Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – 15 May 2021

In Today’s News:

  1. Plea seeking probe into bodies floating in Ganga
  2. ASHA workers
  3. Elephants deaths in India
  4. U.S. Slider Turtles – a threat in Northeast
  5. Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme.

1. Plea seeking probe into bodies floating in Ganga

News Summary

A plea has been moved in Supreme Court seeking the probe into bodies floating on the banks of the Ganga river in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Prelims  GS – Governance/Indian Geography

Ganga basin:
  • Ganga basin is the largest river basin in India in terms of the catchment area, constituting 26% of the country’s landmass (8,61,404 sq. km) and supporting about 43% of its population (448.3 million as per 2001 census).
  • The basin lies between East longitudes 73°02’ and 89°05’ and North latitudes of 21°06’ and 31°21’, covering an area of 1,086,000 sq km, extending over India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
  • About 79% area of the Ganga basin is in India.
  • The basin covers 11 states viz.,
    • Uttarakhand,
    • Uttar Pradesh,
    • Madhya Pradesh,
    • Rajasthan,
    • Haryana,
    • Himachal Pradesh,
    • Chhattisgarh,
    • Jharkhand,
    • Bihar,
    • West Bengal and
    • Delhi.
  • The current focus of the world bank funded National Ganga River Basin Projects (NGRBP) of NMCG is on five major states on the main stem of river Ganga namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and West Bengal.
Source and course of Ganga:
  • Bhagirathi is the source stream of Ganga.
  • It emanates from Gangotri Glacier at Gaumukh at an elevation of 3, 892 m (12,770 feet).
  • Many small streams comprise the headwaters of Ganga.
  • The important among these are Alaknanda, Dhauliganga, Pindar, Mandakini and Bhilangana.
  • At Devprayag, where Alaknanda joins Bhagirathi, the river acquires the name Ganga.
  • It traverses a course of 2525 km before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
  • It has a large number of tributaries joining it during this journey.
National Mission for Clean Ganga:
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG) was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.
  • It acted as the implementation arm of the National Ganga River Basin Authority(NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986.
  • NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 7th October 2016, consequent to the constitution of the National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection, and Management of River Ganga (referred to as National Ganga Council)
  • The aims and objectives of NMCG is to accomplish the mandate of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) of
    • To ensure effective abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach to promote inter-sectoral co-ordination for comprehensive planning and management and
    • To maintain minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.

Click here to view the Courtesy: Official website of NMCG to know more about Ganga and NMCG.

2. ASHA workers

News Summary

ASHA workers in U.P. have raised concerns about their safety during this COVID-19 pandemic as they are indulged in the door-to-door visits in surveillance and monitoring of COVID but they lack proper protective gear and monitoring kits.

Prelims GS – Governance(Health)

  • One of the key components of the National Rural Health Mission is to provide every village in the country with a trained female community health activist ASHA or Accredited Social Health Activist.
  • Selected from the village itself and accountable to it, the ASHA will be trained to work as an interface between the community and the public health system.

Following are the key components of ASHA :

  • ASHA must primarily be a woman resident of the village married/ widowed/ divorced, preferably in the age group of 25 to 45 years.
  • She should be a literate woman with due preference in selection to those who are qualified up to 10 standards wherever they are interested and available in good numbers. This may be relaxed only if no suitable person with this qualification is available.
  • ASHA will be chosen through a rigorous process of selection involving various community groups, self-help groups, Anganwadi Institutions, the Block Nodal officer, District Nodal officer, the village Health Committee and the Gram Sabha.
  • Capacity building of ASHA is being seen as a continuous process. ASHA will have to undergo series of training episodes to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence for performing her spelled out roles.

Mini Insights

Mains GS2 – Governance

Role of ASHA in healthcare:
  • The ASHAs will receive performance-based incentives for promoting universal immunization, referral and escort services for Reproductive & Child Health (RCH) and other healthcare programs, and the construction of household toilets.
  • Empowered with knowledge and a drug kit to deliver first-contact healthcare, every ASHA is expected to be a fountainhead of community participation in public health programs in her village.
  • ASHA will be the first port of call for any health-related demands of deprived sections of the population, especially women and children, who find it difficult to access health services.
  • ASHA will be a health activist in the community who will create awareness on health and its social determinants and mobilize the community towards local health planning and increased utilization and accountability of the existing health services.
  • She would be a promoter of good health practices and will also provide a minimum package of curative care as appropriate and feasible for that level and make timely referrals.
  • ASHA will provide information to the community on determinants of health such as nutrition, basic sanitation & hygienic practices, healthy living and working conditions, information on existing health services, and the need for timely utilization of health & family welfare services.
  • She will counsel women on birth preparedness, the importance of safe delivery, breastfeeding and complementary feeding, immunization, contraception, and prevention of common infections including Reproductive Tract Infection/Sexually Transmitted Infections (RTIs/STIs) and care of the young child.
  • ASHA will mobilize the community and facilitate them in accessing health and health-related services available at the Anganwadi/sub-centre/primary health centers, such as immunization, Ante Natal Check-up (ANC), Post Natal Check-up supplementary nutrition, sanitation, and other services being provided by the government.
  • She will act as a depot older for essential provisions being made available to all habitations like Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORS), Iron Folic Acid Tablet(IFA), chloroquine, Disposable Delivery Kits (DDK), Oral Pills & Condoms, etc.

Click here to view more on ASHA on the official website of the National Health Mission.

3. Elephant Deaths in India

News Summary

According to the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, a total of around 186 elephants were killed in India in the last 10 years after being hit by trains. Assam had the highest deaths of elephants on railway tracks.

Prelims GS – Environment

Project Elephant:
  • PROJECT ELEPHANT was launched by the Government of India in the year 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with the following objectives:
    • 1. To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors
    • 2. To address issues of man-animal conflict
    • 3. Welfare of captive elephants
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change provides financial and technical support to major elephant range states in the country through Project Elephant.

Click here to view the official website.

Mini Insights

Mains GS3 – Environment

Measures taken for the Reduction of Elephant deaths :
  • A Permanent Coordination Committee was constituted between the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) and the MoEFCC for preventing elephant deaths in train accidents.
  • Vegetation is cleared along railway tracks so that a clear view can be established for Loco pilots which will help in the reduction of accidents of elephants.
  • Signage boards were installed at places where elephants’ presence is high to alert the loco pilots.
  • Underpasses or overpasses were set up for the safe passage of elephants.
  • Regular patrolling of vulnerable stretches of railway tracks by the frontline staff of the Forest Department and wildlife watchers are among other initiatives the Ministry has undertaken.
  • Plan BEE” was deployed by Indian Railways to keep the elephants off the railway tracks. It involves setting up devices near tracks, which emit the ‘buzzing’ sound of bees, saving elephants from train accidents.

4. The U.S. Slider turtle

News Summary

US Slider Turtle also known as Red eared slider turtle poses a serious threat in Northeast.

Prelims GS – Environment

The U.S. Slider Turtle:
  • U.S. Slider turtle is also called Red-eared Slider Turtle.
  • Scientific Name: Trachemys Scripta Elegans
  • The red-eared slider turtle derives its name from Red stripes around the part where its ears would be and from its ability to slide quickly off any surface into the water.
  • It is mainly native to the U.S. and Mexico.
  • The main issue is the red-eared slider turtle grows fast and leaves nothing for the native species to eat.
  • This makes it an invasive species and poses a serious threat in the northeast.

5. Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme.

News Summary

The refund rates based on the RoDTEP scheme are expected to be introduced by the end of this month as said by DGFT officials. Once it is introduced it will give a further impetus to the export sector.

Prelims GS – Economic Development

RoDTEP scheme:
  • Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) is a scheme under which a mechanism would be created for reimbursement of taxes/ duties/ levies, at the central, state, and local levels.
  • The refunds under the RoDTEP scheme would be a step towards zero-rating” of exports, along with refunds such as Drawback and IGST.
Salient Features:
  • At present, GST taxes and import/customs duties for inputs required to manufacture exported products are either exempted or refunded.
  • However, certain taxes/duties/levies are outside GST and are not refunded for exports, such as VAT on fuel used in transportation, Mandi tax, Duty on electricity used during manufacturing, etc.
  • These would be covered for reimbursement under the RoDTEP Scheme.
  • The sequence of introduction of the Scheme across sectors, prioritization of the sectors to be covered, degree of benefit to be given on various items within the rates set by the Committee will be decided and notified by the Department of Commerce (DoC).
  • The rebate would be claimed as a percentage of the Freight On Board (FOB) value of exports.
  • A monitoring and audit mechanism, with an Information Technology-based Risk Management System (RMS), would be put in to physically verify the records of the exporters.
  • As and when the rates under the RoDTEP Scheme are announced for a tariff line/ item, the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) benefits on such tariff line/item will be discontinued.

Mini Insights

Mains GS3 – Economic Development

Significance of RoDTEP scheme:
  • RoDTEP scheme is going to give a boost to the domestic industry and Indian exports providing a level playing field for Indian producers in the International market so that domestic taxes/duties are not exported.
  • It will lead to the cost competitiveness of exported products in international markets and better employment opportunities in export-oriented manufacturing industries.
  • In line with the vision of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, various export-oriented industries are being reformed and introduced to better mechanisms so as to increase their productivity, boost exports and contribute to the overall economy.

Click here to view the official PIB release.




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