadweep in India.
  • The island lies 360 Km of the coast of the State of Kerala.
  • Karavatti has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as smart city under Smart Cities Mission.
  • The island has the maximum length of 5.8 km and width is 1.6 km.
  • Kavaratti has a tropical monsoon climate with tourism as the primary industry.
  • The most commonly spoken languages are Malayalam, Mahl and English.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

Bilateral & International Relations

Japan’s Prime Minister resigned for health reason

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe announced to step down due to a chronic illness.

  • Abe was due to be in office till September 2021 and will stay on until his party chooses a successor.

Shinzo Abe:

  • Abe is Japan’s longest-serving PM by consecutive days in office, from 2006-07 and from 2012-present.

India-Japan relations:

  • India and Japan have robust cooperation in the areas of Defence, Maritime cooperation, Science & Technology and Trade.

1. India-Japan ties:

  • The foundation for Global Partnership between Japan and India was laid in 2001
  • The bilateral relationship was upgraded to Special Strategic and Global Partnership in 2014.
  • It encompasses issues from civilian nuclear energy, maritime security, bullet trains, quality infrastructure, Act East policy, Indo-Pacific strategy etc.

2. Defence and Indo-Pacific:

  • The two sides decided to have Foreign and Defence Ministers’ Meeting (2+2), and are negotiating Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement — a kind of military logistics support pact.
  • A pact for transfer of defence equipment and technology was signed in 2015.
  • The defence forces organise bilateral exercises: JIMEX, SHINYUU Maitri and Dharma Guardian.
  • The two countries also participate in Malabar exercise with USA.

3. Infrastructure:

  • India has decided to introduce the Shinkansen system (bullet train), due to begin in 2022.
  • India and Japan formed the Act East Forum and are engaged in projects in the Northeast.
  • The two countries also planned joint projects in Maldives and Sri Lanka to counter Beijing’s influence.
[Ref: Indian Express; MEA]

Art & Culture

Mahatma Ayyankali

Tributes were paid to the social reformer Mahatma Ayyankali on his 157th birth anniversary.

About Mahatma Ayyankali:

  • Ayyankali was a social reformer born on August 28th, 1863 in a small village in princely state of Travancore, Kerala.
  • He was born in the Pulayar community of untouchables.
  • He resolved to get rid of boundaries of the caste system and became a stated protestor for Pulayar rights.

Contributions:

  • He was the most important Dalit leader of modern Kerala and influenced many changes to improve social wellbeing of Dalits.
  • He defied restrictions and fought for many rights such as access to public places, right to the dignity of clothing, right to use public roads, right to education, etc.
  • He was the earliest labour leaders from Kerala and fought for rights of agricultural labourers.
  • He stood for right of the farm labourers to be paid in cash and demanded rest time for the workers.
  • He worked for the right of Dalit children to get educated in public schools.

Titles:

  • The Pulaya community of Kerala describes him as Raja.
  • Mahatma Gandhi called Ayyankali as ‘Pulaya king’.
  • Indira Gandhi described him as ‘India’s greatest son’.
[Ref: One India]

Members of Great Andaman tribe test COVID-19 positive

Five members of the Great Andamanese tribe have tested positive for COVID-19.

PVTG tribes of Andaman Islands:

  • There are five Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups tribes on Andaman Islands.

1. Great Andamanese tribe:

  • Great Andamanese are a part of the Negrito tribes that inhabit isolated parts of Southeast Asia and the Andaman Islands.
  • The tribe speak Jeru dialect among themselves.
  • Their number stands at just 51 as per the study carried out in 2012.
  • Major factors for diminishing population: Environmental disturbances, contagious diseases as a result of contact with city dwellers, and high mortality rate assisted by addictions to alcohol, tobacco and opium.

2. Jarwas:

  • Jarawa tribe is native to the South Andaman Nicobar Island.
  • They are the tribes of African origin living in Andaman who settled 50 years back.
  • There are only 300-400 people of this community alive today.

3. Onges:

  • The Little Andaman Island is home to Onges tribes, who are fewer than 100.

4. Shompens:

  • They are the only tribe in the region with Mongoloid features.
  • The other PVTGs have Negroid features.

5. North Sentinelese:

  • North Sentinel Island is part of North Andaman region home to the Sentinelese tribe.
  • Only 50-100 people are alive today.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

World Urdu Conference

The two days World Urdu Conference was organised by the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) in New Delhi.

National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL):

  • It was set up in 1996 to promote, develop and propagate the Urdu language.
  • It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education (formerly Ministry of Human Resource Development).
  • It is the principal coordinating and monitoring authority for promotion of Urdu language and Urdu education in India.

Functions:

  • To undertake the production of literature in the Urdu language
  • To collect and evolve technical terms relating to various disciplines of knowledge in order to enrich the Urdu language.
  • To undertake and provide for publication, sale and exhibition of journals.
  • To help in development of computerization with a view to develop the Urdu language to meet the advanced technological requirements of the age.
  • To formulate/implement schemes for the teaching of Urdu language through mediums of English and Hindi and other Modern Indian Languages.
  • To provide financial assistance to NGOs for propagation of Urdu language.

Key fact:

  • Urdu is mentioned in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India.
[Ref: PIB]

Geophysical Phenomena

Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm, made landfall in southwestern Louisiana (a state in the US) with wind speeds reaching up to 250 km an hour.

Hurricanes and their formation:

  • Tropical cyclones or hurricanes form over the warm ocean waters near the equator.
  • When the warm, moist air rises upwards from the surface of the ocean, it creates an area of low air pressure below.
  • When this happens, the air from the surrounding areas rushes to fill this place, eventually rising when it becomes warm and moist too.
  • When the warm air rises and cools off, the moisture forms clouds.
  • This system of clouds and winds continues to grow and spin, fueled by ocean’s heat and water that evaporates from its surface.
  • As such storm systems rotate faster and faster, an eye forms in the centre.
  • Storms that form towards the north of the equator rotate counterclockwise, while those that form to the south spin clockwise because of the rotation of the Earth.

Conditions favourable for formation of tropical storms:

  • Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C.
  • Presence of the Coriolis force.
  • Small variations in the vertical wind speed.
  • A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation.
  • Upper divergence above the sea level system.

Difference between hurricane and tropical storm:

  • There is no difference and depending on where they occur, hurricanes may be called typhoons or cyclones.
  • As per NASA, the scientific name for all these storms is tropical cyclones.
  • Tropical cyclones that form over:
    • Atlantic Ocean or eastern Pacific Ocean are called hurricanes.
    • Northwest Pacific are called typhoons.
    • Bay of Bengal or Arabian Sea are called cyclones.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims

Chunauti- Next Generation Startup Challenge

The Ministry for Electronics and Information Technology launched Chunauti- Next Generation Startup Challenge.

Aim:

  • To identify around 300 startups working in identified areas and provide them seed fund of upto Rs. 25 Lakh and other facilities.

Major Highlights:

  • A budget of Rs. 95.03 Crore earmarked over a period of three years for this programme.
  • It is a contest to further boost startups and software products with special focus on Tier-II towns of India.
  • The selected startups will get incubation facilities, mentorship, security testing facilities, access to venture capitalist funding, industry connect as well as advisories in legal, Human Resource (HR), IPR and Patent matters.

Startups invited in following areas:

  • Edu-Tech, Agri-Tech & Fin-Tech Solutions for masses.
  • Supply Chain, Logistics & Transportation Management.
  • Infrastructure & Remote monitoring.
  • Medical Healthcare, Diagnostic, Preventive & Psychological Care.
  • Jobs & Skilling, Linguistic tools & technologies.

 [Ref: PIB]

Association of Renewable Energy Agencies of the States

  • Association of Renewable Energy Agencies of the States (AREAS) is formed on the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) initiative.
  • MNRE is the nodal agency at the central level for promotion of grid-connected and off-grid renewable energy in the country.
  • The AREAS got registered under Society Registration Act 1860 on 27 August 2014.
  • Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy is the Patron of the Association.
  • The Secretary of MNRE is the ex-officio President of the Association.
  • All SNAs (State Nodal Agencies) are the members of the Association.
  • AREAS has been formed to interact and learn from each other’s experiences and share their best practices and knowledge regarding technologies and schemes/programmes.

Doing Business Report

  • The World Bank puts on hold publication of its Doing Business Report, which carries Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Rankings.
  • This has been done over the alleged irregularities in the underlying data.
  • The rankings were based on a country’s performance on 10 indicators.
  • The indicators are: Starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
  • India had ranked 142nd in EODB ranking 2014.
  • It jumped to 63rd position among 190 countries in May 2019.

Poshan Maah

  • Poshan Maah is observed every year in the month of September. 
  • As part of this, Department of Food & Public Distribution organizes various activities as suggested by Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • These are undertaken in various parts of country to sensitize the target groups towards nutritional security.
  • It aims to take the message of nutrition to every nook and corner of the country with focus on complimentary food, treatment and prevention from infections in children.

OSCA1.3 Plant protein

  • Plants have a unique ability to safeguard themselves against pathogens and resist infection.
  • In case of any threat, a flood of calcium surrounds stomata which triggers it to close.
  • The stomata are encircled by two guard cells that respond to the calcium signals telling them to either expand or contract.
  • This triggers innate immune signals and initiates the plants’ defense response.
  • The calcium cannot directly pass through guard cell membranes, so, a protein called OSCA1.3 forms a channel leaking calcium to the cells.

Noor Inayat Khan

  • Noor Inayat Khan was Britain’s World War II spy.
  • She became the first Indian-origin woman to be honoured with a memorial Blue Plaque in central London recently.
  • The Blue Plaque scheme, run by English Heritage charity, honours notable people and organisations connected with particular buildings across London.

Svalbard archipelago

  • Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.
  • It is situated north of mainland Europe and about midway between continental Norway and North Pole.
  • Because of its rock and ice, cold temperatures and low humidity, it falls in the Arctic desert.
  • The area receives minimal precipitation and the air is very dry.
  • Much of the islands are covered with rock and ice, making it nearly impossible for vegetation to grow.
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