Argutes

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – 19 October 2021

1. Resolution of Ordnance Factory Board

In a major decision by the Union Cabinet, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), first set up by the British in 1775, now under the Ministry of Defence, will cease to exist.

Insights

  1. Seven separate companies are planned to be created, each doing a specific manufacturing role.
  2. The existing 41 factories under the OFB will be subsumed under one or the other of the seven new companies, all 100 percent government-owned public sector undertakings (PSU).
  3. The service conditions pension and post-retirement benefits of the employees remain same
  4. The seven new (yet to be named) PSU entities will cover a separate sector.
  5. One will be the ammunition and explosives group which will engage in the production of ammunition of various caliber and explosives.
  6. The vehicles group will engage in the production of defense mobility and combat vehicles such as tanks, trawls, BMP, and mine-protected vehicles.
  7. The weapons and equipment group will engage in the production of small arms, medium and large-caliber guns, and other weapon systems.
  8. The other four companies will be the troop comfort items group, ancillary group, optoelectronics group, and parachute group.
  9. The move will allow these companies autonomy, as well as help, improve accountability and efficiency.
  10. The restructuring is aimed at transforming the ordnance factories into productive and profitable assets; deepen specialization in the product range; enhance competitiveness besides improving quality and cost-efficiency.

2. Smartphone-based e-voting

  1. Telangana has developed the country’s first smartphone-based e-voting solution, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that has rushed the world into all-digital operations.
  2. The solution has been successfully developed and tested while a dry run, in the form of a dummy election, is being conducted in Khammam district.
  3. Though the initial scope was limited to a subset of citizens, the dry run is open for all citizens of the district.
  4. The initiative has been driven by the Telangana State Election Commission (TSEC) and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).

3. Price Stabilisation Fund

The government stated that prices of onion, tomato, and potato are cheaper than last year. It also said Onion prices are being stabilized with buffer stock release and efforts are on to soften tomato and potato rates.

About Price Stabilisation Fund

  1. The Department of Agriculture & Cooperation has approved the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) as a Central Sector Scheme, with a corpus of Rs.500 crores.
  2. It aims to support market interventions for price control of perishable agri-horticultural commodities during 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17.
  3. It promotes direct purchase from farmers /farmers’ associations at farm gate/Mandi.
  4. It aims to maintain a strategic buffer stock that would discourage hoarding and unscrupulous speculation.
  5. It aims to protect consumers by supplying such commodities at reasonable prices through the calibrated release of stock.

Insights

  1. PSF will be used to advance interest-free loans to State Governments/Union Territories and Central agencies to support their working capital and other expenses on procurement and distribution interventions for such commodities.
  2. Initially, the fund is proposed to be used for onion and potato only.
  3. The one time advance to the States/UTs based on their first proposal along with matching funds from the State/UT will form a revolving fund, which can then be used for all future market interventions to control prices of onions and potatoes based on approvals by State level Committee set up explicitly for this purpose.
  4.  The Central Government also intends to share the profits, if any, in the same ratio.
  5. The States could also request Central Agencies to undertake such operations on their behalf to be supported out of the State corpus.
  6. Additionally, the Centre can also request the Central Agencies like SFAC, NAFED, etc. to undertake price control operations for onion and potato.

Funds

  1. The Price Stabilization Fund will be managed centrally by a Price Stabilization Fund Management Committee (PSFMC) which will approve all proposals from State Governments and Central Agencies.
  2. The PSF will be maintained in a Central Corpus Fund account to be opened by Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC), which will act as Fund Manager.
  3. Procurement of these commodities will be undertaken directly from farmers or farmers’ organizations at farm gate/mandi and made available at a more reasonable price to the consumers.

4. World Energy Outlook Report

Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released the World Energy Outlook (WEO) Report 2021. It is published every year, the WEO provides critical analysis and insights on trends in energy demand and supply.

Highlights

Increased Investment in Energy Sector:

    • Global energy investment is expected to rebound in 2021 and increase 10% year on year to around USD 1.9 trillion.
    • Most of this investment will flow towards power and end-use sectors, shifting out of traditional fossil fuel production.
    • The scenario is perfectly aligned with the projection that global energy demand will rise 4.6% year-on-year in 2021, offsetting its contraction in 2020.

Renewable Energy:

    • Renewable power will have the largest share – around 70% of the total will be spent on new power generation capacity.
    • There will be a substantial gain of renewable energy as the future energy outlook has been dependent on technological development, a well-established supply chain, and demand from consumers for carbon-neutral electricity.

Fossil Fuels:

    • Upstream (production and exploration) investment in oil is expected to grow 10%. This expansion in fossil fuels was planned with novel technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and bioenergy CCS, which are yet to attain commercial success.
    • The increment of coal-fired power in 2020, mostly driven by China, is indicating that coal is down but not yet out.

Increased Emissions:

    • The above positive scenarios will still not deter the increase in carbon dioxide emission, after a contraction in 2020 mainly due to economic slowdown induced by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
    • Global emission is set to grow by 1.5 billion tonnes in 2021.
    • Many developing nations’ supporting policy and regulatory frameworks are not yet aligned with long-term net-zero goals.
    • Net-zero emissions refer to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions are taken out of the atmosphere.
    • In many Emerging Market and Developing Economies (EMDEs), investment in renewables was hit harder by Covid-19 than in developed nations – and now many EMDEs have prioritized coal and oil in recovery plans.

Reasons for Increased Emissions:

    • The emerging market is almost 70% responsible for demand growth and India plays an important part in this block.
    • China is showing a tremendous expansion in coal-based power production — their coal consumption in December 2020 was a historic high — though the country has a commendable renewable growth.
    • The responsibility-share of developed nations should not be undermined. Their in-country growth of emission is moderate but their exported emission is of concern.
    • Australia’s exported emission through coal is double its domestic emission.
    • Although the US has shown renewed commitment to the multilateral United Nations system for tackling climate change by re-joining the Paris agreement.
    • Its fascination with cheap shale gas is creating an investment distortion and adversely affecting the sustainability of developmental pathways of countries like India.

 

5. International Energy Agency invites India

International Energy Agency (IEA) has invited India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer, to become its full-time member – a proposal if accepted will require New Delhi to raise strategic oil reserves to 90 days requirement.

Insights

  1. India in March 2017 became an associate member of the Paris-based body which advises industrialized nations on energy policies.
  2. Earlier, IEA members and India agreed to enter into a strategic partnership, strengthening their collaboration across a range of vital areas including energy security and clean energy transition.
  3. On its website, IEA states that “India is becoming increasingly influential in global energy trends.”Its in-depth report on India’s energy policies, which was released in January 2020, states that the country’s demand for energy is set to grow rapidly in the coming decades, with electricity use set to increase particularly fast.
  4. The country’s reliance on fuel imports makes further improving energy security a key priority for the Indian economy.
  5. According to IEA, a member country must maintain
    • Crude oil and/or product reserves equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports, to which the government has immediate access and could be used to address disruptions to the global oil supply.
    • India’s current strategic oil reserves equal 9.5 days of its requirement.
    • Also, a member of IEA has to show a demand restraint program to reduce national oil consumption by up to 10%.

International Energy Agency

  1. It is an autonomous Intergovernmental Organisation established in 1974 in Paris, France.
  2. IEA mainly focuses on its energy policies which include economic development, energy security, and environmental protection. These policies are also known as the 3 E’s of IEA.
  3. India became an Associate member of IEA in March 2017 but it was in engagement with IEA long before its association with the organization.
  4. Recently, India has inked a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the IEA to strengthen cooperation in global energy security, stability, and sustainability.
  5. IEA Clean Coal Centre is dedicated to providing independent information and analysis on how coal can become a cleaner source of energy, compatible with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Reports:

  1. World Energy Investment Report, World Energy Outlook Report, Global Energy Review.
  2. Recently, it has released the India Energy Outlook 2021 Report and Net Zero by 2050, World’s first comprehensive energy roadmap.

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