29 June 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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With respect to Dragon Fruit / Kamalam, consider the following statements:

  1. It is an exotic fruit which will help in repairing the cell damage caused by oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.
  2. The cultivation requires less water and can be grown in various kinds of soils.
  3. Currently, dragon fruit is grown only in the North Eastern States of India.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  • a.   1 only
  • b.   3 only
  • c.   1 and 2 only
  • d.   None of the above

Bosphorus Strait is a natural strait connecting Black Sea with which of the following Seas?

  • a.   Sea of Azov
  • b.   Sea of Marmara
  • c.   Agean Sea
  • d.   Adriatic Sea

Consider the following statements with respective to Pinaka Rocket

  1. The navigation system of the missile is linked with the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System.
  2. The enhanced range version of Pinaka Rocket System can destroy targets at distances up to 45 kms.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  • a.   1 only
  • b.   2 only
  • c.   Both 1 and 2
  • d.   Neither 1 nor 2

Which of the following is the nodal ministry for Drug Demand Reduction in India?

  • a.  Ministry of Home Affairs
  • b.  Ministry of Commerce and Industry
  • c.  Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
  • d.  Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

Prelims Specific News Items

About The National Security Guard (NSG) is an elite counter-terrorism unit under the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

It was founded on 22 September 1986 under the National Security Guard Act, 1986, following Operation Blue Star, the Golden Temple attack and the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, “for combating terrorist activities and protect states against internal disturbances”

About The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was constituted under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008.

It is a central agency to investigate and prosecute offences:

  • affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States.
  • against atomic and nuclear facilities.
  • smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency.

The cases are assigned to the NIA by the Central Government in accordance with section VI of the NIA Act, 2008.

The investigation of the cases is done by the Agency independently.

After investigation, the cases are placed before the NIA Special Court.

For prosecuting the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and certain other scheduled offences, the Agency seeks the sanction of the Central Government.

The sanction is granted under the UAPA based on the report of the ‘Authority’ constituted under section 45 (2) of the UAPA.

It is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across states without special permission from the states.

The NIA (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament amending the original Act of 2008.

The Bill seeks to allow the NIA to investigate the following additional offences:

  • Human trafficking
  • Offences related to counterfeit currency or banknotes
  • Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms
  • Cyber-terrorism, and
  • Offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908

3) What is Project Seabird?

Defence Minister has recently visited the Karwar Naval Base in Karnataka to inspect infrastructure development under Phase II of “Project Seabird”.

Project Seabird

  • The largest naval infrastructure project for India, Project Seabird involves the creation of a naval base at Karwar on the west coast of India.
  • INS Kadamba is an Indian Navy base located near Karwar in Karnataka.
  • The first phase of construction of the base was code-named Project Seabird and was completed in 2005.
  • INS Kadamba is currently the third-largest Indian naval base and is expected to become the largest naval base in the eastern hemisphere after the completion of expansion Phase IIB.

Why need such a base?

  • During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, the Indian Navy faced security challenges for its Western Fleet in Mumbai Harbour due to congestion in the shipping lanes from commercial shipping traffic, fishing boats and tourists.
  • At the end of the war, various options were considered on addressing these concerns
  • Upon completion, it will provide the Indian Navy with its largest naval base on the west coast and also the largest naval base east of the Suez Canal.
  • The Navy’s lone aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is based at Karwar.

4)Successful test-fire of Agni-Prime Missile

A new generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-P (Prime) was successfully test-fired by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Agni-Prime Missile

  • Agni-P is a new generation advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles.
  • It is a canisterised missile with a range capability between 1,000 and 2,000 km.
  • Many advanced technologies including composites, propulsion systems, innovative guidance and control mechanisms and state-of-the-art navigation systems have been introduced.
  • The missile strengthens India’s credible deterrence capabilities.

What is the upgrade?

  • Agni-P has improved parameters including manoeuvring and accuracy.
  • Canisterisation of missiles reduces the time required to launch the missile while improving its storage and mobility.

What are Agni Missiles?

  • Agni class of missiles are the mainstay of India’s nuclear launch capability which also includes the Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft.
  • The longest of the Agni series, Agni-V, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of over 5,000 km, has already been tested several times and validated for induction.

An arsenal for peace

  • In the last few years, India has also operationalized its submarine-based nuclear launch capability, completing the nuclear triad.
  • This is especially important given India’s No-First-Use policy while reserving the right of massive retaliation if struck with nuclear weapons first.

5) India to become self-reliant in Phosphatic Fertilizers

The Department of Fertilisers is ready with an Action Plan to make India Aatmanirbhar in Rock Phosphate, the key raw material of DAP and NPK Fertilizers.

What are Phosphatic Fertilizers?

  • Phosphorus is the eleventh most abundant element on the earth. Commercial phosphate fertilizers are manufactured using phosphate rock.
  • Approximately two-thirds of the world’s phosphate resources are derived from sedimentary and marine phosphate rock deposits.
  • Ground rock phosphate has been used as a source of phosphorous for soils in the past.
  • However, due to the low concentration of phosphorous in this native material, high transportation costs, and small crop responses, the usage of rock phosphate has reduced considerably in agriculture.
  • On the other hand, the usage of phosphorous based fertilizers has grown significantly.

Which are the most common Ph fertilizers?

  • The most commonly used phosphatic fertilizers are Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), Monoammonium Phosphate (MAP), NPKs, and SSP.
  • DAP is the world’s most widely used phosphorus fertilizer. It is popular due to its relatively high nutrient content and its excellent physical properties.
  • DAP is an excellent source of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) for plant nutrition.
  • It provides the correct proportion of phosphorous and nitrogen for the farming of grains such as wheat, barley, fruits, and vegetables.
  • NPKs, also called compound fertilizers, are fertilizers that contain all three nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in different proportions.
https://www.civilsdaily.com/news/pib-nutrient-based-subsidy-nbs-for-phosphatic-potassic-pk-fertilizers/embed/#?secret=IXqQJ9I3Nb

Why need Phosphorus?

  • Phosphorus is an essential nutrient required for plant growth. It helps in root development, plant maturation, and seed development.
  • If soils are deficient in phosphorus, food production becomes restricted, unless the nutrient is added in the form of fertilizers.
  • Hence, to increase food production, an adequate amount of phosphorus is required.
  • Along with nitrogen and potassium, phosphorus is one of the most important elements for plant life.
  • Soil gets depleted of phosphorus due to several reasons including being washed away by rain. Therefore, modern farming is reliant on the use of phosphorus-based fertilizers.

Consumption in India

  • Rock Phosphate is the key raw material for DAP and NPK fertilisers and India is 90% dependent on imports.
  • Volatility in international prices affects the domestic prices of fertilisers and hinders the progress and development of the agriculture sector in the country.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.What are the advantages of fertigation in agriculture? (CSP 2020)

1.Controlling the alkalinity of irrigation water is possible.
2. Efficient application of Rock Phosphate and all other phosphatic fertilizers is possible.
3. Increased availability of nutrients to plants is possible.
4. Reduction in the leaching of chemical nutrients is possible.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 1,2 and 4 only

(c) 1,3 and 4 only

(d) 2, 3 and 4 only

6) Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay :-

The Prime Minister has paid homage to Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay on his birth anniversary.

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (1838-1894)

  • Chattopadhyay was a revolutionary novelist, poet and journalist.
  • He was the composer of Vande Mataram, originally in Sanskrit, personifying India as a mother goddess and inspiring activists during the Indian Independence Movement.
  • Chattopadhyay wrote fourteen novels and many serious, serio-comic, satirical, scientific and critical treatises in Bengali.
  • He is known as Sahitya Samrat (Emperor of Literature) in Bengali.

His literary work

  • Anandamath is a political novel that depicts a Sannyasi (Hindu ascetic) army fighting a British force. The book calls for the rise of Indian nationalism.
  • The novel was also the source of the song Vande Mataram which, set to music by Rabindranath Tagore, was taken up by many Indian nationalists and is now the National Song of India.
  • The plot of the novel is loosely set on the Sannyasi Rebellion.
  • He imagined untrained Sannyasi soldiers fighting and defeated the highly experienced British Army; ultimately, however, he accepted that the British could not be defeated.
  • The novel first appeared in serial form in Bangadarshan, the literary magazine that Chattopadhyay founded in 1872.
  • Vande Mataram became prominent during the Swadeshi movement, which was sparked by Lord Curzon’s attempt to partition Bengal.
  • Drawing from the Shakti tradition of Bengali Hindus, Chattopadhyay personified India as a Mother Goddess known as Bharat Mata, which gave the song a Hindu undertone.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Which among the following event happened earliest? (CSP 2018)

(a) Swami Dayanand established Arya Samaj

(b) Dinabandhu Mitra wrote Neeldarpan

(c) Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote Anandmath

(d) Satyendranath Tagore became the first India to succeed in the Indian Civil Services Examination

7) P.Sainath awarded 2021 Fukuoka Prize :-

Noted journalist P. Sainath has been selected as one of the three recipients of the Fukuoka Prize for 2021.

Fukuoka Prize

  • The Fukuoka Prize is given annually to distinguished people to foster and increase awareness of Asian cultures, and to create a broad framework of exchange and mutual learning among the Asian people.
  • The Prize was established in 1990 by the city of Fukuoka in Japan and the Fukuoka City International Foundation.
  • The Grand Prize has earlier been awarded to Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh, historian Romila Thapar, and sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan. Eleven Indians have received the Fukuoka Prize so far.
  • 115 people from 28 countries and areas have received the Prize in the past 30 years.

Citation for the award

  • In a statement issued Mr. Sainath was described as a “very deserving recipient of the Grand Prize of Fukuoka Prize”.
  • The Secretariat noted his work for creating a new form of knowledge through his writings and commentaries on rural India and for “promoting civil cooperation”.

Editorials of the Day

Prudent to revisit the aggressive privatisation of public enterprises :-

Three categories of public sector enterprises

1) Sick for long time and beyond redemption

  • There is the category of enterprises which have been sick for a long time.
  • Their technology, plants and machinery are obsolete. 
  • They should be closed, and assets sold.
  • The labour in these enterprises have had a political constituency which has prevented closure.

What should be done with these enterprises?

  • The Government should close these in a time-bound manner with a generous handshake for labour.
  • After selling machinery as scrap, there would be valuable land left.
  • Prudent disposal of these plots of lands in small amounts would yield large incomes in the coming years.
  • All this would need the creation of dedicated efficient capacity as the task is huge and challenging.
  • These enterprises may be taken away from their parent line Ministries and brought under one holding company.
  • This holding company should have the sole mandate of speedy liquidation and asset sale.

2) Financially troubled but can be turned around

  • Private management through privatisation or induction of a strategic partner is the best way to restore value of these enterprises.
  • Air India and the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) hotels are good examples.

What should be done with these enterprises?

  • Air India should ideally be made debt free and a new management should have freedom permitted under the law in personnel management to get investor interest.
  • As valuation rises, the Government could reduce its stake further and get more money.
  • If well handled, significant revenues would flow to the Government.

3) Profitable enterprises

  • Pragmatism instead of ideology should guide thinking about them.
  • The Chinese chose to nurture their good state-owned enterprises as well as their private ones to succeed in the domestic and global markets by increasing their competitiveness in cost, quality, and technology.
  • The Chinese chose to promote both their public as well as their private sector enterprises to rise.
  • Both have made China the economic superpower that it is today.

What should be done with profitable enterprises?

  • The Government can continue to reduce its shareholding by offloading shares and even reducing its stake to less than 51% while remaining the promoter and being in control.
  • Calibrated divestment to get maximum value should be the goal instead of being target driven to get a lower fiscal deficit number to please rating agencies.
  • In parallel, managements may be given longer and stabler tenures, greater flexibility to achieve outcomes, and more confidence to take well-considered commercial risks.

Challenges

  • First, the number of Indian private firms which can buy out public sector firms are very few.
  • Their limited financial and managerial resources would be better utilised in taking over the large number of private firms up for sale through the bankruptcy process.
  • Then, these successful large corporates need to be encouraged to invest and grow both in brownfield and greenfield modes in the domestic as well as international markets.
  • Sale at fair or lower than fair valuations to foreign entities, firms as well as funds, has adverse implications from the perspective of being ‘Atma Nirbhar’.
  • Again, greenfield foreign investment is what India needs and not takeovers.
  • Public sector enterprises provide for reservations in recruitment.
  • With privatisation, this would end and unnecessarily generate social unrest.

Conclusion

Would it be in India’s interest to lose the strategic capacity that its ownership of public enterprises including financial ones provide it? It would be better to think carefully now.

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