29th July 2021 Daily current Affairs

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Questions of the Day

  1. Mendez principles sometimes seen in news are? 
  1.  set of standards for non-coercive interviewing
  2. safeguards to be followed at nuclear installations
  3. ethical best practices in the area of genetic testing
  4. vaccination protocols governing prisoners of war

2)Global Economic Prospects Report is released by? 

 IMF

 WEF

 WB

 UNDP

3) Consider the following statements 

  1. Black carbon is not harmful.  
  2. Black carbon is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass. 
  3. Blue carbon includes coastal carbon sink  

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? 

 1 and 2 only

 2 and 3 only

 1 and 3 only 

 All of the above

Prelims Specific News Items

1) About Nauka Module:

Nauka is the Russian word for ‘Science’. It will serve as Russia’s main research facility on the International Space Station(ISS).

The module will replace Pirs, a Russian module on the ISS used as a docking port for spacecraft and as a door for cosmonauts to go out on spacewalks.

The module will bring to the ISS another oxygen generator, a spare bed, another toilet, and a robotic cargo crane built by the European Space Agency(ESA).

2)Parliament has passed the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021

Parliament has passed the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021. The bill aims to replace the 90-year-old Lighthouse Act 1927.

Background:

The administration and management of Lighthouse and Lightships in India is governed by Lighthouse Act 1927 for safe navigation.

At the time of the enactment of the Lighthouse Act 1927, there were only 32 Lighthouses in then British India.

Presently, there are 195 Lighthouses and a number of advanced radio and digital aids to navigation administered under the said Act.

The new Act has been enacted to provide an appropriate statutory framework that reflects the modern role of marine aids in navigation. Further, to be in compliance with India’s obligations under International Conventions.

Key Features of the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021: The bill seeks to provide a framework for the development, maintenance, and management of aids to navigation in India. The key features include:

Application: The Bill applies to the whole of India including various maritime zones including territorial waters, continental shelf, and exclusive economic zone.

Aid to navigation: The Bill defines aid to navigation as a device, system or external to the vessels designed and operated to enhance the safety and efficiency of navigation of vessels and vessel traffic.

Director General of Aids to Navigation: The central government can appoint the Director General to advise the central government on matters related to aids to navigation, among others.

Central Advisory Committee: The central government may appoint a Central Advisory Committee(CAC) having special knowledge of the sector.

Management of Vessel Traffic: The central government will be responsible for the development, maintenance and management of all general aids to navigation and vessel traffic services.

Levy of marine aids to navigation dues: The Central Government can prescribe rates for marine aids to navigation dues. These dues will be levied and collected for every ship arriving at or departing from any port in India. Proceeds thereof shall be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India.

Heritage Lighthouse: The Central Government can designate any aid to navigation under its control as a “heritage lighthouse”. In addition to their function as aids to navigation, such lighthouses will be developed for educational, cultural, and tourism purposes.

Penalties: The Bill provides certain offences and penalties for intentionally causing obstruction of reduction or damage to any aid to navigation or vessel traffic services.

3)NASA is set to launch James Webb Space Telescope(JWST). But before it launches, NASA has to decide whether to rename the telescope. This is because  James Webb after whom the telescope is named was alleged to have persecuted homosexuals when he had worked for the government.

About James Webb Telescope:

James Webb Telescope is an international collaboration between NASA, European Space Agency(ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency.

The telescope will complement and is considered the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The telescope will use infrared light, which cannot be perceived by the human eye, to study every phase in cosmic history.

4)About Agristack:

AgriStack is a proposed collection of technologies and digital databases focusing on farmers and the agricultural sector.

The database will create a unified platform for farmers to provide them end-to-end services across the agriculture food value chain.

Under the program, each farmer will have a unique digital identification (farmers’ ID) which will be linked to their Aadhaar number.

Data to be collected by AgriStack may include personal details, the profile of land held, production details, and financial details.

Editorial of the Day

Editorial 01 :- Promoting fiscal federalism

Context

States are facing financial constraints in the backdrop of lockdown and consequent dwindling revenue collection. The situation also highlights the issues of fiscal federalism in India.

Issues facing fiscal federalism in India

1) Issue of 14% compensation

  • As per the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, compensation on account of the implementation of GST will be available for a period of five years.
  • 14% increment assurance: At the time of introducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) law assured States a 14% increase in their annual revenue for five years (up to July 1, 2020).
  • But the Union government has deviated from the statutory promise and has been insisting that States avail themselves of loans.
  • The future interest liability of these loans should not be placed on the shoulders of the States.
  • Borrowing limits built into loan: Moreover, the borrowing limit of States, as per the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, should not be built into these loans.

2) Conditional increase in borrowing limit

  • Last year, the Union government increased the borrowing ceiling of the States from 3% to 5% for FY 2020-21.
  • But conditions are attached to 1.5% of the 2% of increased ceiling.
  • Attaching conditions for expenditure out of the borrowed amount would clip the wings of the States and goes against the principle of cooperative federalism.

Way forward

  • Introduce special rate: A special rate could be levied for a specified period in order to raise additional resources to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19 with the approval of the GST Council.
  • As per Section 4(f) of Article 279A, the Union government can consider introducing any special rate to raise additional resources during the pandemic (any natural calamity or disaster).
  • The present GST compensation period will end in 2021-22.
  • Increase the period beyond five years:  Compensation beyond five years requires a constitutional amendment.
  • If this period is not increased, it will create serious financial stress to the States, especially to those which require higher compensation.

Conclusion

There is a need for measures on part of the Central government to consolidate fiscal federalism in the aftermath of pandemic and implementation of the GST regime in India.

Editorial 02 : Japanese education spells holistic development

Investment in education yields both private and social returns. 

  • Private returns, like wages, accrue to individuals. 
  • Social returns accrue to society: For when educated people follow rules such as queuing, using washrooms, washing hands, protecting public property, etc. the collective returns from such actions generate a huge social value such as cleaner, healthier and disciplined societies.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has given us an opportunity to re-evaluate how our schools should expand our capabilities. 

  • While academic prowess in math, science and language is essential, moral & value education is missing in India’s education system
  • Japanese Education system provides important lessons for India to make our Education system human-centric in nature.

What is Japanese Model of Education?

 Japanese curriculum emphasis on both cognitive & non-cognitive elements. 

  1. Moving Beyond Academic Prowess
  • Chi-Toku-Tai’ is the defining features of Japanese schooling. 
    • Chi, which translates to ‘know’ lay an emphasis on building strong academic abilities. 
    • Toku, translates to ‘virtue’ and refers to mindfulness, self-discipline, and cooperative abilities. 
    • Tai, translates to ‘body, and refers to physical and mental well-being.
  • This philosophy focuses on holistic ability extending beyond academic prowess to include ‘kansei’ which roughly translates to ‘sensitivity’. 
  • This approach aims at developing a knowledgeable mind which can appreciate beauty and nature, hold a sense of justice, and respect life and labour.
  1. Shaping Social Behaviour
  • The elementary school curriculum is supplemented with subjects, namely moral education, integrated studies and special activities. This plays a tremendous role in building courteous and mindful societies.
  • Moral education includes norms that define socially responsible and considerate behaviour towards everyone including nature. 
  • Students as young as first graders take turns to clean their classrooms, washrooms, serve school lunches, and water the plants at school. 
  • Such a system reaps several benefits. As students do various chores, it builds respect for labour, humility at a young age and encourages responsible and mindful behaviour towards the community. 
  1. Experiential learning
  • Integrated studies encompass experiential learning and independent thinking where students identify problems in their local communities and think of solutions.
  • For example, children may create a disaster preparedness map based on their own research. Activities such as these integrate schools with community.
  • If we can train our children in identifying problems in their local communities such as health ailments, pollution, waste disposal, etc. and coach them in developing solution road maps, the gains to both sides can be immense.
  • Any solution & analysis inculcates the practise of ‘kaizen’ — the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement.
  1. Emphasis on Unity
  • Another notable aspect that defines Japanese society and education system is ‘collectivism’. 
  • Unlike the West, Japan is a collectivist society. Working as a group and group harmony is fundamental to this society
  • The belief that one wins only when the group wins, generates equitable and united societies.
  • Education includes activities which promotes the idea of Unity & Collectivism.

Conclusion

  • The Japanese education philosophy transitioned from an extremely examination-focused, rote memorisation-based approach to the ‘Chi-Toku-Tai’ approach in the 1970s. 
  • The results are visible with high Civic Consciousness among Japanese as well as top rank in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). 
  • It is time India learn from this model.

Editorial 03 : No need for a drastic population policy

Synopsis: 

Data from Assam and Uttar Pradesh show that fertility rates have been reducing over time.

Introduction

The Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill of 2021 promotes a two-child policy. A similar law has also been proposed in Assam as well. The Assam CM announced a ‘population army’ to curb the birth rate in Muslim-dominated areas in lower Assam.

Decreasing fertility rates in India:

The population projection published by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2019 mentioned that U.P. will reach a replacement rate (the rate at which women give birth to enough babies to sustain population levels) of 2.1 by 2025, and Assam by 2020.

  • According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-2 data, the total fertility rate (TFR) in 1998-99 in U.P. was 3.87. It was decreasing in UP. The NFHS-5 data for 2019-20 for U.P. has not been published.
  • The fertility trend for Assam is even starker. According to NFHS data, Assam had a TFR of 3.5 in 1992-93, which decreased to 1.9 in 2019-20.
Does the fertility rate depend on religion?

The fertility rate does not depend on religion. It depends on socio-economic characteristics like education, income, maternal and child health conditions, and other associated factors.

Fertility rates
Source: The Hindu

The district-wise fertility rates for Hindus and Muslims in four States: U.P., Assam, West Bengal, and Bihar have shown in the graph. It is clear from the graphs that there is a positive relationship between the fertility rates of Hindus and Muslims.

In other words, in districts where Hindus have a high fertility rate, the fertility rate of Muslims is also high.

Problem of ageing

As per the population projection report, the proportion of people aged 60 years and above will increase from 13.8% in 2011 to 23.1% in 2036.

Conclusion

India’s decades-old population policy has achieved replacement level fertility in the country without taking any coercive measures. Governments should have faith in these time-tested policies and respect the choices of people, rather than impose warped and motivated ideas regarding demography on the people.

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