Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 27-03-2021


Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 27-03-2021


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  1. Healthcare and Medicine - US becomes first with 3 crore COVID-19 cases - The United States has become the first country to report over three crore coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University tracker. The number of coronavirus-related deaths in US now stands at over 5.45 lakh. The total no. of dead now exceeds Americans who died in the two world wars, and in the Vietnam war. Nearly one-fourth of Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while about 13% of the population is fully vaccinated. The United States is averaging nearly 54,000 new COVID-19 cases a day over the past seven days, a slight increase of the previous week's average of about 53,000 cases a day, according to the CDC. A decline in hospital admissions nationally has also begun to level off over the past two weeks. Former President Trump's handling of the pandemic in its early months led to an explosion in cases, and his reluctance to accept masking too made his followers reject the same.
  2. World Politics - North Korea test-fires missiles in challenge to Biden - North Korea's Kim regime has test-fired several missiles, two of which were fired on March 21st, 2021, confirmed the White House on March 23, 2021. The missile tests come days after a visit to the region by the top US defense and diplomatic officials. The tests are the first by North Korea after Joe Biden took over the President of the United States in January 2021. It is being seen as North Korea's first challenge to the Biden administration. The missiles that were test-fired were short-range, non-ballistic missile systems that do not fall under UN security council resolutions banning more threatening weapons. Former President Trump had tried 'summitry diplomacy' with North Korea, expecting a quick breakthrough and normalisation of relations, which never happened. President Biden has his task cut out.
  3. Constitution and Law - NCAHP Bill, 2021 - The Lok Sabha cleared the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, 2021. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha earlier. It seeks to regulate and standardise the education and practice of allied and healthcare professionals. It defines ‘allied health professional’ as an associate, technician, or technologist trained to support the diagnosis and treatment of any illness, disease, injury, or impairment. Such a professional should have obtained a diploma or degree under this Bill. A ‘healthcare professional’ includes a scientist, therapist, or any other professional who studies, advises, research, supervises, or provides preventive, curative, rehabilitative, therapeutic, or promotional health services. Such a professional should have obtained a degree under this Bill. The Bill specifies certain categories of allied and healthcare professions as recognised categories. These include life science professionals, trauma and burn care professionals, surgical and anaesthesia related technology professionals, physiotherapists, and nutrition science professionals. The Bill sets up the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions. It will frame policies and standards for regulating education and practice, create and maintain an online Central Register of all registered professionals, and providing for a uniform entrance and exit examination, among others.  
  4. World Economy - Suez Canal blockage - The Suez Canal, a critical shipping artery that connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas through Egypt, was blocked after a large cargo ship 'Ever Given' ran aground while passing through it, bringing traffic on the busy trade route to a halt. All crew members of the ship EVER GIVEN are Indians. A human-made waterway, the Suez Canal is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, carrying over 12% of world trade by volume. Built in 1869, it provides a major shortcut for ships moving between Europe and Asia, who before its construction had to sail around Africa to complete the same journey. The 150-year-old canal was controlled by British and French interests in its initial years but was nationalised in 1956 by Egypt’s then leader Gamal Abdel Nasser (aeading to a war). Over the years, the canal has been widened and deepened. In 2015, Egypt announced plans to further expand the Suez Canal, aiming to reduce waiting times and double the number of ships that can use the canal daily by 2023. The huge size of the stuck ship made refloating a very difficult exercise.
  5. Indian Politics - Covid Update - India has reported more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases in a day for the first time in 2021. The country reported more than 62,000 positive cases on Friday, while just ten days ago, this daily count of cases was less than 30,000. Last time, it had taken 23 days for India to move from 30,000 cases a day to 60,000. And, at that time, in July and August 2020, there were far greater number of susceptible people who could have been infected. After infecting a critical proportion of the population, the spread of the epidemic is expected to slow down. This critical proportion is not necessarily 50 per cent. The slowdown can occur even after 30 or 40 per cent of the population has been infected. This is because of the corresponding reduction in the number of uninfected people who can potentially get infected. Till now, the second wave has been powered primarily by Maharashtra. On Friday (26-03-2021), Gujarat and Punjab also notched up their highest single-day numbers ever, but their previous peaks were one-tenth that of Maharashtra. With more and more people getting vaccinated, and a large proportion having already been infected, the expectation is that the second wave would last for a shorter period of time than the first.
  6. Governance and Institutions - CCI orders probe into WhatsApp's privacy policy - The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered a probe into WhatsApp's updated privacy policy, warning about its possible "exploitative as well as exclusionary effects". A detailed investigation is required to ascertain the extent, scope and impact of data-sharing through involuntary consent of users, the CCI said. The CCI has sought the report from the Director General in 60 days. CCI’s harsh stance comes close on the heels of the objections raised by the IT ministry on the proposed privacy update that, among other things, seeks to share business communication of WhatsApp users with parent Facebook. CCI expressed displeasure on the development, especially the fact that users have not been given an ‘opt-out’ option from the update as was given earlier. It said that WhatsApp may be taking the benefit of its dominant position in the instant messaging business to initiate such a move where users need to accept the update by May 15.
  7. World Economy - Chinese burn Nike shoes amid boycott - People in China are burning their Nike shoes as the brand faces a boycott over its past comments about labour conditions in Xinjiang. People have been posting videos on social media. Earlier this week, China denied allegations of human rights abuses by its officials in Xinjiang, home to Muslim Uighurs, after the EU, US, Britain and Canada imposed sanctions. The strong nationalist twist given by Xi Jinping's government has led to a reaction from ordinary Han Chinese, who feel that their country is receiving the wrong treatment globally. Reports indicate, however, that millions of Uighur Muslims have been incarcerated across multiple concentration camps, and families destroyed.
  8. Indian Economy - Sell out or we shut you down - Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced that Air India will be 100% disinvested. "Choice isn't between disinvestment and non-disinvestment, it's between disinvestment and closing down. Air India is a first-rate asset but has an accumulated debt of ₹60,000 crore," Puri stated. He further said that bids have to come in within 64 days, adding, "This time the government is determined." However, it would be tough to find buyers for a loss-making asset like Air India. Earlier attempts have failed.
  9. Social Issues - Smartphones gained traction - India's online smartphone market reached its highest ever share at 45% in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Counterpoint Research. It registered a growth of 7% year-on-year. Flipkart had the highest market share of 48% among online platforms, followed by Amazon at 44% share. Among brands, Xiaomi led with 40% market share, followed by Samsung at 19%.
  10. World Politics - Big Tech on politics and riots - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the US Congress that former President Donald Trump "should be responsible" for his statement before the January 6 Capitol riot. This comes after a US Representative accused Facebook of "supercharging" false claims of voting fraud and stolen elections that led to the riot. "We did our part to secure the integrity of...election," Zuckerberg added. Meanwhile, Twitter CEO took some responsibility for US Capitol riot. CEO Jack Dorsey was the only one who said "yes" at the US Congressional hearing when asked if his platform bore some responsibility for spreading misinformation that led to the Capitol riot. While Google CEO Sundar Pichai deflected blame by saying it was a "complex question", Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company was responsible for building "effective systems".
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    • 1. ECONOMY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper)
Making India a global export hub
  1. Stagnation in merchandise exports: In the last decade (2011-200, India’s exports did not perform well when compared to its full potential. They barely grew at all, stagnating at just $300 billion a year figure. Services exports is a different story.
  2. General trends: Since 2011, India’s exports were hovering around $300 billion only. During the same period, India’s share in world merchandise exports has been just 1.5-1.7 per cent. The share of exports as percentage of GDP is also not so encouraging which reduced from 17 % in 2011 to 12.4 % in 2018.   Hence the new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) has to address several issues with respect to promotion of exports.
  3. Existing FTP and issues: The existing FTP incentivises exports through Merchandise Exports from India scheme (MEIS) and the Export Promotion Capital Goods scheme (EPCG). Under MEIS, exporters receive duty credit scrip for a percentage of the value of goods exported which can be used for payment of different taxes and duties. In 2019, the WTO dispute panel ruled that MEIS violates WTO rules and hence Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP) replaced it. In RoDTEP, taxes and duties- mandi tax, VAT, coal cess, excise duty on fuel- was refunded but it largely benefited the textile sector than any other sector. EPCG under which capital goods are imported at concessional or zero import duty has to be overhauled to become WTO compatible.
  4. Other issues in India’s trade: In order to promote local manufacturing in potential sectors like mobile, pharma and textiles, Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme was announced. Under this, manufacturers will be incentivised by the government on incremental sale of goods based on certain eligibility criteria for five years. This initiative is taken at right time when MNCs were moving out of China but India was not able to grasp the opportunity due to multiple factors. This includes cost and quality of power, high logistics cost, low labour productivity, insufficient labour reforms and low R&D expenditure.
  5. Ameliorative steps: India should interlink its new FTP with FDI and industrial policies to make it as a global export hub which will also help India to become an integral part of global value chain (GVC). The SEZs can be set up in sectors identified under the PLI scheme for improving the manufacturing infrastructure. The new FTP should explore the under-tapped markets like Africa by reviving ties with them through trade and investment. The FTP should also find ways for increasing people-to-people cooperation and providing technical support to exporters for understanding the legal and business environment. More emphasis must be given to enhance trade relations with neighbouring countries- Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and Act East policy should be further strengthened. India should pave way for meaningful negotiation with the EU for free trade agreement (FTA).
  6. More: The import tariffs for several product categories have been raised since 2018 for achieving the goal of self sufficiency. Though these measures were taken to develop domestic capabilities but such protection measures should be accompanied with a sunset clause. The government should gradually phase out of import tariff especially for strategic partners. The economy of a country cannot grow without enhancing its export performance. Hence policymakers must help India to attract MNCs and at the same time they need to strengthen domestic manufacturers to make India a global export hub.
  7. The prosperity link: More exports will mean more local manufacturing, and hence more jobs. Without a robust exports engine, creating more formal sector jobs is not possible.
  • Knowledge centre:
  1. China's exports engine - The top exports of China are Broadcasting Equipment ($208B), Computers ($141B), Integrated Circuits ($108B), Office Machine Parts ($82.7B), and Telephones ($54.8B), exporting mostly to United States ($429B), Hong Kong ($268B), Japan ($152B), South Korea ($108B), and Germany ($96.9B).
  2. India's exports engine: India's major exports included petroleum products, gems and jewelry, and drug formulations. Additionally, the value of the various types of machinery India exported was valued at over 29 billion U.S. dollars. Other major exports include spices, tea, coffee, tobacco in agriculture, along with iron and steel. India's share in global merchandise exports is 1.67 per cent, with a low share in top globally traded items. In services, it enjoys 3.54 per cent share. China was the largest trade partner (imports + exports) to India, in 2020.


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    • 2. ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper
Failure of first Inter-State tiger relocation project
  • Bringing her back: Sundari, a tigress shifted as part of India’s first inter-state translocation project in 2018 from Madhya Pradesh (MP) to Odisha, was relocated back to MP.
  • Tiger Relocation Project: This project was initiated in 2018. As part of this, two big cats were relocated to Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha, to shore up the tiger population in the state: a male (Mahavir) from Kanha Tiger Reserve and a female (Sundari) from Bandhavgarh from Madhya Pradesh. Both were selected for the translocation project as per the NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) guidelines and in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India and the Government of India. The relocation was meant to serve two purposes: (i) reducing tiger population in areas with excess tigers to reduce territorial disputes, and (ii) reintroduce tigers in areas where the population has considerably reduced due to various reasons.
  • Detais: The project was estimated with a budget of Rs 19 crore. It was started under the project of “augmentation and recovery of tiger population in Satkosia tiger reserve”. Six tigers (three pairs) from different reserves of Madhya Pradesh were to be sent to Odisha under the project.
  • Why Satkosia Tiger Reserve chosen: It encompasses an area of around 960 sq km, the Satkosia Tiger Reserve spreads across four districts and has as its core area 523 sq km. According to NTCA, Satkosia falls under reserves where “there is a potential for increasing tiger populations”. It was declared as a Tiger Reserve in 2007, Satkosia had a population of 12 tigers then. The numbers reduced to two in 2018. The purpose of the relocation was thus to repopulate tigers in the reserve areas.
  • Outcome: The project ran into trouble within weeks of initiation. The arrival of the tigers was followed by severe protests by villagers living on the fringes of the reserve. Forest department officials were attacked and their offices burnt down by the villagers. This reaction was the outcome of displacing tribals from Raigoda in the core area to Saruali on the outskirts of the reserve. The villagers feared the big cats would endanger their livelihoods, lives and livestocks. They also alleged that they were not consulted or informed prior to the translocation. Within months of the translocation, Mahavir was found dead. A field inspection report by the NTCA stated that Mahavir’s death took place due to poaching. Earlier, a woman was allegedly mauled to death by Sundari and another person was also killed. Soon, Sundari was tranquilised and shifted to an enclosure at Raigoda. Subsequently, the project was suspended by NTCA.
  • Reasons for likely failure: A major reason for the failure was the lack of confidence and trust building between the forest department and the villagers. The translocation was done in haste. The field staff and tiger reserve management were not prepared. Capacity for tiger monitoring was poor. The local communities were not taken into confidence nor conveyed the benefits from tourism that tigers could bring them. While Mahavir had settled down after initial exploration of the forest area, Sundari was venturing into human habitation. Protection was not up to the mark and the only undisturbed, prey rich habitat was already occupied by the old resident tigress. The already existing female tigress in the core area did not allow the presence of another tigress and chased her away. This caused Sundari to occupy human dominated, disturbed areas.


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    • 3. FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper)

50 years after independence, Bangladesh rises
  • As Bangladesh marks the 50th anniversary of its declaration of independence from Pakistan, there is admiration for its successful economic and social transformation. Less noted are the profound geopolitical consequences of Bangladesh’s economic rise, including a shift in South Asia’s center of economic gravity to the east and the reintegration of an eastern subcontinent that was once divided by animosities and barely penetrable borders.
  • Bangladesh is now on the cusp of a second liberation — one that would end its relative isolation and allow Dhaka to play a stronger role in the region and beyond, seeking new maritime possibilities in the Indo-Pacific.
  • History:
  1. As it stepped out into the world in 1971 amid a bloody independence war with Pakistan, few in the world gave it a chance to survive, let alone thrive.
  2. For decades, it was one of the world’s most destitute countries, synonymous with famine, deprivation, and disease. But sustained high growth rates in the last few years have accelerated Bangladesh’s economic development.
  3. The country is on a firm trajectory to graduate out of the category of least developed countries by 2026 and likely to jump into the 25 largest economies worldwide by 2030. International development institutions praise Dhaka’s success in reducing poverty, improving life expectancy, enhancing literacy rates, and empowering women.
  • Geopolitical strength:
  1. The recognition of Bangladesh’s economic transformation is not, however, accompanied by an appreciation of its growing geopolitical significance.
  2. For too long, South Asian geopolitics' focus has been entirely on India and Pakistan. The India-Pakistan academic establishment, media commentariat, and think-tank industry—myopically focused on the tick-tock between New Delhi and Islamabad over Kashmir, nuclear weapons, terrorism, and Afghanistan—sucks attention away from the rest of the region.
  3. Even a cursory look suggests that each of the other states of the subcontinent are gaining in their strategic importance.
  4. That includes the smaller ones: Sri Lanka and the Maldives, sitting astride the sea lanes in the heart of the Indian Ocean, are objects of great interest to the major maritime powers—including India, China, Japan, and the United States. Nepal and Bhutan, nestling in the Himalayas as a long cordon between China and India, are theaters for the intensifying geopolitical competition between Beijing and Delhi.
  • Size matter: Bangladesh’s geopolitical significance is not least a function of its size. Its population of nearly 170 million is the eighth-largest in the world. The Bangladeshi diaspora is growing as well, currently standing at about 8 million. Besides a large community in the Gulf Arab states, the diaspora is also growing in the English-speaking world.
  • Geography: Bangladesh’s geographic proximity to Nepal and Bhutan in the north, China in the northeast, and Burma in the southeast make it an attractive partner to all of them. For India, Bangladesh has in recent years emerged as its most important neighbor in the subcontinent—with strengthening strategic, political, and economic ties. Beyond its region, Dhaka is also a major contributor of forces for international peacekeeping. Bangladesh has become an exporting nation—mainly on the back of its textile industry, which generated $30 billion in exports in 2019. The country is the second-largest manufacturer of ready-made apparel after China and exports to more than 150 countries.
  • Birth pangs: The geopolitics of Bangladesh, the former East Pakistan, began with its very birth. In seceding from Pakistan only 25 years after the creation of Pakistan in the name of religion, Bangladesh is the biggest testimony to the enduring truth that religion can’t peacefully unify a nation. Although Islam continues to play an important role in the politics of Bangladesh, the country’s religious moderation—and success in controlling home-grown Islamist movements after a spate of high-profile terrorist attacks—remains an important political virtue in the non-Western world. Bangladesh’s special location and political character would not have amounted to much if the nation had not made itself an economic success. To understand the scale of Bangladesh’s economic transformation relative to Pakistan and India, let us consider two important facts.
  • Knowledge centre:
  1. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman - Mujib was the son of a middle-class landowner, and studied law and political science at the Universities of Calcutta and Dacca (Dhaka). He began his formal political career in 1949 as a cofounder of the Awami League. The league advocated political autonomy for East Pakistan, the detached eastern part of Pakistan. Mujib’s arrest in the late 1960s incited mob violence that eroded the Pakistani president’s authority in East Pakistan. In the elections of December 1970, Mujib’s Awami League secured a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, and Mujib demanded independence for East Pakistan. Troops from West Pakistan were sent to regain control of the eastern province but were defeated with the help of India. East Pakistan, renamed Bangladesh, was proclaimed an independent republic in 1971, and in January 1972 Mujib, recently released from prison, became the country’s first prime minister. He, along with most of his family, was killed in a coup d’état just seven months later. His daughter, Sheikh Hasina Wazed, who was out of the country at the time of the overthrow, served as prime minister of Bangladesh (1996–2001; 2009– ).A left-wing insurgency from 1972 to 1975 is widely held responsible for creating the conditions that led up to the assassination.
  2. Sheikh Hasina Wajed - Sheikh Hasina is the 10th Prime Minister of Bangladesh, having held the office since January 2009. She is the daughter of Bangladesh's first President and founding Father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. She served as Opposition Leader from 1986 to 1990, and 1991 to 1995, then as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2001. She is the leader of Bangladesh Awami League (AL) since 1981. In January 2014, she became Prime Minister for a third term in an unopposed election, as it was boycotted by the Opposition, and criticised by international observers. She won a fourth term in December 2018. Under her tenure as Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Bangladesh has experienced democratic backsliding, coupled with some economic rejuvenation on the back of textiles exports.
  3. Begum Khaleda Zia - Khaleda Zia is a Bangladeshi politician who was the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996, and again from 2001 to 2006. She was the first woman in the country's history and second in the Muslim majority countries (after Benazir Bhutto) to head a democratic government as prime minister. She was the wife of a former President of Bangladesh Ziaur Rahman. She heads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which was founded by Rahman in the late 1970s. After a military coup in 1982, led by Army Chief General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, Zia helped lead the movement for democracy until the fall of Ershad in 1990. She became the prime minister following the BNP party win in the 1991 general election. Since the 1980s, Zia's chief rival has been Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina. Since 1991, they have been the only two serving as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. In February 2018, Zia was jailed for a total of 17 years for corruption cases. In March 2020, she was released for six months on humanitarian grounds with conditions.

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    • 4. GOVERNMENT SCHEMES (Prelims, GS Paper 2, Essay paper)

Anti-corruption strategies
  1. Lokpal exists: The Lokpal of India organized a Webinar on 'Bringing Synergies in Anti-Corruption Strategies’.
  2. Points to note: Corruption can be defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can impact a nation’s development in various ways. The political costs of corruption are manifested in weakened public trust in political institutions, reduced political participation, perversion of the electoral process, restricted political choices available to citizens and loss of legitimacy of the democratic system. Corruption reduces economic efficiency by misallocation of resources in favour of rent seeking activities, increasing the cost of public transactions, acting as an additional tax on business thereby reducing investment, reducing genuine business competition.
  3. Rent seeking: It is a concept in public choice theory as well as in economics, that involves seeking to increase one's share of existing wealth without creating new wealth. It results in reduced economic efficiency through misallocation of resources, reduced wealth-creation, lost government revenue, heightened income inequality, and potential national decline.
  4. Social and environmental costs: Corruption distorts the value systems and wrongly attaches elevated status to occupations that have rent seeking opportunities. This results in a disillusioned public, a weak civil society, which attracts unscrupulous leaders to political life. Environmentally devastating projects are given preference in funding, because they are easy targets for siphoning off public money into private pockets.
  5. Issues of national security: Corruption within security agencies can lead to a threat to national security, including through distortion of procurement, recruitment of ineligible persons, providing an easy route for smuggling of weapons and terrorist elements into the country and money laundering.
  6. Legal framework for fighting corruption: The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 provides for penalties in relation to corruption by public servants and also for those who are involved in the abetment of an act of corruption. Amendment of 2018 criminalised both bribe-taking by public servants as well as bribe giving by any person. The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 aims to prevent instances of money laundering and prohibits use of the 'proceeds of crime' in India. The offence of money laundering prescribes strict punishment, including imprisonment of up to 10 years and the attachment of property of accused persons (even at a preliminary stage of investigation and not necessarily after conviction). The Companies Act, 2013 provides for corporate governance and prevention of corruption and fraud in the corporate sector. The term 'fraud' has been given a broad definition and is a criminal offence under the Companies Act. In cases involving fraud specifically, the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) has been set up under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which is responsible for dealing with white collar crimes and offences in companies. The SFIO conducts investigation under the provisions of the Companies Act. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 sets out provisions which can be interpreted to cover bribery and fraud matters, including offences relating to criminal breach of trust and cheating. The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 regulates the acceptance and use of foreign contributions and hospitality by individuals and corporations. Prior registration or prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs is required for receipt of foreign contributions and in the absence of such registration or approval, receipt of foreign contributions may be considered illegal.
  7. Regulatory framework: The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides for an establishment of an ombudsman for the central and state governments (Lokpal and Lokayuktas, respectively). These bodies are required to act independently from the government and have been empowered to investigate allegations of corruption against public servants, which include the prime minister and other ministers. The Central Vigilance Commission though created in 1964, became an independent statutory body only in 2003 by an Act of Parliament. Its mandate is to oversee the vigilance administration and to advise and assist the executive in matters relating to corruption.
  8. Lokpal and Lokayukta: The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States. The Bill was passed in 2013 in both the Houses of Parliament and came into force on 16th January 2014. These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status. They perform the function of an "ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters. The term Lokpal and Lokayukta were coined by Dr L. M. Singhvi.
  9. Summary: India needs to strengthen oversight institutions to ensure resources reach those most in need. Anti-corruption authorities and oversight institutions must have sufficient funds, resources and independence to perform their duties. It is crucial to publish relevant data and guarantee access to information to ensure the public receives easy, accessible, timely and meaningful information.


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    • 5. POLITY AND CONSTITUTION (Prelims, GS Paper 2, GS Paper 3)
Job crunch and growing nativism
  • Sons of the soil policy: The Haryana government passed a legislation in Feb. 2021 that mandates companies in Haryana to provide jobs to local Haryanvis first. Similar legislations by other states reflect a rising trend of subnationalism in the States of India which call for course corrections.
  • Need for Haryana’s legislation: The jobs situation in Haryana is staggeringly dismal. The unemployment rate there is the highest of all States in India. A whopping 80% of women in Haryana who want to work cannot find a job. More than half of all graduates in Haryana are jobless. Politically, 11 out of the 18 million voters of Haryana do not have a regular job.When such a vast majority of adults are jobless, it inevitably leads to social revolutions and political upheavals. Given this, Haryana government chose to reserve the few available jobs for its own voters.
  • Concerns: Many States in India have embarked on this nativism adventure. Jharkhand too approved a similar legislation to reserve jobs for Jharkhand residents. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu recently announced a similar proposal in its manifesto for the upcoming Assembly elections. The objective is to protect the interests of the vast number of their jobless locals. But such policies have attracted criticisms as it is against the liberal idea of a free economy. Focusing on creating more jobs, and not on reserving the few available ones, is said to be a better approach. But, it is to be understood that creation of new jobs is not entirely in the control of State governments. It is a complex interplay of multitude of factors.
  • How states create jobs: Job creation is obviously an outcome of the performance of the larger economy. The Chief Minister of a State in India has limited control over the management of the larger economy. A State, thereby, aims at attracting new investors and businesses that can create jobs. In that case, a firm, for its expansion, would look for - abundant high quality skilled and unskilled labour, land at affordable prices, uninterrupted supply of electricity, water, other such ‘ease of business’ facilities etc. State governments in India can theoretically compete with each other on these parameters to attract a firm to set up operations in their State. Further, any tax advantages that a particular State can provide vis-à-vis others will increase its attractiveness.
  • Challenges: A poorer State can compete only in very few of the above parameters against a richer State. An elected State government can certainly, during its five-year tenure, attempt to provide high quality local infrastructure. State governments may also have the ability to provide land at affordable prices or for free. The availability of skilled local labour is a function of many decades of social progress of the State. It cannot be retooled immediately. After the introduction of the GST, State governments have particularly lost their fiscal autonomy. They have no powers to provide any tax concessions to businesses.
  • The ‘3-3-3’ phenomenon: The ‘3-3-3’ phenomenon is already evident in India’s increasing economic divergence among its States. The ‘3-3-3’ effect points to the fact that -
  1. The three richest large States (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) are three times richer than the three poorest large States (Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh), in per-capita income.
  2. This is an increase from the 1.4 times in 1970.
  3. This gap between the richer and poorer States in India is only widening rapidly and not narrowing.
  4. The increasing gap is due to the agglomeration impact of modern economic development paradigms.
  • Implications: In effect, there is the absence of a level playing field among states and lack of fiscal autonomy. Given this, it is difficult for the developing states to attract new investments and create new jobs. There is clearly a widening inter-State inequality with a ‘rich States get richer’ economic development model. Also, there is an impending demographic disaster and shrinking fiscal autonomy for elected State governments. A combination of these factors would inevitably propagate nativistic sub-nationalism among the States of India.
  • Summary: India as a country needs to focus on creating crores of well-paying, formal sector jobs. And that's possible only in manufacturing. No such vision exists as on date. The focus of existing policies is on GDP growth or manufacturing sector growth, but not jobs growth. Till that happens, nativism will rule the roost.


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    • 6. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Prelims, Various GS Papers)
  • A new story emerged: Over the course of the pandemic a fundamentally new vaccine technology has come into its own. When the first, spectacularly positive results from phase 3 trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech mrna vaccine were released on November 9th 2020, they did not just offer a pandemic exit strategy. They also showed, as did the results of the similar vaccine made by Moderna, that the long process through which science has abstracted biological mechanisms from their fleshy and fibrous substrates has reached a new level. Medicine had begun to look like programming.
  • Messy: For a long time vaccine production was an often messy and sometimes disgusting business. The polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk in the 1950s was made in vats of minced kidneys, a process which required thousands of rhesus monkeys to be farmed and killed. In the 1968 flu pandemic Maurice Hilleman, and American virologist, got through chicken eggs by the tonne as he grew 9m vaccine doses in their yolks in just four months.
  • Messier: Though the chicken-egg method is still used for flu vaccines today, later vaccine-makers worked out how to grow soups of individual vaccine producing cells—cell cultures—in vats large enough to supply what was needed to control all sorts of other diseases. Doing so made things safer as well as easier. The polio vaccines made from viruses grown in minced monkey kidneys also contained a somewhat dodgy looking virus, now known as SV-40, that was not detected until it had been injected into tens of millions of people. Had it been carcinogenic—there is no evidence that it was, though some debate on the matter continues—it would have been a disaster to make a nuclear meltdown look small-bore.
  • Message being sent: But the manufacturing systems that are being used to make the vaccines against covid-19 currently being administered at a rate of millions per day are something else again. They do not produce weakened versions of the virus being vaccinated against, like those used in flu jabs and later versions of the polio vaccine. They do not even produce specific antigens. Instead they just send a message: the genetic sequence which describes the sars-cov-2 spike protein. When presented as messenger rna, or mrna, this message gets cells to produce the protein just as they would if they were infected by the virus. That gives the immune system a risk-free preview of what infection would look like, allowing it to develop its response ahead of time.
  • Two ways to send the message: The new vaccines deliver their message in two different ways. In the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson&Johnson and Sputnik V vaccines it is contained in a protein shell derived from an adenovirus. Cells are engineered to make adenovirus particles which have a dna version of the sequence that describes the spike protein nestled inside them. The particles they produce are then harvested to make vaccine. The adenovirus gets the dna into the vaccinee’s cells; the cells transcribe the dna into mrna which they then use to make spike proteins.
  1. Harvesting virus from a cell culture is hardly a new form of vaccine-making. But the adenovirus, as used in this system, is not really the vaccine. It is not there to produce an immune response to itself. It is the platform which allows the dna within to get into cells and set about producing antigen there.
  2. An important part of this is that the message in the dna is independent of the particles into which it is packed and of the cultured cells that do the packing. The same manufacturing infrastructure—the same recipe for growth medium, easily modified versions of the cells, identical protocols—could be used to load a different dna sequence into particles which would look just the same. The system is not an interconnected whole, as biological systems are in nature. It has been rendered modular.
  3. This modularity is helping vaccine companies produce second-generation jabs that protect against variants of sars-cov-2 with which the first generation may cope poorly (see next chapter). Insert the dna for a version of the spike protein which engenders a better response, reboot the system and off you go. In principle the companies might use the same approach to deliver the dna for a completely different antigen, and thus a vaccine against a completely different disease.  It’s very different from making vaccines in the old days. Then every vaccine was a new project with a whole new infrastructure. With these technologies, every new vaccine is the same project.
  • Second way: The second of the new technologies, mrna, works on similarly modular lines, but is yet more radical. A dna version of the spike gene is used to make huge amounts of mrna in a cell-free system—a solution that contains an enzyme called rna polymerase, the chemicals that power its work, and the raw components from which rna is made, all of which can be bought off the shelf. The mrna thus produced is then packaged into tiny particles of lipid—the inert material from which the membranes around cells are made. After the original dna has been harvested no cells are involved. It is all a matter of clean, scalable industrial chemistry. This simplicity has allowed the mRNA vaccines to be designed and produced on a massive scale in an incredibly short time. Vaccine companies expect to make 2.6bn doses of mrna vaccine in 2021 using manufacturing techniques proved at scale only last year.
  • Innovation pathways: Abstraction, repeatability and modularity open new pathways to innovation. For a sense of how this can prove transformative look to the world of computers. Hardware designers work with specified components which do what they are expected to; they have set rules for putting these components together—rules that allow them to build systems far more complex than would be possible if every detail of how every component worked had to be specified from scratch. And users write software which does not need to depend on the quirks of the hardware which embodies it.
  • Time has come: The gurus of “synthetic biology”, a school of thought and practice which seeks to re-engineer living systems in a way that makes them easier to engineer further, have been talking about such approaches for decades. They are also seeing them used in an increasing number of industrial settings. The sudden unleashing of rna as a tool for making vaccines and more looks like a kindred phenomenon.
  • Today's story: At the moment it is the adenovirus vaccines, not those based on mRNA, that are being produced at the greatest scale and lower cost, handily outcompeting the older techniques using inactivated SARA-CoV-2 which have been tried in China. With state-of-the-art cell cultures and well established supply chains, AstraZeneca expects 3bn doses of its vaccine to be produced this year. India’s Serum Institute alone plans to make 1bn doses. But cell cultures have economies of scale and require a lot of care and attention, while rna manufacturing is in its infancy. 


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    • 7. SOCIAL ISSUES (Prelims, GS Paper 2)
The Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill, 2021
  • The story: The Lok Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021 that seeks to strengthen and streamline the provisions for protection and adoption of children. The Bill amends the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and contains provisions related to children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
  • Points to note: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) audit of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in 2020, 90% of which are run by NGOs, found that 39% CCIs were not registered, even after the 2015 amendment was brought in. It also found that less than 20% CCIs, especially for girls, had not been set up in some states, 26% child welfare officers were not there. Moreover, three-fifths have no toilets, one-tenth have no drinking water and 15% homes don’t have provisions of separate beds, no diet plans. Rehabilitation of children is not a priority for childcare homes and children are reportedly kept in such institutions to get funds.
  • Key amendments:
  1. Serious offences: Serious offences will also include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is of less than seven years. Serious offences are those for which the punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being is imprisonment between three and seven years. Juvenile Justice Board inquires about a child who is accused of a serious offence.
  2. Non-cognizable Offences: The present Act provides that an offence which is punishable with imprisonment between three to seven years to be cognizable (where arrest is allowed without warrant) and non-bailable. The Bill amends this to provide that such offences will be non-cognizable.
  3. Adoption: Presently, the adoption order issued by the court establishes that the child belongs to the adoptive parents. The Bill provides that instead of the court, the District Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will issue such adoption orders.
  4. Appeals: The Bill provides that any person aggrieved by an adoption order passed by the District Magistrate may file an appeal before the Divisional Commissioner, within 30 days from the date of passage of such order. Such appeals should be disposed within four weeks from the date of filing of the appeal.
  5. Additional functions of the District Magistrate: These include: (i) supervising the District Child Protection Unit, and (ii) conducting a quarterly review of the functioning of the Child Welfare Committee.
  6. Designated Court: The Bill proposes that all offences under the earlier Act be tried in children’s court.
  7. Child Welfare Committees (CWCs): It provides that a person will not eligible to be a member of the CWC if he/she - has any record of violation of human rights or child rights, has been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude, has been removed or dismissed from service of the central government, or any state government, or a government undertaking, is part of the management of a child care institution in a district.
  8. Removal of Members: The appointment of any member of the committee shall be terminated by the state government after an inquiry if they fail to attend the proceedings of the CWCs consecutively for three months without any valid reason or if they fail to attend less than three-fourths of the sittings in a year.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015: The Act replaced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. It changes the nomenclature from ‘juvenile’ to ‘child’ or ‘child in conflict with law’. Also, it removes the negative connotation associated with the word “juvenile”. It also includes several new and clear definitions such as orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children; and petty, serious and heinous offences committed by children.
  1. Special Provisions for Age 16-18 years - Included special provisions to tackle child offenders committing heinous offences in the age group of 16-18 years.
  2. Mandatory Constitution of the JJ Board - It mandates setting up Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district. Both must have at least one woman member each.
  3. Adoption Related Clauses -  A separate new chapter on Adoption to streamline adoption procedures for an orphan, abandoned and surrendered children. Also, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) was granted the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively. The Act states that the adoption of a child is final on the issuance of an adoption order by the court. Currently, there are 629 adoption cases pending in various courts.
  4. Child Care Institutions (CCI) - All Child Care Institutions, whether run by State Government or by voluntary or non-governmental organisations are to be mandatorily registered under the Act within 6 months from the date of commencement of the Act.


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    • 8. MISCELLANEOUS (Prelims, GS Paper 1, GS Paper 2)

New Zealand passes Miscarriages Bereavement Leave Law
  • The story: Parliament of New Zealand passed the ‘Miscarriage bereavement leave law’.  This legislation provides mothers and their partners a “right to paid leave” after a miscarriage or stillbirth. New Zealand has become the second country, following India, across the world to pass such legislation.
  • Bereavement Leave Law: The bereavement leave law was passed unanimously in parliament on March 24, 2021. It provides the employees three days leave after a pregnancy ends with a stillbirth. They do not require to tap into sick leave now. Bill will provide women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss. Leave provisions apply to mothers, their partners and the parents who are planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy.
  • History: This legislation was passed by considering the fact that, one in four New Zealand women have had a miscarriage. Further, the country has been a pioneer on issues related to woman’s rights. It was the first country to give “voting rights to women”. It also passed a law in 2020 to decriminalise abortion. Government of New Zealand under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is regarded as a global champion for women.
  • Leave Law in India: The maternity leave in India is a paid leave in case of absence from work. Thus, this provision allows women employees the benefit to take care of their newborn besides retaining their jobs. Maternity leave Benefit Act 1961 was the first maternity leave law. It provided women employees a paid leave of 12 weeks post-delivery. The act was applicable to establishments with ten plus employees. provisions of this act were applicable to women employees on a permanent basis, contract or engaged with agencies. However, this act was revised as Maternity leave (Amendment) Bill 2017.


International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery
  1. The story: The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is observed on March 25, annually.
  2. Key points: The UN Chief underlined the need of addressing pernicious and persistent consequences of slavery. He also called for renewed commitments for a world where all can live with peace, dignity and opportunity.
  3. International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery: The day was designed for annual international observance on March 25 by United Nations in the year 2007. The day honours and remembers those who suffered and died because of ‘transatlantic slave trade’. This has been called as worst violation of human rights in history. In the event of Transatlantic slave trade, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims for over 400 years. The day also aims at raising the awareness regarding dangers of racism and prejudice today.
  4. History: The day was first observed in 2008 under the theme “Breaking the Silence, Lest We Forget”. In the year 2015 theme was “Women and Slavery”.
  5. Permanent Memorial: Year 2015 marks the start of UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent. To commemorate this, a permanent memorial was unveiled at UN headquarters in New York entitled “The Ark of Return”. It has been designed by Haitian-American architect Rodney Leon.
  6. Modern slavery across World: Over 40.3 million people are estimated to be enslaved in the modern forms, as of 2016. Out of them, 71 percent are women and girls.  Further, Children account for one in four as slave. The modern slave has further sparked amid the Covid-19 pandemic because of job losses, regular migration, rising poverty and reduced scrutiny of labour standards. Pandemic is making people vulnerable and is pushing more people for such jobs where they are exploited.


Khelo India Scheme extended to 2025-26
  1. The story: Sports Ministry has decided to extend “Khelo India Programme” from 2021-22 to 2025-26. Ministry has also furnished Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) memorandum to Ministry of Finance to extend the annual event.
  2. Key points: As per the memorandum to Finance Ministry, an amount of 8,750 crore has been estimated as a financial implication of new Khelo India Scheme. This programme is being extended after considering how this initiative has played a significant role in building a sporting culture across the country.
  3. Khelo India Initiative: The was launched by Indian Government with the aim of building a sporting culture across the country. This initiative plays a significant role in grassroots development of several sports over the years. It organises structured sports competition with the aim of encouraging mass participation from youth. Apart from that, it also focuses on building athletes who can win medal for India at Olympics. The event is organised annually in January month usually.
  4. Importance: This initiative will encourage the young athletes to prove their mettle on stage in upcoming edition on a large scale. It will play a significant role of building sporting culture in India in line with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s idea of importance of sports. Khelo India initiative was launched on the basis of Gujarat’s Khel Mahakumbh. Gujarat-based sporting event was initiated by Narendra Modi when he was Chief Minister of the state.


Parliament passes ‘National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill’
  1. The story: Parliament passed “National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill, 2021” (NBFID Bill) after Rajya Sabha approves it on March 25, 2021. Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on March 24, 2021.
  2. NBFID Bill: The bill seeks to establish a National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development to support ‘infrastructure financing’ across the country. NBFID would work as a principal development financial institution (DFIs). It includes development of bonds and derivatives markets which are required for infrastructure financing.
  3. National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NBFID): NBFID will be set up as a corporate statutory body. It will have the authorized share capital of one lakh crore rupees along with financial and developmental objectives. It will act as a catalyst for the ecosystem of infrastructure funding. NBFID will be answerable to Parliament. It will be managed by chairman & board nominated professionals who will be appointed by Government. Shares of NBFID can be held by central government, financial institutions, pension funds, insurers, multilateral institutions, Banks, sovereign wealth funds, and other institution prescribed by central government.
  4. Financial objectives of NBFID: These include to lend, invest or pull investments directly or indirectly for infrastructure projects entirely or partly in India. Its developmental objectives include to facilitate development of market for bonds, loans and derivatives to finance the infrastructure.
  5. DFIs: These provide long-term finance for those segments of economy where risks involved are beyond acceptable limits of commercial banks and other financial institutions. DFIs do not accept deposits from people. Instead, they source funds from market, government and multi-lateral institutions.  They are often supported by government guarantees.


9.1 Today's best editorials to read
  • We offer you 7 excellent editorials from across 10 newspapers we have scanned. 

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    • SECTION 3 - MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions)

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PT's IAS Academy: Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 27-03-2021
Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 27-03-2021
Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 27-03-2021
PT's IAS Academy
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