Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 7th December 2018

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Beach pollution

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Biodiversity; Pollution

In news:

  • In addition to air and water pollution, India can now add one more category to its pollution worries: beach pollution.

According to a study by the National Centre of Coastal Research (NCCR)

  • Tourism and fishing contributing most of the plastic litter on beaches.
  • Plastic litter from tourism alone accounted for 40%-96% of all beach litter.
  • Gopalpur in Odisha is the worst hit.
  • After tourism, fishing was the next biggest source of litter. While fishing nets were a major contributor, the processing of fish on the beach also produced a lot of litter.
  • Also, the proportion of biomedical litter was high in urban areas.

Do you know?

  • September 15, 2018 is celebrated as International Coastal Cleanup Day.
  • India needs a national marine litter policy to control and manage waste on land and prevent its entry into the marine environment.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/12/07/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_01/fd379e02_2576765_101_mr.jpg


‘Air pollution cause of 1 in 8 deaths’

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Health; Environment and Ecology; Pollution

In news:

  • India has a disproportionately high 26% of the global premature deaths and disease burden due to air pollution.
  • One in eight deaths in India was attributable to air pollution in India in 2017, making it a leading risk factor for death. (reduction in life expectancy associated with air pollution)

Do you know?

  • These research findings were published in The Lancet Planetary Health.
  • 4 lakh deaths in India in 2017 were due to air pollution, which included 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh deaths due to household air pollution.
  • In 2017, 77% population of India was exposed to ambient particulate matter PM2.5 above the recommended limit by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • Highest PM2.5 exposure level was in Delhi, followed by the other north Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana.

Agriculture Export Policy: Policy to double agri exports

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy; Agriculture

In news:

  • Cabinet approved the Agriculture Export Policy, aimed at increasing India’s exports to $60 billion by 2022 from the current $37 billion.
  • This is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of doubling farmers’ income.

Objectives:

  • To double farmers’ income.
  • To diversify the export basket and destinations.
  • To boost high-value and value-added exports, with a focus on perishables.
  • To promote the export of “novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional” products.
  • To provide an institutional mechanism for market access, tackling barriers, and dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
  • To strive to double India’s share in world agri exports by integrating with global value chain at the earliest.
  • Enable farmers to get benefit of export opportunities in overseas market.

NGT order: Karnataka must set aside ₹500 cr. for Bengaluru lakes

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Biodiversity; Pollution

In news:

  • NGT orders Karnataka to set aside ₹500 cr. for cleaning up water bodies in Bengaluru.
  • Lakes under danger – Bellandur, Agara and Varthur lakes
  • The amount is to be utilised for execution of action plans to clean the water bodies.

Do you know?

  • Untreated sewage continued to flow into the water bodies “indiscriminately”.
  • State government to deposit ₹50 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as environmental compensation.

National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS)

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Government schemes and policies

In news:

  • Union Cabinet approved the launching of the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS).
  • The Mission is to be implemented by the Department of Science &Technology at a total outlay of ₹3,660 crore over five years.
  • The Mission targets the establishment of 15 Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH), six Application Innovation Hubs and four Technology Translation Research Parks (TTRP).

Details of the Mission:

The Mission addresses the ever increasing technological requirements of the society, and takes into account the international trends and road maps of leading countries for the next generation technologies. The mission implementation would develop and bring:

  • Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and associated technologies within reach in the country,
  • adoption of CPS technologies to address India specific National / Regional issues,
  • produce Next Generation skilled manpower in CPS,
  • catalyze Translational Research,
  • accelerate entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development in CPS,
  • give impetus to advanced research in CPS, Technology development and higher education in Science, Technology and Engineering disciplines, and
  • place India at par with other advanced countries and derive several direct and indirect benefits.

The Mission will feed the Central Ministries/ Departments and State Govts and also the Industry to effectively use the CPS technologies in their projects and schemes for the benefit of the society.


Miscellaneous:

NSCN(IM) cadre killed – A hardcore cadre of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah) was killed in an encounter with security forces in Arunachal Pradesh.

Korean firm Kia Motors India signed an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government for collaboration on future eco-mobility and electric vehicle infrastructure. (Plant is located in Anantapur)

Radhakrishnan  Committee on Road Safety: Death of nearly 15,000 people in road accidents are caused by potholes in the last five years, according to report filed by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan.

Child porn videos to be removed: Online giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and messaging platform WhatsApp have all agreed in the Supreme Court that “child pornography, rape and gang rape videos and objectionable material need to be stamped out.”



ECONOMY

TOPIC:General studies 3

  • Indian economy; Monetary Policy

A valid pause: on RBI holding rates

Introduction

  • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided to keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.5 per cent.
  • This decision of the MPC is consistent with the stance of calibrated tightening of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent.
  • It is to be noted that in the last policy review, the RBI had changed its policy stance to “Calibrated tightening” from “neutral”, implying that cut in the policy rates was ruled out.

Reasons for keeping the Policy rates unchanged

  • The RBI expects that the retail inflation in India would stay below the legally mandated 4 per cent mark for the coming 12 months. It has cut its inflation forecast for the second half of the current fiscal year from 3.9-4.5 per cent to 2.7-3.2 per cent.
  • The inflation forecast has been reduced by the RBI mainly on account of decline in food and fuel prices. The Crude oil prices have reduced by almost 30% in the last one month.
  • Further, the food inflation has been lower on account of decline in the prices of sugar, pulses, fruits and vegetables.

Do you know?

RBI’s various policy stances with regard to policy rates

Accommodative Stance

  • Accommodative stance means RBI may reduce the policy rates to increase the money supply in the economy.
  • Under this stance, policy rates normally decrease.
  • Usually, this policy is adopted when there is slowdown in the economy.

Neutral stance

  • Neutral stance means the RBI would have the flexibility to either increase or decrease the policy rates by taking into account the macroeconomic conditions.
  • Under this stance, key policy rates would move in either direction.
  • Usually, this policy is adopted when the inflation rate is stable.

Calibrated Tightening stance

  • Calibrated Tightening stance means the RBI would either keep the rates constant or increase the rates.
  • Under this stance, key policy rates either remain unchanged or increase. Decrease in policy rates is ruled out.
  • Usually, this policy is adopted when there are concerns of higher rate of inflation.

Changes in SLR rate

  • In order to boost credit flows, the RBI has decided to reduce the SLR from 19.5% to 18% over the next 6 quarters by reducing SLR by 25 bps each in every quarter.
  • The SLR is one of the monetary policy tools used by the RBI to control money supply in the economy. SLR is the ratio of net demand and time deposits that the banks have to maintain with themselves in the form of cash, G-Secs and Gold.
  • Increase in SLR rate leads to increase in rate of interest on loans leading to decrease in money supply. Similarly, decrease in SLR rate leads to increase in supply in the economy.

Future challenges

  • There has been divergence between CPI Core Inflation and Headline Inflation. The CPI core inflation has remained higher at 6.2% while the headline inflation has remained at 3.3%. This means that decline in Food prices and crude oil has so far had moderating effect on Inflation.
  • However, since both food and crude oil are volatile commodities, one cannot expect that the rate of inflation would continue to remain lower.
  • Further, the RBI is worried about the impact of increase in minimum support prices, possible fiscal slippages and a sudden increase in oil prices in case the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decides on production cuts.

Conclusion

The central bank has once again raised a cautionary signal to governments, both at the Centre and in the States. Fiscal slippages risk impacting the inflation outlook, heightening market volatility and crowding out private investment. Instead, this may be an opportune time to bolster macroeconomic fundamentals through fiscal prudence.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the various policy stances which monetary policy committee(MPC) can take while deciding the policy rates.

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Together in an uncertain world: On India-EU relations

Introduction

  • European Union released its strategy on India after 14 years. This road map replaces 2004 EU-India Declaration on building bilateral strategic partnership.
  • The European Union and India have upgraded their long-standing relationship to a strategic partnership in 2004, acknowledging their common goals and principles.
  • Nowadays, in a challenging international environment, the EU and India share the same values of democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and support the rules-based global order centred on multilateralism.
  • The European Union has unveiled a sweeping new vision to significantly scale up ties with India, including closer coordination to forge a multilateral rules-based world order and enhanced military-to-military relations and joint exercises.

Background:

  • India was one of the first countries to develop relations with the European Union. The Joint Political Statement of 1993 and the 1994 Co-operation Agreement were the foundational agreements for the bilateral partnership.
  • In 2004, India and European Union became “Strategic Partners“. A Joint Action Plan was agreed upon in 2005 and updated in 2008.
  • The EU is India’s largest trading partner with 12.5% of India’s overall trade between 2015 and 2016, ahead of China (10.8%) and the United States (9.3%).
  • India is the EU’s 9th largest trading partner with 2.4% of the EU’s overall trade. Bilateral trade (in both goods & services) reached €115 billion in 2017.

India is rapidly integrating with the global economy:

  • At 1.25 billion, India is the second most populous state and largest democracy in the world. With an annual GDP growth rate in excess of 7.5 % for over a decade it is now in the world’s top ten largest economies (4th by PPP).
  • As such, India is an important trade and investment partner for the EU, combining a sizable and growing market with one of the fastest growing economies in the world arguably the fastest among the big economies.
  • Although it is far from the closed market that it was twenty years ago, India still maintains substantial tariff and non-tariff barriers that hinder trade with the EU.
  • The new strategy makes EU trade policy more responsible by basing it on three key principles:
  • Effectiveness: Making sure trade actually delivers on its promise of new economic opportunities. That means addressing the issues that affect today’s economy, including services and digital trade.
  • Transparency: Opening up negotiations to more public scrutiny by publishing key negotiating texts from all negotiations, as has been done in the TTIP negotiations.
  • Values: Safeguarding the European social and regulatory model at home. Using trade agreements and preference programmes as levers to for the worldwide promotion of European values such as sustainable development, human rights, fair and ethical trade and the fight against corruption.
  • These three principles ensure that trade policy benefits as many people as possible.

 Transformative shift:

  • The new document is sweeping in its scope and lays out a road map for strengthening the EU-India partnership.
  • The new strategy underscores a transformative shift in Brussels vis-à-vis India and talks of key focus areas: such as the need to conclude a broader Strategic Partnership Agreement, intensifying dialogue on Afghanistan and Central Asia, strengthening technical cooperation on fighting terrorism, and countering radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorist financing.
  • More significant from the perspective of the EU, is a recognition of the need to develop defence and security cooperation with India.
  • Despite sharing a congruence of values and democratic ideals, India and the EU have both struggled to build a partnership that can be instrumental in shaping the geopolitics and geo-economics of the 21st century.
  • But where India’s relations with individual EU nations have progressed dramatically over the last few years and the EU’s focus on India has grown, it has become imperative for the two to give each other a serious look.

India; a natural choice for EU

  • As the wider EU political landscape evolves after Brexit, and India seeks to manage the turbulent geopolitics in Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific, both recognise the importance of engaging each other.
  • There is a new push in Brussels to emerge as a geopolitical actor of some significance and India is a natural partner in many respects.
  • There is widespread disappointment with the trajectory of China’s evolution and the Trump administration’s disdain for its Western allies is highly disruptive.
  • At a time when India’s horizons are widening beyond South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, Brussels is also being forced to look beyond its periphery.
  • The EU will be part of the International Solar Alliance, and has invited India to escort World Food Programme vessels to transport food to Somalia.
  • The two have been coordinating closely on regional issues.

Way forward:

  • The new India strategy document unveiled by the EU, therefore, comes at an appropriate time when both have to seriously recalibrate their partnership.
  • Merely reiterating that India and the EU are “natural partners” is not enough, and the areas outlined in the document, from security sector cooperation to countering terrorism and regional security, need to be focused on.
  • India needs resources and expertise from the EU for its various priority areas, such as cybersecurity, urbanisation, environmental regeneration, and skill development.
  • As the EU shifts its focus to India, New Delhi should heartily reciprocate this outreach.

Connecting the dots:

  • India and EU are “natural partners”. Discuss India-EU relationship in various spheres.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the below statements:

  1. Agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution in India, followed by sewage and organic solid wastes.
  2. Tourism and fishing contributing most of the plastic litter on beaches.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q.2) Which of the following Acts make Environment Impact Assessment mandatory in India?

  1. Indian Forest Act
  2. Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act
  3. Wildlife Protection Act
  4. Environment (Protection) Act

Q.3) Which of the following are the correct examples of Pigovian Tax?

  1. Tax on pollution
  2. Tax on tobacco products
  3. Tax on alcoholic drinks
  4. Tax on Water supply

Select the code from following:

  1. 1,2 and 3
  2. 2,3 and 4
  3. 4 only
  4. All of the above

Q.4) The theme of Earth Day 2018 is –

  1. “End Plastic Pollution”
  2. “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future”
  3. “Beat Plastic Pollution”
  4. ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.

Q.5) Bellandur, Agara and Varthur lakes are often in news. They are associated with which state?

  1. Karnataka
  2. Tamil Nadu
  3. Kerala
  4. Andhra Pradesh

Q.6) Justice Radhakrishnan Committee is associated with

  1. Teacher Reforms
  2. Pension Reforms
  3. Labour Reforms
  4. Road Safety Reforms

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