11th October, 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Prelims Specific Questions :-

1) Which of the following group of countries share border with Afghanistan

  1. Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Russia
  2. Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan
  3. Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
  4. China, Iran, Russia

2) Consider the following statements with regard to National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS):

  1. It was first adopted to monitor outdoor air quality by CPCB
  2. It monitors level of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 and 2

3) Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is recently seen in news. The sanctuary is located in which of the following state?

  1. Rajasthan
  2. Maharashtra
  3. Gujarat
  4. Himachal Pradesh

Answer – Gujrat

Prelims Specific News Items :-

1) Open Market Operations (OMO) –

  • OMOs is one of the quantitative monetary policy tools which is employed by the central bank of a country to control the money supply in the economy.
  • It is a part of the Market Stabilization Scheme (MSS) by the RBI.
  • OMOs are conducted by the RBI by way of sale or purchase of government securities (g-secs) to adjust money supply conditions.
  • The central bank sells g-secs to remove liquidity from the system and buys back g-secs to infuse liquidity into the system

2) ‘Indian Space Association’ (ISpA) –

PM Modi to launch ‘Indian Space Association’:- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is set to digitally launch the ‘Indian Space Association’ (ISpA) on October 11, 2021.

  • Indian Space Association (ISpA) is the premier industry association of space and satellite companies.
  • ISpA is represented by leading home grown and global corporations having advanced capabilities in space & satellite technologies.
  • Founding members of ISpA include Nelco (Tata group), Bharti Airtel, Larsen & Toubro, Mapmyindia, OneWeb, Walchandnagar Industries and Ananth Technology Limited.
  • Core members include BEL, Godrej, Hughes India, Centum Electronics, Azista-BST Aerospace Private Limited and Maxar India.
  • In line with the Prime Minister’s vision of Atma Nirbhar Bharat, ISpA aspires become the collective voice of Indian Space industry.
  • It will undertake policy advocacy and engage with all stakeholders in the Indian Space domain, including the Government and its agencies.

3) UN World Cotton Day (WCD) – October 7

  • World Cotton Day was observed on October 7, across the world, in a bid to raise awareness regarding the cotton sector among people.
  • UN World Cotton Day (WCD) is celebrated annually on October 7 with the aim of raising awareness regarding the critical role of cotton sector in international trade, economic development and poverty alleviation.

4) ‘PM Gati Shakti’  –

PM Modi to launch first ever National Infrastructure Masterplan ‘PM Gati Shakti’ on Oct 13

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the first ever National Infrastructure Masterplan, Pradhan Mantri Gati Shakti on 13th October. The Gati Shakti scheme was announced by Mr Modi on Independence Day this year. This will bring together 16 Ministries, including seven core infrastructure sectors, on one platform to synergise project planning across stakeholder ministries to avoid duplication, expedite clearances and plug gaps at the right time.

The Gati Shakti platform will provide information instantaneously, allowing for better coordination. The plan is aimed at achieving three basic goals – seamless multimodal connectivity to facilitate easy movement of goods and people, improved prioritisation, optimal usage of resources, timely creation of capacities, and resolution of issues such as disjointed planning, standardisation and clearances.

The Gati Shakti Master Plan will provide the framework for the National Infrastructure Pipeline program and is aimed at making Indian products more competitive by cutting down the logistics costs and improving the supply chains.

5) World Mental Health Day- October 10  –

World Mental Health Day observes to spread awareness about importance of mental health :- This day is being celebrated every year on October 10, to raise awareness and spread education about mental health issues across the globe and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. The Day was first observed on October 10, 1992 as an annual activity of World Federation for Mental Health. The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental health in an unequal world’.

The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide

Important news :-

1) CIC favours disclosure of Bucher files –

The disclosure of files provided by India’s second Army chief, General Sir Roy Bucher, to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library on Jammu and Kashmir is in “national interest”, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has observed in an order.

The files are related to the period of 1947-49 and may throw light on the Accession of J&K.

About Central Information Commission (CIC):

  • Establishment: The CIC was established by the Central Government in 2005, under the provisions of the Right to Information Act (2005). It is not a constitutional body.
  • Members: It consists of a Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information Commissioners.
  • Appointment: They are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of the Commission extends over all Central Public Authorities.
  • Tenure: The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall hold office for such term as prescribed by the Central Government or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They are not eligible for reappointment.

Power and Functions of CIC:

  • To receive and inquire into a complaint from any person regarding information requested under RTI, 2005.
  • It can order an inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds (suo-moto power).
  • While inquiring, the Commission has the powers of a civil court in respect of summoning, requiring documents etc.

2) There is consensus over Kalapani: ex-Nepal Minister

Kalapani Dispute:

The contestation is over three issues: the source of the Kali (also called Mahakali) river, the location of Lipulekh Pass , and the India-China-Nepal trijunction. The earliest the Nepalese go back on Kalapani is to 1816, the Treaty of Sugauli whose Article 5 reads: ‘areas east of Kali river belong to Nepal’. The origin/source of Kali river determines whether the Kalapani area, which is around 35 sq km, lies in India or Nepal.

Kathmandu claims the source of the Kali river is Lampiya Dhura and not Kalapani as avowed by India, which contends that beyond Kalapani, the boundary follows the watershed to the northern border encompassing the area bound by Lipu Gad (Kava Khola) and the watershed. If Lampiya Dhura is accepted as the source of river Kali, nearly 400 sq km of territory including Kalapani and Lipulekh Pass would go to Nepal.

3) New MoD complexes designed to be eco-friendly: architects

“One of the defining features is the use of new and sustainable construction technology called LGSF [light gauge steel frame] which reduced construction time to 10 months in comparison to conventional reinforced cement concrete [RCC] construction,”

Light Gauge Framing System (LGFS) or Light gauge Steel framing (LGSF) is a construction technology using cold-formed steel as the construction material. It can be used for roof systems, floor systems, wall systems, roof panels, decks, or the entire buildings. They can also be used as individual framing members such as studs, joists, headers, and truss members.

4) Scientist behind Pak. Nuclear bomb, A.Q. Khan, passes away –

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced atomic scientist known as the ‘father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb’ under the clandestine enrichment programme and infamous for his controversial role in nuclear proliferation, died here on Sunday after a brief illness. He was 85.

Editorial of the day

1) A ‘Taiwan flashpoint’ in the Indo-Pacific –

Background – If the rising confrontation between the United States and China erupts into a clash of arms, the likely arena may well be the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan is the unfinished business of China’s liberation under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949. The Guomindang (KMT) forces under Chiang Kai-shek lost the 1945-49 civil war to the CCP forces under Mao Zedong. Chiang retreated to the island of Taiwan and set up a regime that claimed authority over the whole of China and pledged to recover the mainland eventually.

‘Strategic ambiguity’

Taiwan could not be occupied militarily by the newly established People’s Republic of China (PRC) as it became a military ally of the United States during the Korean War of 1950-53. It was described as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” underscoring its strategic significance. This phase came to an end with the U.S. recognising the PRC as the legitimate government of China in 1979, ending its official relationship with Taiwan and abrogating its mutual defence treaty with the island.

China, on the other hand, is committed to pursuing peaceful unification but retains the right to use force to achieve the objective. 

With China itself adopting market-oriented reforms since 1978 and becoming, over a period of time, a significant economic and commercial opportunity globally, Taiwan business entities have invested heavily in mainland China and the two economies have become increasingly integrated. Between 1991 and 2020, the stock of Taiwanese capital invested in China reached U.S. $188.5 billion and bilateral trade in 2019 was U.S. $150 billion, about 15% of Taiwan’s GDP. 

Taiwanese attempts to reduce the island’s economic exposure to China have not been successful so far. China is capable of inflicting acute economic pain on Taiwan through coercive policies if the island is seen to drift towards an independent status.

 Taiwan’s politics

Taiwan has two major political parties.

  1. The KMT, dominated by the descendants of the mainlanders who came to the island along with Chiang Kai-skek in 1949, remains committed to a one-China policy and does not support the independence of Taiwan.
  2. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), on the other hand, is more representative of the indigenous population of the island, and favours independence.

China feels more comfortable with the KMT and is hostile to the DPP. Ever since the DPP under Tsai Ing-wen won the presidential elections in 2016, China has resorted to a series of hostile actions against the island, which include economic pressures and military threats. 

The U.S. stance towards Taiwan –

While the U.S. does not support a declaration of independence by Taiwan, it has gradually reversed the policy of avoiding official-level engagements with the Taiwan government. The first breach occurred during the Donald Trump presidency when several senior officials, including a cabinet-level official, visited the island. The Joe Biden officials have continued this policy. The Taiwanese representative in Washington was invited to attend the presidential inauguration ceremony (Biden), again a first since 1979. 

Reports have now emerged that U.S. defence personnel have been, unannounced, training with their Taiwanese counterparts for sometime. In a new incident last week, a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine reportedly ran into an “unidentified object” while in the South China Sea. China has objected to these U.S. actions vociferously.

Is China prepared to carry out military operations to invade and occupy Taiwan?

In March this year, the U.S. Pacific Commander, Philip Davidson, warned that China could invade Taiwan within the next six years as part of its strategy of displacing U.S. power in Asia. He appeared to suggest that Chinese military capabilities had been developed in order to achieve this objective. Other analysts argue that cross-strait operations would be extremely complex and pacifying a hostile population may prove to be long drawn out and costly. China may, therefore, be content to head off Taiwan independence while continuing to build its capabilities and await a further relative decline of U.S. power and its will to intervene in the defence of Taiwan.

Impact of Recent alliances –

The recent crystallisation of the Quad, of which India is a part, and the announcement of the Australia-U.K.-U.S. alliance, AUKUS, with Australia being graduated to a power with nuclear-powered submarines, may act as a deterrent against Chinese moves on Taiwan.

For these reasons, Taiwan is emerging as a potential trigger point for a clash of arms between the U.S. and China.

2) The many questions arising from QES data –  

The Labour Bureau released the results of the All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey (QES) for the first quarter (FQ) of 2021 (April to June). The survey covers establishments employing 10 or more workers in the organised segment in nine sectors (manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, education, health, accommodation and restaurants, IT/BPO, and financial service activities). These sectors account for 85% of the total employment in establishments employing 10 or more workers as per the Sixth Economic Census (EC).

The stated objective of the QES is to enable the government to frame a “sound national policy on employment”. India ratified the International Labour Organization’s Employment Policy Convention, 1964, which requires the ratifying countries to implement “an active policy designed to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment.” India does not have one till now.

The CMIE has been projecting a distressed labour market scenario, especially during the pandemic. Notwithstanding criticisms, the CMIE database has dominated the analyses and understanding of the labour market. This could be quite irksome to any ruling party. Thus, the government needed an ‘official’ database that projects a rosy picture of the economy and the labour market.

It is not surprising that the QES has reported a simple growth rate of 29% in employment in FQ2021 over 2013-14 (Sixth EC).

 The provisional estimates of annual national income for 2020-21 showed contraction in manufacturing (-7.2.%), construction (-8.6%) and trade (-18.2.%), which are some of the sectors covered in QES.

Are we talking of employment growth despite economic slowdown – from jobless growth to job-loss growth to growthless job growth?

On the flip side, the report concedes a decline in the share of female workers from 31% in the Sixth EC to 29% in FQ2021. Like the Sixth EC, it could have collected data on social aspects like caste and religion as the pandemic would have had differential impacts on social statuses of workers. The data on the formalisation of establishments as revealed by registration under the laws must take care of two aspects. One, there could be overlaps between the registrations (say, factories or shops registering under more than one law). Two, since this is an employment survey, it is relevant to consider labour laws under which the establishment can be registered like the Factories Act, Shops Act or the Building and Other Construction Workers Act and employ workers rather than including tax laws as QES does.

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