Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (2nd to 9th Aug, 2019)
(Info graphic summary at the end)
Topic in Syllabus: Schemes & Programmes
- Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) project focuses on skill development.
- It is programme of ‘Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship’.
- It is an outcome oriented project supported by ‘World Bank’.
- Convergence: Creating convergence among all skill training activities, both State-led and Government of India funded, at the state level.
- Quality: Improving the quality of skill development programs through building a pool of quality trainers, developing model curriculum and content, and standardizing assessment and certification.
- Evaluation System: Establishing a robust monitoring and evaluation system for skill training programs.
- Inclusiveness & Opportunity: Providing access to skill training opportunities to the disadvantaged sections. Creating industry-led and demand-driven skill training capacity.
- Similar to SANKALP scheme, the government has also launched the STRIVE scheme for skill development.
- Institutional Strengthening (National,State&District level)
- Quality Assurance of skill development programs
- Inclusion of marginalised population in skill development and
- Expanding Skills through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
- An award has also launched to promote skill planning at the district level, namely “District Skill Development Plan (DSDP) Awards”.
The key components of this scheme are,
National Skill Certification Body – An independent body for regulating skill assessment.
Unified National Accreditation board – A standard registration and accreditation criteria for trainers & training centres.
National Skill Research Division – It is an independent think tank with an objective to analyse labour markets to help make policies that suit the current trends.
Kaushal Mart – This is a consolidated Skilling Resource Marketplace which offers a credible platform for an exchange of skilling resources.
Takshila: National Portal for trainers – This functions as the central archive of information regarding the skill development of Trainers.
STRIVE: Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Scheme
Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) scheme is a World Bank assisted-Government of India project with the objective of improving the relevance and efficiency of skills training provided through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and apprenticeships.
It is a Central Sector Scheme, covering the following 4 result areas:
- Improved performance of ITI.
- Increased Capacities of State Governments to support ITIs and Apprenticeship Training.
- Improved Teaching and Learning.
- Improved and Broadened Apprenticeship Training.
Central Sector Scheme and Centrally Sponsored Scheme
India’s developmental plan is comprised of two types of schemes i.e., Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
Under Central sector schemes, it is 100% funded by the Union government and implemented by the Central Government machinery.
Under Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) a certain percentage of the funding is borne by the States in the ratio of 50:50, 70:30, 75:25 or 90:10 and the implementation is by the State Governments.
The Sankalp scheme is for
a. Retired government servants
b. Retired defense personnel
c. Rural Youth
d. Urban Youth
Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs
Pakistan has taken the decision to downgrade diplomatic ties with India.
It comes a day after scrapping Article 370.
- Suspension of bilateral trade,
- Review of bilateral arrangement,
- Taking India’s actions in Kashmir to the UN and
- Observing August 14 in solidarity with Kashmiris.
- Pakistan also decided to expel Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan and Pakistan will not send its High Commissioner-designate to New Delhi.
- This is not the first time that India and Pakistan are downgrading ties,
- In 2001, India pulled out it’s high commissioner after the JeM attack on Parliament.
- Pakistan reciprocated by pulling out its high commissioner.
- In 2003, India expelled Deputy high commissioner and Pakistan’s acting high commissioner, accusing of espionage.
- Pakistan retaliated by sending back the Indian acting high commissioner.
- India also suspended air, train and bus links to Pakistan.
- India-Pakistan official bilateral trade –
- It is worth about $2 billion.
- It peaked to about $ 5 billion, but fell after the Uri attack.
- A little to slump again due to the 200% duty imposed on imports from Pakistan after the Pulwama attack.
- India’s top exports to Pakistan are chemicals and textiles.
- It accounts for almost 70 per cent of the bilateral trade.
- Pakistan’s top exports to India are vegetable fats and oils, and minerals.
- It accounts for about 70 per cent of its trade with India.
Consider the following statement/s:
- The Changa Manga forest in Pakistan is the world’s largest man-made forest.
- Gwadar port in Pakistan is the largest deep sea port in the world.
- Gol Masjid is the largest Single Dome Mosque in the world and is located in Karachi, Pakistan.
Which of the above statement/s is/are Correct?
a. 1 and 2 only
b. 1 and 3 only
c. 2 and 3 only
d. All of the Above
Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment
A new data about ‘water stress’ was released by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
One-quarter of the world’s population faces “extremely high” levels of baseline water stress.
India is 13th among 17 countries which faces huge water stress.
- India has more than three times the population of the other 16 extremely highly stressed countries.
- It implies that more than three-quarters of these populations facing extremely high water stress live in India.
- The report noted that last year, NITI Aayog declared that the country is “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history.
- India’s groundwater resources are severely overdrawn, largely to provide water for irrigation.
- Groundwater tables in some northern aquifers declined at a rate of more than 8 cm per year between 1990 and 2014.
Food Insecurity: Water is key to food security as agriculture requires large quantities of water for irrigation.
Water Conflict and Migration: The loss of livelihood due to increasing water scarcity and variability could force those affected to migrate.
Financial Instability: According to the World Bank, Increasing water scarcity could erode some nations’ gross domestic product, triggering economic problems and a host of other issues.
Efficient Irrigation: In order to curb the problem of baseline water stress,(i.e excessive water withdrawal) countries must switch to more efficient irrigation technologies.
Water Conservation: Steps must be taken to promote the conservation and restoration of water bodies like lakes, floodplains, ponds and more emphasis must be laid on groundwater recharging to avoid groundwater crisis.
Water-related Data: India can manage its water risk with the help of reliable and robust data pertaining to rainfall, surface, and groundwater to develop strategies that strengthen resilience.
Steps taken by India to mitigate water stress including,
- Setting up the Jal Shakti Ministry.
- Other solutions which the WRI suggested, includes more efficient irrigation,conserving and restoring lakes, floodplains,groundwater recharge areas; andcollecting and storing rainwater.
- Globally, water withdrawals have more than doubled since the 1960s due to growing demand.
- 17 countries faces withdrawals of 80% or more from available supply, 12 of them are in the Middle East and North Africa.
- Another 44 countries (home to one-third of the world) face “high” levels of stress, where on average more than 40% of available supply is withdrawn every year.
- The World Bank found that this region has the greatest expected economic losses from climate-related water scarcity,
- The economic losses is estimated at 6%-14% of GDP by 2050.
- Even in countries with low overall water stress, communities may still be experiencing extremely stressed conditions.
For example, South Africa and the United States, which rank 48 and 71 on the list, respectively, yet the Western Cape (SA) and New Mexico (US) experience extremely high stress levels.
World Resources Institute (WRI)
- It is a global research non-profit organization whcih focuses on 7 areas: food, forests, water, energy, cities, climate and ocean.
- Its mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment.
It partners with local and national governments, private companies, publicly held corporations, and other non-profits organistations.
Given below are some statements:
- About 60% of human body is water
- About 96% of total fluoride in human body is found in bones and teeth
- Most adults consume about 1 to 3 mg of fluoride daily
- Soft water usually contains 10 ppm fluoride and hard water contains no fluoride. Of these the correct statements are:
(a) A, B and D
(b) A, B and C
(c) B, C and D
(d) A, B, C and D
Topic in Syllabus: Schemes & Programmes
- It is a set to launch pension scheme for small farmers by ‘Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare’.
- It covers only small and marginal farmers who own less than 2 hectares of land. (while PM-KISAN is for all farmers)
- It aims to improve the life of small and marginal farmers of the country.
- The farmers will have to contribute Rs 100/p.m that seeks to provide minimum fixed monthly pension of Rs. 3000/- on attainment of 60 years.
- It is a voluntary and contributory for farmers in the entry age group of 18 to 40 years..
- The Centre will also contribute an equal amount to the pension fund to be managed by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).
- Farmers can also allow contribution to be made directly from the benefits drawn from the PM-KISAN scheme.
- The spouse is also eligible to get a separate pension of Rs.3000/- upon making separate contributions to the Fund.
- In case of death of the farmer before retirement date, the spouse may continue the scheme by paying the remaining contributions.
- If the spouse does not wish to continue, the total contribution made by the farmer along with interest will be paid to spouse.
- If there is no spouse, then total contribution along with interest will be paid to the nominee.
- If the farmer dies after the retirement date, the spouse will receive 50% of the pension as Family Pension.
- After the death of both the farmer and the spouse, the accumulated corpus shall be credited back to the Pension Fund.
- The beneficiaries may opt voluntarily to exit the Scheme after a minimum period of 5 years of regular contributions.
- On exit, their entire contribution shall be returned by LIC with an interest equivalent to prevailing saving bank rates.
- The initial enrollment to the Scheme is being done through the Common Service Centres in various states.
Consider the following statements with respect to Pradhan Mantri KisanMaan-Dhan Yojana (PM-KMY)
It is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme for the farmers in the entry age group of 18 to 40 years.
Under the scheme, a monthly pension of 3,000 rupees will be provided to the eligible farmers with up to two acres of land-holding on attaining the age of 60 years.
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
Answer : c
Under the PM-KMY, a new Central Sector Scheme, a monthly pension of 3,000 rupees will be provided to the eligible farmers with up to two acres of land-holding on attaining the age of 60years.
It is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme for the farmers in the entry age group of 18 to 40 years.
The farmers will have to make a monthly contribution ranging from 55 to 200 rupees depending on their age of entry in the Pension Fund till they attain the age of 60 years.
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Polity
Sikkim CM assures people of state that Centre will not interfere with Article 371F and also rejected any possibility of merger of Sikkim and Darjeeling hills,
Article 371F of the Constitution, is the result of the agreement in 1975 between the Union of India, the king of Sikkim and the State’s political parties
Article 371F (36th Amendment Act, 1975): To protect the rights and interests of various sections of the population of Sikkim, Parliament may provide for the number of seats in the Assembly to be filled only by candidates from those sections
- Articles 369 through 392 (including some that have been removed) appear in Part XXI of the Constitution, titled ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’.
- Article 370 dealt with ‘Temporary Provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir’ which was read down recently by Presidential order.
- Article 371, Maharashtra and Gujarat: Governor has “special responsibility” to establish “separate development boards” for “Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of Maharashtra”, and Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat.
- Articles 371A through 371J were incorporated subsequently.
- Article 371A (13th Amendment Act, 1962), Nagaland
- Article 371B (22nd Amendment Act, 1969), Assam
- Article 371C (27th Amendment Act, 1971), Manipur
- Article 371D (32nd Amendment Act, 1973, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
- Article 371E: it allows for the establishment of a university in Andhra Pradesh by a law of Parliament. But this is not a “special provision” in the sense of the others in this part.
- Article 371G (53rd Amendment Act, 1986), Mizoram
- Article 371H (55th Amendment Act, 1986), Arunachal Pradesh
- Article 371J (98th Amendment Act, 2012), Karnataka
- Article 371I deals with Goa, but it does not include any provision that can be deemed ‘special’.
All these provisions take into account the special circumstances of individual states, and lay down a wide range of specific safeguards that are deemed important for these states.
In these range of Articles from 371 to 371J, Article 371I, which deals with Goa, stands out in the sense that it does not include any provision that can be deemed “special”. Article 371E, which deals with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, too, is not that “special”.
Article 371A of Nangaland includes which of the following
i) religious or social practices of the Nagas
ii) Naga customary law and procedure
iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law
a) I and ii
b) ii and iii
c) all of the above
Topic in Syllabus: Heritage & Culture
According to the research paper titled ‘Interrogating Indus inscription to unravel their mechanism of meaning conveyance’,the Indus inscriptions can be compared to the structured messages found on stamps, coupons, tokens and currency coins of modern times.
The Indus inscriptions have not been deciphered due to the absence of bilingual texts, extreme brevity of the inscriptions, and ignorance about the language(s) encoded by Indus script.
The majority of the Indus Valley inscriptions were written logo graphically (by using word signs) and not by using phonograms (speech sounds units), claims a recent research paper published in Palgrave Communications, a Nature group journal.
- The paper mainly focuses on understanding how Indus inscriptions conveyed meanings, rather than on deciphering what they conveyed.
- The inscribed seals and tablets were used in some administrative operation that controlled the commercial transactions of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation.
- According to paper, though many ancient scripts use rebus methods to generate new words, the inscriptions found on the Indus seals and tablets have not used rebus as the mechanism to convey meaning.
- The researcher also rejected the popular hypothesis that the seals were inscribed with Proto-Dravidian or Proto-Indo-European names of the seal-owners.
- A common perception among some scholars is that the Indus script is logo-syllabic, where one symbol can be used as a word sign at one time and as a syllable-sign at another.
- This method, where a word-symbol also gets sometimes used only for its sound value, is called the rebus principle.
- g.:The pictures of a honey bee can be combined with a leaf to signify the word “belief” (bee+leaf).
- It is the earliest form of writing known in the Indian subcontinent, developed by the ‘Indus Valley Civilization’.
- It is also known as the Harappan script.
- The origin of this script is poorly understood and it remains undeciphered.
- The languages that the script represents is still unknown and its connection with proper Indian writing systems is uncertain.
- There is no known bilingual inscription to help to decipher the script.
- The earliest known examples of the Indus Script signs, attested on ‘Ravi’ and ‘KotDiji pottery’ was excavated at Harappa.
- It dates back to early Harappan phase (3500-2700 BCE).
- Examples of Indus writing has been found on seals pottery, bronze tools, stoneware bangles, bones, ivory.
- Square stamp seals are the dominant form of Indus writing media.
- The Indus Script was generally written from right to left but there are some exceptions where the writing is bidirectional.
- It combined both word signs and symbols with phonetic value.
- The Indus script has been assigned the ISO 15924 code “Inds”.
The Indus Valley Civilization has not been deciphered yet. Consider the following reasons:
- No knowledge about their language
- Small length of inscriptions
- Absence of bilingual texts
Which among the above is/ are correct reasons?
A. 1 and 2
B. 1 and 3
C. All of the above
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Geography
The next census of India to be conducted in 2021 with March 1, 2021 as the reference date, except for the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The Census 2021 will be conducted in 18 languages out of the 22 scheduled languages (under 8th schedule) and English,while Census 2011 was in 16 of the 18 scheduled languages declared at that time.
- It also will introduce a code directory to streamline the process
- The option of “Other” under the gender category will be changed to “Third Gender”.
- There were roughly 5 lakh people under “other” category in 2011.
- For the first time in the 140 year history of census in India, data is proposed to be collected through a mobile app by enumerators and they will receive an additional payment as an incentive.
- The Census data would be available by the year 2024-25 as the entire process would be conducted digitally and data crunching would be quicker.
Facts about Census of India
- The census of India is carried out once in 10 years(i.e decennial exercise).
- It is carried out by Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India.
- After independence, it is carried out from the year 1951 under the Census of India Act 1948.
Importance of Census
It tells us the demographic data like population, literacy, sex-ratio which helps the government to plan their policy according to the requirements.
Phases in Census
It contains three phases
- House listing: The houses are listed for the Census(will be done from April to September 2020.)
- Enumeration: The data is collected from the household. (will be done from April to September 2020.)
- Revision: Data is documented and is revised. It will be done from March 1 to 5, 2021.
Note: Every citizen is compelled by law to participate in the Census exercise, and denial could lead to criminal activity.
Issue of Caste Data Collection
Earlier in 2018, the Ministry of Home Affairs had declared that the Other Backward Class (OBC) category would be included in the Census 2021.
However, the Registrar-General of India (RGI) has said that only SC/ST will be included as the unreliable nature of caste data collection decreases the credibility of the results. E.g.: A person belonging to the Yadav caste writes Yadu, Yaduvanshi, etc. in the form; there is no standardisation. People sometimes even confuse caste with gotra.
The 2011 caste data, collected as part of the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), is yet to be released by the Centre.
Even a committee formed under former vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, Arvind Panagariya to find a way to publish the 2011 Socio-economic and Caste Census data failed to provide any tangible outcome.
The last caste-based census was conducted by the British in 1931.
- The census provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
- ‘Rig-Veda’ reveals that some kind of population count was maintained during 800-600 BC in India.
- Arthashastr by ‘Kautilya’ written in the 3rd Century BC prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for taxation.
- During the regime of the Mughal king Akbar, the administrative report ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth and many other characteristics.
- A systematic and modern population census, in its present form was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country.
- However, the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
- India’s last census was carried out in 2011 when the country’s population stood at 121 crore. The Indian Census is one of the largest administrative exercises undertaken in the world.
- The caste data is difficult to enumerate as last time when it was collected, we got as many as 40 lakh names of castes. For example, a person belonging to the Yadav caste wrote Yadu, Yaduvanshi, etc. in the form; there is no standardisation. People sometimes confuse caste with gotra
- The Census would restrict itself to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes data.
- The Census was recorded on paper, with the information then scanned and later fed into the database, leading to the publication of various data sets.
- “The digitisation will ensure there is not much delay and most parameters will be available by 2024-25.
- In many countries, census is collected in one day.
Consider below statements regarding census 2021:
- The government is planning to go for digital data collection using Android-based smartphones.
- Census of 2021 might skip counting caste wise data. It is because it is difficult to publish this data as there are a large number of caste in India.
- It will include the 3rd Gender Category for the first time.
Which of the above statements are the features of Census 2021
a. 1 and 2
b. 1 and 3
c. 1 only
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy
- In its third bi-monthly policy statement of the current financial year ( FY- 2019-20), the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has cut the repo rate for the fourth time in a row.
- The MPC slashed repo rate by 35 basis points to 5.40%, the lowest in over nine years.
- The MPC also revised downwards the GDP growth for FY20 from 7% in the June policy to 6.9% in August in the range of 5.8-6.6% for the first half of FY20 and 7.3-7.5% for the second half–with risks somewhat tilted to the downside.
- All this has been done to support the sluggish economic growth and to stimulate aggregate demand.
- The RBI has decided to allow round-the-clock fund transfers through NEFT from December 2019 in order to promote digital transactions.
- Currently, the National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) operated by the RBI as a retail payment system is available for customers from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on all working days with the exception of the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.
- The NEFT system is used for fund transfers up to ₹2 lakh.
- Earlier in its June Monetary Policy, the RBI had done away with charges on fund transfers through RTGS and NEFT routes to boost digital transactions and asked banks to pass on the benefits to customers.
- The Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) is meant for large-value instantaneous fund transfers.
- The RBI also proposed creation of a central payment fraud registry that will track banking fraud. At present, there is a Central Fraud Monitoring Cellof the central bank.
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI):
- It has allowed the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) operated Bharat Bill Payment Service (BBPS) hub toenable payments for all recurrent billers (except prepaid recharges). At present, it is available only for DTH services, electricity, gas, telecom and water bills. Allowing all billers to plug into BBPS would mean that all payment providers will be able to offer customers anytime, anywhere payment services for every biller from their own sites or locations.
- The Bharat bill payment system is a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) conceptualised system driven by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is a one-stop ecosystem for payment of all bills providing an interoperable and accessible “Anytime Anywhere” bill payment service to all customers across India with certainty, reliability and safety of transactions.
- It has multiple modes of payment and provides instant confirmation of payment via an SMS or receipt.
- Currently, RBI has a mechanism in place for banks to report all banking frauds to the Central Fraud Monitoring Cell of the Reserve Bank. The proposed registry extend the platform to all payments operators.
- Payment system companies will be provided access to the registry for near-real time fraud monitoring and the aggregated fraud data will be published to educate customers on emerging risks. A detailed framework in this regard will be put in place by the end of October.
- Risk monitoring and management involving fraudulent activities in digital payments is imperative, considering the massive growth of the industry, including infrastructure, volume and value of transactions.
- For Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs): The central bank has decided to raise a bank’s exposure limit to a single NBFC to 20% of its Tier-I capital from 15% earlier. The hike will enable banks to increase the credit flow to big NBFCs.
- This measure is pertinent at a time when lending activity by many NBFCs have declined significantly, resulting in demand slowdown for a range of items including cars, tractors, white goods among others.
RBI, on behalf of government, issues MSS bonds to mop up extra liquidity from the market. This is same as Open Market Operations(OMO), but has a significant difference. What is it?
a. Money raised from the market by MSS Bond is stored in government’s normal account.
b. Money raised from the market by MSS Bond is stored in a separate account, known as MSS Account, which cannot be used for normal government expenditure.
c. Money is not raised by MSS bonds
d. None of the above
Money raised from the market by MSS Bond is stored in a separate account, known as MSS Account, which cannot be used for normal government expenditure.