Argutes

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – 21 October 2021

1. Bhaskarabda: Luni calender

  1. Bhaskarabda, an era counted from the date of the ascension of a 7th-century local ruler, will be added to the Saka and Gregorian in the official calendar of the Assam government.
  2. Bhaskarabda began when Bhaskaravarman was crowned ruler of the Kamrupa kingdom.
  3. He was a contemporary and political ally of northern Indian ruler Harshavardhana.
  4. The themes will be wildlife, plants, culture, cuisine, and other aspects of Assam.
  5. Unlike the Gregorian, where a day starts at midnight, the Assamese calendar begins and ends at sunrise over 24 hours.
  6. While the Gregorian goes by the solar cycle, the Saka and Bhaskarabda use a lunisolar system based on both the phases of the moon and the solar year.
  7. The gap between Bhaskarabda and Gregorian is 593 years.

2. 60-point action plan

From linking birth certificates to citizenship to pushing for jobs while negotiating trade pacts, from promoting a ‘family database design’ to drafting a single environment Act that subsumes all other laws in the sector the Centre has prepared a comprehensive 60-point action plan.

Insights

  1. There is no proof of citizenship in India. Citizenship may be linked to birth certificates through technology and mainstream.
  2. The 60-point action is targeted at specific ministries and departments, they fall under broadly three buckets: leveraging IT and technology for governance, improving the business climate, and upgrading the civil services.

To attract business:

  1. These are mostly directed at the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, and the Niti Aayog
  2. Doing away completely with certain permissions
  3. Reducing the cost of starting a business in 10 sectors and bringing it on a par with Vietnam and Indonesia
  4. Automatic notification of clearances
  5. Single-point access to all government services
  6. Incentives to states for timely land acquisition and forest clearances
  7. One comprehensive Environment Management Act that subsumes various laws in the sector
  8. Mentoring platform for start-ups and skilling programs for emerging sectors.

Use of new technology

  1. These are mostly directed at the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, and the Niti Aayog
  2. streamlining disbursement of scholarships to bridge the digital divide for underprivileged students by developing indigenous tablets and laptops
  3. digitization of land records, there are several actionable inputs for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  4. All schemes/programs of the Government of India should have a digital component.

Administrative reform

  1. Training of officers on various aspects of infrastructure in both the Centre and states
  2. Infusion of expertise and exposure to the latest technologies for higher civil services
  3. Performance-based working,
  4. Clear and specific targets for ministries and departments just like that for public sector undertakings,
  5. Institutional mechanisms for addressing issues of states
  6. Restructuring of departments through government process re-engineering every 10 years.

Miscellaneous

  1. Departments and ministries have been asked to borrow from successes achieved by others.
  2. For instance, the Department of Sports has been asked to adopt the Odisha model for the promotion of sports at a national level
  3. Niti Aayog to target poverty eradication within five years.
  4. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to ab initio plan residential facilities for service staff engaged in construction to prevent the formation of slums.
  5. The plan also recommends using Aadhaar for “bringing together beneficiary oriented schemes of different ministries

3. A New Report: Warning for Africa

Africa’s rare glaciers will disappear in the next two decades because of climate change, a new report by World Meteorological Organization and other agencies, warned amid sweeping forecasts of pain for the continent that contributes least to global warming but will suffer from it most

Environmental Impact

  1. It is a grim reminder that Africa’s 1.3 billion people remain “extremely vulnerable” as the continent warms more, and at a faster rate, than the global average.
  2. And yet Africa’s 54 countries are responsible for less than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Report seizes on the shrinking glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda as symbols of the rapid and widespread changes to come.
  4. Their current retreat rates are higher than the global average.
  5. If this continues, it will lead to total deglaciation by the 2040s.

Economic Impact

  1. Massive displacement, hunger, and increasing climate shocks such as droughts and flooding are in the future.
  2. Estimates of the economic effects of climate change vary across the African continent, but in sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could further lower gross domestic product by up to 3% by 2050,
  3. By 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor people, or those living on less than $1.90 a day
  4. Overall, Africa will need investments of over $3 trillion in mitigation and adaptation by 2030 to implement its national climate plans.
  5. The cost of adapting to climate change in Africa will rise to $50 billion per year by 2050, even assuming the international efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

4. Global Food Security

India is ranked at 71st position in the Global Food Security (GFS) Index 2021 of 113 countries, but the country lags behind its neighbors Pakistan and Sri Lanka in terms of food affordability as per the report released by Economist Impact and Corteva Agriscience.

Highlights of the Report

  1. Pakistan (with 52.6 points) scored better than India (50.2 points) in the category of food affordability.
  2. Sri Lanka was even better with 62.9 points in this category on the GFS Index 2021
  3. Ireland, Australia, the UK, Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, Japan, France, and the US shared the top rank with the overall GFS score in the range of 77.8 and 80 points on the index.
  4. In the overall category, India fared better than Pakistan (75th position), Sri Lanka (77th Position), Nepal (79th position), and Bangladesh (84th position).
  5. But India was way behind China (34th position).
  6. Over the past 10 years, India’s incremental gains in overall food security score were lagging behind that of Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
  7. India’s score improved only by 2.7 points to 57.2 in 2021 from 54.5 in 2012 when compared with Pakistan by 9 points while that of Nepal by 7 points and Bangladesh by 4.7 points.
  8. China’s score improved by 9.6 points to 71.3 in 2021 from 61.7 in 2012, the report
  9. The findings of the GFS Index 2021 also showed that global food security has decreased for the second year in a row after seven years.

About the Report

  1. The GFS Index was designed and constructed by London-based Economist Impact and is sponsored by Corteva Agriscience.
  2. The GFS Index measures the underlying drivers of food security in 113 countries, based on the factors of affordability, availability, quality and safety, and natural resources and resilience.
  3. It considers 58 unique food security indicators including income and economic inequality
  4. Its emphasis is on the attention to systemic gaps and actions needed to accelerate progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030.

5. IMF: Need for Reforms

In the backdrop of the 2021 annual meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) currently being held in Washington, leading experts have suggested the need to review the role of IMF due to changing the economic weight of emerging countries, stressing on completing quota reforms and maintaining data integrity amid the World Bank discontinuing its Ease of Doing Business reports.

  1. Each member’s quota determines its voting power as well as its borrowing capacity.
  2.  US and China should jointly lead the efforts on the transformation of relative quota shares in the IMF and associated reforms in the international monetary system.
  3. China approaches or even surpasses the United States in its share of global GDP at market exchange rates its quota share would have to be of a magnitude similar to that of the United States.
  4. Share of the European Union countries, including that of the UK, will have to reduce significantly.
  5. Share of BRICS countries would have to increase significantly’

Focus on Low Income Groups

  1. According to Article IV consultation reports are utilized by credit rating agencies, impacting the fundraising capacity of countries like India.
  2. Most of the Asian countries including India can now raise funds on their own on the basis of the strength of their forex reserves and do not have to necessarily go to the IMF
  3. Therefore IMF should now really focus on the much lower income groups and those who are not able to go to the market at all to raise funds

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6. International Solar Alliance

The fourth annual meeting of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) is beginning in New Delhi, with the task of planning the rollout of a $1 trillion plan to build solar power plants over the next 10 years.

  1. The aim of the conference is to add operational and technical detail to the ISA’s “One Sun, One World, One Grid” program.
  2. This will include discussions of financial risk management and ways of attracting the private sector capital that will be needed to fill the “viability gap” between member countries’ ambitions and what they can fund themselves.
  3. In the end, the ISA hopes to have a five-year plan setting out what each of the ISA’s 98 member states hopes to achieve.

About ISA

  1. It was launched at COP21 (2015), the UN climate meeting in Paris.
  2. This is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization.
  3. The Headquarters is in India with its Interim Secretariat being set up in Gurugram.
  4. It has 122 sun-belt countries as its prospective member countries and currently boasts a membership of 86 countries globally.
  5. It is the largest grouping of states, after the United Nations.
  6. The sunshine countries lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  7. Vision: Let us together make the sun brighter.
  8. Mission: Every home no matter how far away, will have a light at home.
  9. The Assembly is the apex decision-making body of the ISA. It meets annually at the Ministerial level at the seat of the ISA.
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