UPSC Daily Current Affairs – Prelims & Mains [12th July 2023]

Table of Contents

Extreme rain events: How unusual, what is causing them

Syllabus: Physical Geography of India (Drainage, Climate)

In News

Northern India is currently in the midst of an extremely wet phase of the monsoon.

What is an extremely heavy rainfall event?

  • When rainfall surpasses 205 mm within a 24-hour period, it is classified as an “extremely heavy rainfall event” according to the IMD (Indian Meteorological Department). 
  • Such occurrences are not uncommon during the monsoon season. 
  • Since the 2013 Uttarakhand tragedy, every year has witnessed at least one major disaster-like situation caused by extreme rainfall events.

Trends in recent years

  • Over the past two decades, the total rainfall during the monsoon has shown little change, maintaining a relatively constant pattern. However, there has been a noticeable increase in intra-seasonal variation. 
  • Nowadays, a smaller number of days are responsible for generating the majority of the seasonal rainfall, leaving the remaining days with significantly drier conditions.

How is this year’s monsoon rainfall unusual?

  • Contrary to expectations, this year’s monsoon season was projected to be relatively dry. 
  • However, the reality has been quite different, with Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh experiencing a significant 26% increase in July rainfall compared to the normal levels. 
  • Unfortunately, the heavy downpours have led to extensive destruction and loss of lives, particularly in the hilly regions.

Reasons for this extreme rainfall:

  • Rains induced by the Biparjoy cyclone: By the first two weeks of the monsoon, India had accumulated a rainfall deficit of more than 50%, but it decreased to 8% by the end of June.
  • Western disturbances: IMD attributes this spell to an interaction between the monsoon winds and western disturbances converging over northern India.
  • Climate change: Increasing the possibility, frequency, and intensity of extreme weather events, including heavy rainfall and heatwaves.
  • Warming of the Arabian Sea: Excess rainfall over northwest India is consistent with the Arabian Sea having warmed by about 1.5 degrees Celsius since January.

How can Indian cities bring themselves out of these troubled waters?

  • Plan the usage of shallow aquifers to prevent waterlogging.
  • Recharge deeper aquifers with rainwater to sustain groundwater levels.
  • Formulate a water plan to effectively recharge aquifers.
  • Implement rainwater harvesting structures along stormwater drains to mitigate floods and utilize rainwater resources.

Conclusion

Improved forecasts with sufficient granularity in space and time are essential to reduce the element of surprise resulting from these extreme weather events.

Prelims Questions: UPSC 2020

With reference to Ocean Mean Temperature (OMT), which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. OMT is measured up to a depth of 26°C isotherm which is 129 meters in the southwestern Indian Ocean during January — March.
  2. OMT collected during January — March can be used in assessing whether the amount of rainfall in the monsoon will be less or more than a certain long-term mean.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

 Ans: 2

Impact of India’s demographic journey on Women’s Lives

 Syllabus: Role of Women and Women’s Organization

In News

World Population Day (July 11) is a time to look at how India’s demographic journey has changed the lives of its citizens, particularly its women.

India’s population

  • India’s population: It has grown from approximately 340 million at Independence to 4 billion.
  • The growth was driven by improvements in public health and food security, leading to increased life expectancy. For instance, male life expectancy rose from 56 years in 1941 to 69 years at present.
  • As mortality rates declined rapidly, parents no longer needed to have four children to ensure survival. This led to a decline in the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) from 5.7 in 1950 to 2.1 in 2019.

Impact of reduced TFR:

The decline in TFR has brought about a significant transformation in the lives of Indian women.

Women’s childhood, adulthood, and old age have experienced both positive and negative changes during the course of this demographic transition.

Way ahead:

  • Women should focus on establishing secure connections to the labor market and gaining work experience to access skilled jobs.
  • Improving women’s access to employment and assets will reduce their dependence on sons and help break the cycle of gendered disadvantage.
  • To achieve higher women’s labor force participation, efforts must be made to provide access to safe and affordable childcare, particularly considering the prevalence of early marriage and childbearing in Indian women’s lives.

How to ensure access to safe and affordable childcare?

  • Utilize the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to develop social infrastructure, with NREGS workers contributing to staffing crèches.
  • Leverage the burgeoning self-help group movement to establish neighborhood child-care centers in both urban and rural areas.

Best practice:

Crèche facilities in Anganwadis in Madhya Pradesh led to an increase in the work participation of mothers.

Conclusion:

  • To fully harness the demographic dividends, it is crucial to capitalize on the gender dividend.
  • Since changing patriarchal norms may take time, improving access to childcare for working women is a feasible and immediate step towards progress.

Mains Question:

What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space? (UPSC 2019)

Multidimensional poverty Index

Syllabus: Issues Relating to Poverty and Hunger

In News

According to the 2023 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), a remarkable 415 million people in India successfully emerged from poverty in a span of just 15 years, from 2005/2006 to 2019/2021.

What is the global MPI?

  • The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is a significant international tool used to measure acute multidimensional poverty on an annual basis in over 100 developing countries.
  • Jointly launched in 2010 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), the global MPI aims to advance SDG 1, which focuses on ending poverty in all its forms worldwide.
  • The MPI also assesses interconnected deprivations by considering indicators related to various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11.

How does it measure multidimensional poverty?

  • The process involves creating a deprivation profile for each household and individual based on 10 indicators covering health, education, and standard of living.
  • A person is classified as multidimensionally poor if they experience deprivation in one-third (33%) or more of the weighted indicators out of the 10.
  • Furthermore, those who are deprived in one-half or more of the weighted indicators are categorized as living in extreme multidimensional poverty.

Significance of the global MPI

It monitors poverty reduction and informs policy, showing how people experience poverty in different aspects of their daily lives.

The 2023 global MPI

Concerns:

  • Child poverty remains a critical issue, especially concerning school attendance and undernutrition. The poverty rate among children stands at 27.7%, compared to 13.4% among adults.
  • Poverty is primarily concentrated in rural areas, with 84% of all poor individuals residing there.
  • The lack of comprehensive data during the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges in assessing immediate prospects.
  • The pandemic’s negative impacts, particularly on education, are substantial and may have lasting consequences.

Case of India:

  • In 2005/2006, India had approximately 645 million people living in multidimensional poverty, which declined to about 370 million in 2015/2016 and further to 230 million in 2019/2021.
  • Consequently, 415 million people were lifted out of poverty from 2005/2006 to 2019/2021.
  • The incidence of poverty reduced significantly from 55.1% to 16.4%.
  • Deprivation across all indicators witnessed a decline.
  • The poorest states and disadvantaged groups, including children and individuals from marginalized castes, experienced the most significant progress.
  • These findings are especially noteworthy as India surpassed China (in Apr 2023) to become the world’s most populous nation, with a population of 1.42 billion.

Way ahead:

  • Efforts must be intensified to understand the dimensions that have been most negatively impacted.
  • Strengthen data collection and policy efforts to get poverty reduction back on track.

Broaden the scope of the analysis to include the impacts of the pandemic on children.

Conclusion

The report highlights that poverty reduction is attainable, demonstrating the feasibility of achieving the SDG target of ending poverty in all its forms worldwide by 2030.

Mains Question:

Though there have been several different estimates of poverty in India, all indicate a reduction in poverty levels over time. Do you agree? Critically examine with reference to urban and rural poverty indicators. (UPSC 2015)

European Sky Shield Initiative’ (ESSI)

In News

Austria and Switzerland, traditionally neutral countries, have recently become part of the ‘European Sky Shield Initiative’ (ESSI) for air defense, in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

About ESSI:

  • The European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) is a collaborative effort among European countries to develop a unified air and missile defense system. Its main objective is to collectively acquire air defense equipment and missiles to bolster NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD).
  • Currently, the ESSI consists of 19 member states, aiming to leverage existing NATO cooperation frameworks for defense. Germany took the lead in spearheading this initiative in 2022.

Last Natural Person Above Every Person Clause

In News

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) clarified in the Supreme Court that the hindrances it encountered in the Hindenburg-Adani allegations case were due to the absence of a requirement to disclose the ‘last natural person above every person’ owning an economic interest in the Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs).

What is ‘Last Natural Person Above Every Person’?

  • It pertains to the need to identify and disclose the ultimate individual who exercises control or ownership over a financial investment, such as a Foreign Portfolio Investor (FPI). This involves revealing the final person in the ownership chain who holds an economic interest in the FPI, promoting transparency and accountability in the investment structure. However, most national and international laws lack such provisions.

FPI Vs. FDI?

  • FPI (Foreign Portfolio Investment) refers to investments made by foreign individuals or entities in financial assets, such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds of a country.
  • FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), on the other hand, refers to investments made by foreign individuals or entities in tangible assets, such as businesses, properties, or infrastructure projects in a country. FDI typically involves a long-term commitment and a significant level of control and ownership in the invested entity, while FPI involves relatively shorter-term investments in financial instruments without obtaining control or ownership rights.

Challenges posed by FPIs:

  • FPIs utilize multiple platforms, each below the beneficial owner identification limit, to hold stakes, thereby staying below the regulatory agencies’ radar.
  • FPIs operate in tax haven jurisdictions, creating ambiguity regarding their ownership and control.

SEBI’s recently Proposed Disclosure Requirements for FPIs

  • Tighter Rules for High-Risk FPIs
  • Transition Period and Adherence
  • Detailed Ownership Information and Enhanced Transparency
  • Stricter FPI Disclosure Standards
  • FPI Categorization

Twin-Balance Sheet problem

In News

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has stated that the Indian economy has successfully overcome the twin-balance sheet problem and now enjoys a twin-balance sheet advantage.

What is the Twin-Balance Sheet problem?

  • The twin-balance sheet problem refers to a situation in which both banks and corporates face financial distress simultaneously. This occurs when banks carry a high amount of non-performing assets (bad loans) on their balance sheets, while corporates accumulate excessive debt, leading to a negative impact on the overall economy. In 2016-17, the NPA of public sector banks had reached almost 12%.
  • As per the recent Financial Stability Report by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), both the banking and corporate sector balance sheets have significantly improved, and India might be on the verge of a twin balance sheet advantage.

Key developments indicating the improvement:

  • The gross NPA ratio has reached a 10-year low of 3.9%.
  • The corporate balance sheet is also at its healthiest in a decade.
  • The profitability of public sector banks has tripled since 2014, reaching over ₹1 lakh crore in 2022-23.

Some of the initiatives taken by the government to address the twin-balance sheet problem include:

  • Implementation of the 4R strategy (recognizing, recapitalizing, resolving, and reforming).
  • Establishing the Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC) to facilitate information sharing among banks regarding large loans.
  • Enacting the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, to streamline the resolution process.
  • Creation of the National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARCL) to manage bad debt efficiently

Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) by CBIC

In News

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has issued a standard operating procedure (SoP) to prevent the use of freebies, illicit liquor, and other prohibited items as inducements to lure voters during upcoming elections in India.

What is SoP?

A standard operating procedure (SoP) is a set of guidelines and instructions that outlines how a specific task or process should be carried out. SoPs are created to ensure consistency, efficiency, and compliance with established protocols.

About CBIC’s SoP:

  • Aim: The SoP aims to ensure fair and transparent elections by preventing the flow of suspicious cash, illicit liquor, drugs/narcotics, freebies, and smuggled goods during assembly and general elections.
  • Monitoring: In accordance with the directives of the Election Commission, CBIC has instructed its field officials to closely monitor both monetary and non-monetary inducements used during the election process.
  • Surveillance: The officials will establish surveillance teams to conduct checks on vehicles and warehouses, and take action against the smuggling of goods. Flying squads and static surveillance teams will be set up to check vehicles and verify warehouses.
  • Confiscation: Items such as saris, party flags, etc., associated with candidates or political parties and transported without an e-way bill may be subject to confiscation.
  • Reporting: Tax officers will provide daily reports of their activities to the Election Commission.

About CBIC:

  • CBIC is a government body under the Ministry of Finance in India. It is responsible for formulating policies related to customs, excise duties, GST (Goods and Services Tax), and narcotics. CBIC oversees the administration and collection of these taxes and serves as the administrative authority for its subordinate organizations, including Custom Houses, Central Excise and GST Commissionerates, and the Central Revenues Control Laboratory.

New Wheat Variety

In News

The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has successfully developed a new variety of wheat called PBW RS1, which boasts a high amylose starch content.

Advantages:

  • Reduces the risks of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases: Chapatis made from this wheat release glucose more slowly into the bloodstream, leading to a feeling of satiety and potentially reducing the prevalence of diet-related diseases.
  • Shows resistance to yellow rust and moderate resistance to brown rust fungal diseases.

Concern:

  • It exhibits slightly lower productivity compared to other wheat varieties.

About Starch:

Starch is a complex carbohydrate present in various plant-based foods, including grains, potatoes, and legumes. It serves as a storage form of energy in plants and is composed of glucose molecules linked together in long chains.

About Amylose:

Amylose is a specific type of starch found in carbohydrate-rich foods, including grains like wheat. It constitutes one of the two primary components of starch, the other being amylopectin. Foods with higher amylose content generally have a slower digestion rate and exert a lower impact on blood sugar levels in comparison to foods with higher amylopectin content.

Hydrazine Hydrate

In News

Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd (GACL), a state PSU, has commenced the dispatch of indigenously produced Hydrazine Hydrate, a chemical product used across various industries. This step aims to reduce India’s reliance on imports from Europe.

What is Hydrazine Hydrate?

Hydrazine Hydrate is a chemical compound with the formula N2H4·H2O. It appears as a colorless liquid and finds extensive usage as a reducing agent, a chemical intermediate, an oxygen scavenger in boiler water treatment, and a rocket propellant. Its applications span across industries such as pesticides, agrochemicals, water treatment, pharmaceuticals, polymer production, and fine chemicals.

About:

GACL, in collaboration with CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad, has obtained patents for domestically manufacturing Hydrazine Hydrate. The company has established a commercial-scale plant in Dahej with the capacity to produce 10,000 metric tonnes per annum of Hydrazine Hydrate. Additionally, GACL has set up a Purified Phosphoric Acid plant to cater to the demand for this chemical in various industries.

Klotho

In News

A recent study has discovered that administering a ‘longevity factor’ protein, which restores Klotho levels, to ageing monkeys can enhance their cognitive function significantly.

What is Klotho?

Klotho is an enzyme encoded by the KL gene and produced in the kidney of humans. As individuals age, the circulating levels of soluble Klotho decrease, and the Klotho gene is linked to an increased risk of age-related diseases.

Significance of the findings:

  • The findings hold great potential as they may pave the way for novel treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Previous research conducted on mice had demonstrated that injections of Klotho could extend their lifespans and enhance synaptic plasticity. Synaptic plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to control communication between neurons at junctions called synapses.

Sweden

In News

Sweden’s bid to join NATO membership has encountered obstacles, with Turkey and Hungary yet to give their approval. In contrast, Finland has already become a member of NATO.

Sweden is a Scandinavian nation characterized by numerous coastal islands, inland lakes, extensive boreal forests, and glaciated mountains. Its capital, Stockholm, is situated on 14 islands. Historically, Sweden has maintained a policy of neutrality in world geopolitics.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also known as the North Atlantic Alliance, was established in 1949 and is headquartered in Brussels. It is an intergovernmental military alliance comprising 31 member states, with 29 from Europe and two from North America.

Ecuador

In News

The port city of Guayaquil in Ecuador, known as a key route for cocaine trafficking from neighboring Colombia to the United States and Europe, is currently facing a devastating battle for control between criminal gangs, leaving the country in a state of turmoil. The violence has witnessed a sharp escalation in recent years, leading Ecuador to be ranked as the fourth most violent country in Latin America, surpassed only by Venezuela, Honduras, and Colombia.

Situated on South America’s west coast, Ecuador boasts a diverse landscape that includes the Amazon jungle, Andean highlands, and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands. The country has been entangled in the drug trade since the 1980s, serving as a transit route for Peruvian coca base trafficked into Colombia.

For Daily Current Affairs Click Here

Join our Official Telegram Channel HERE
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE
Follow our Instagram ID HERE

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *