Prelims Practices Questions
I.) Consider the following:
Which of the above are responsible for soil degradation?
A.) 1 and 4 only
B.) 2, 3 and 4 only
C.) 1, 2 and 3 only
D,) 1, 2, 3 and 4
II. ) With reference to Neelakurinji Flower, consider the following statements :-
1.It blooms only once in every 12 years.
2. It has been categorized as endangered species.
3. The flower has an excellent smell and enormous medicinal value.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A.) 1 and 3 only
B.) 2 and 3 only
C.) 1 and 2 only
D.) 1, 2 and 3 only
III.) Which of the following is/are tributary/tributaries of Brahmaputra?
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A.) 1 only
B.) 2 and 3 only
C.) 1 and 2 only
D.) 1, 2 and 3 only
Mains Question of the Day
Question :- Why is rupee depreciating ? What are the remedies to that.
Prelims Specific Facts
1.) SC axes 51-year-old curb, single women get equal abortion rights
- In 2021, Parliament altered the law to allow for abortions based on the advice of one doctor for pregnancies up to 20 weeks.
- The modified law needs the opinion of two doctors for pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks.
- Further, for pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks, rules specified seven categories of women who would be eligible for seeking termination under section 3B of rules prescribed under the MTP Act,
- Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest,
- Change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce),
- Women with physical disabilities [major disability as per criteria laid down under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
- Mentally ill women including mental retardation,
- The foetal malformation that has a substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child is born it may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped, and
- Women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disasters or emergencies may be declared by the Government.
- In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court on Thursday declared that single women with pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks are entitled to access the same safe and legal abortion care as married women.
- A three-judge Bench, led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, pried open the restrictive grip of a 51-year-old abortion law which barred unmarried women from terminating pregnancies that are up to 24 weeks old.
- The judgment came in an appeal by a person who wanted to terminate her pregnancy before her term completed 24 weeks. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 prohibits unmarried women who are between 20 and 24 weeks’ pregnant to abort with the help of registered doctors.
- “The rights of reproductive autonomy, dignity and privacy give an unmarried woman the right of choice as to whether or not to bear a child on a similar footing as that of a married woman, Justice Chandrachud held in an order issued on a petition field by a person who chose to remain anonymous.
- The court said a single women may have suffered the same change in material circumstances as a married pregnant woman.
2. UNESCO lists 50 iconic Indian textiles
- UNESCO on Thurs day released a list of 50 exclusive and iconic heritage textile crafts of the country. Todaembroidery and Sungadi from Tamil Nadu, Himroo from Hyderabad, and Bandha tie and dye from Sambalpur in Odisha .
- According to UNESCO, one of the major challenges to the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the south Asia is the lack of proper inventory and documentation.
- Khes from Panipat, Chamba rumals from Himachal Pradesh, Thigma or wool tie and dye from Ladakh, and Awadh Jamdani from Varanasi.
- Finding a place From the south, Ilkal and Lambadi or Banjara embroidery from Karnataka, Sikalnayakanpet Kalamkari from Thanjavur have been included.
- Kunbi weaves from Goa, Mashru weaves and Patola from Gujarat,
3. Russia set to annex four Ukraine regions
- At a grand ceremony in Moscow on Friday, Russia will formally annex four regions of Ukraine — Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Lugansk — that its troops seized, the Kremlin has said, after it suggested using nuclear weapons to defend the territories.The threats from Russian officials have not deterred a sweeping counter offpensive from Kyiv, which has been pushing back Russian troops in the east.
4. U.S announces $810 mn in funding for Pacific Islands
- The first-ever Washington summit of Pacific Island nations, including 12 heads of state or government, in hopes of using a personal touch to reconnect with a region that has been tied closely to the United States since the Second World War.
- China has asserted itself strongly in recent years through investment, police training and, most controversially, a security pact with the Solomon Islands.
- The Biden administration also announced that the United States would recognise Cook Islands and Niue, a self-governing territory whose foreign and de fence policies and currency are linked to New Zealand. The step will al low the United States to in crease its diplomatic foot print in the Cook Island and Niue, which have fewer inhabitants than 20,000
Editorial of the Day
India lacks a complete paediatric cardio-care service
- It is overwhelming for parents to be told that their child may have heart defects. It is worse when the child does not get treated in time due to lack of paediatric cardiac care in the vicinity of his/her home.
- Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, U.S., acknowledges to be the most common congenital disorder, is responsible for 28% of all congenital birth defects, and accounts for 6%-10% of all the infant deaths in India.
- Paediatricians say timely medical intervention can save 75% of these children and give them normal lives. The lack of a national policy for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases in children keeps a huge number outside the ambit of treatment. It is estimated that over 1,00,000 children keep getting added to the existing pool of children awaiting surgery.
- According to the Pediatric Cardiac Society of India (PCSI), the prevalence of congenital cardiac anomalies is one in every 100 live births; or an estimated 2,00,000 children are born with CHD every year. Only 15,000 of them receive treatment. At least 30% of infants who have complex defects require surgical intervention to survive their first birthday but only 2,500 operations can be performed each year. A case in point is the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where infants are waitlisted till 2026 for cardiac surgery.
- India with infant and neonatal cardiac services 70% of these centres; most centres are located in regions with a lower burden of CHD. For instance, Kerala has eight centres offering neonatal cardiac surgeries for an estimated 4.5 lakh annual childbirths. Populous Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, with an estimated annual childbirth of 48 and 27 lakh births per annum, respectively (Census of India, 2012), do not have a centre capable of performing neonatal cardiac surgery.
- It taxes the vulnerable and the marginalised For 600 districts with a 1.4 billion population, there are only 250 paediatric cardiologists available. The doctor to patient ratio is an abysmal one for half-a-crore population. According to the Annals of Pediatric Cardiology journal, the United States had 2,966 paediatric cardiologists in 2019 – a ratio of one per 29,196 population. Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab, Odisha (besides U.P. and Bihar) have a higher CHD burden but do not have paediatric cardiologists in the government sector.
- Apart from the low number of paediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, and critical care centres, poverty is another barrier before treatment. Transporting sick neonates from States with little or no cardiac care facilities to faraway centres for accurate diagnosis and treatment burdens parents financially.
- It is not just unaffordability but also inaccessibility that constraints paediatric services. In addition, there is the non-availability of crucial equipment that is essential for diagnosis of heart diseases in the unborn. Accentuating the problem is the general lack of awareness about early symptoms of CHD among parents.
Explainer of the Day
1. How much should Indian prop up the rupee?
- Last week, the rupee weakened against the dollar past the 81-mark to a record low. In recent months, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been intervening in the forex market to smoothen the decline. With the RBI dipping into its kitty for this purpose, Indian foreign exchange reserves have fallen by about $94 billion in 12 months to about $545 billion until mid-September. How much more forex can the RBI afford to use in reducing currency volatility?
- Dharmakirti Joshi: The use of forex reserves is appropriate at this juncture. You build your reserves during good times and spend them during bad times. Right now, reserves are being spent in trying to curb currency volatility. You can’t defend the rupee at a particular level, because that would be swimming against the tide, which is not possible in this environment. But you can make it less volatile. Having said that, there is also a limit to how much you can lean on the reserves. They can burn out pretty quickly if you are aggressive in your interventions. So, you need a multi-pronged approach, which involves several measures, which the RBI has already taken to increase the supply of U.S. dollars in the Indian market, such as easing provisions for remittances, allowing short-term foreign portfolio investments in government securities, etc. We can even think of a scheme similar to the one introduced in 2014 to attract NRI investments.
- Some, but not too much, depreciation will partly help the export sector, as global demand is the key influencer of exports, and currencies of our competitors are also weakening. So, the vulnerability that stems from high current account deficit (CAD) can get addressed to some extent.
- we believe the RBI will go in for a 50 basis point hike. Part of it will be to address domestic concerns and part of it will also help mute the impact of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rate hikes.
- RBI continuously managing volatility because exchange rate management is not its mandate, but price stability through inflation containment is. The root cause of this rupee volatility is the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise rates. They are in an aggressive, hawkish mode, which is spurring foreign portfolio investors to move out of emerging markets. So, bridging the interest rate differential is the policy tool we should be using, because volatility management can also give a panic signal to the market.
- The Guidotti–Greenspan rule states that a country’s reserves should equal short-term external debt (one-year or less maturity), implying a ratio of reserves-to-short term debt of 1. The rationale is that countries should have enough reserves to resist a massive withdrawal of short term foreign capital.
2. The draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022
- This was much needed given that the three main legislations that occupy this domain are considerably outdated, with the most recent of these having been enacted more than 70 years back. These legislations are the Indian Telegraph Act enacted in 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act enacted in 1933 and the Tele graph Wires (Unlawful) Possession Act in 1950. The Indian Telecommunication Bill looks to repeal these legislations and “restructure the legal and regulatory frame work” for the telecommunications sector.
- Over-the-top (OTT) communication services refer to services that provide real time person-to-person telecommunication services. Some popular examples of these include messaging platforms like Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, Messenger, Duo, Google Meet etc.
- The current draft of the Bill expands the definition of “telecommunication services” to include OTT communication services. As a consequence of this, OTT telecommunication services may be subject to the same licensing conditions as TSPs. Under the extant framework, TSPS have to be is sued the Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) for them to be able to provide telecom services in India. If OTT communication services are required to obtain the same licence, they would also be subject to a number of conditions such as maintaining ‘know your customer’ details of their users, adhering to certain encryption regulations and allowing lawful access to the government of their equipment and networks.
- To curtail the ever-increasing incidence of spam calls and frauds, the draft Bill pro poses that the identity of the person communicating using any form of telecommunication services shall be available to the user receiving such communication.
- the phone number of the person making the communication is displayed, going for ward the name of the person would also be displayed. As per the Communications Minister, this facility would not only be available for voice calls but also for users of OTT communication services.
- The draft Bill obligates licence holders to identify the users of its service through a verifiable mode of identification. To en sure that a user provides correct details, the draft Bill penalises providing wrong identification details with a 50,000 fine and suspending the operation of the specific mobile number or barring the person from using the telecom service for a certain duration. Further, the draft Bill also provides that commercial communications which are advertising and promotional in nature should be made only with the prior consent of a subscriber.
- The TRAI was set up in 1997 as an independent and specialised regulator for the telecom sector. Given that the government is a major player in the telecom sector in various roles such as provisioning of services, licensing and allocating spectrum, the need was felt to institute a regulator that is at an arms’ length from the government to ensure a level playing field, fairness for private TSPS and for the protection of consumer interests.
- However, the current draft considerably dilutes TRAI’s position in a number of ways reducing it from a regulatory to a re commendatory body.
- First, the government would no longer be required to seek recommendations from the TRAI before is suinglicences.
- Second, it also removes the power of the TRAI to requisition from the government information or documents that are necessary to make such recommendations.
- The Department of Telecommunications (DOT) will no longer be required to refer back to TRAI the re commendations for reconsideration those recommendations that it does not agree with, as it was required to do previously.
- The removal of such powers would not be keeping with international practice where telecom regulators are endowed with a greater degree of independence to ensure that investor confidence and consumer protection is maintained in the market.
- A specific provision enabling the government to order suspension of internet power has been introduced through the draft Bill. Currently, suspension of internet services is ordered under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency and Public Safety) Rules, 2017 that have been made under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. However, civil society has raised concerns that the proposed pro vision gives the government power to order internet shutdowns while failing to in corporate safeguards such as judicial oversight that have been recommended by the Standing Committee on Information Technology.
- The draft Bill clears up a lot of confusion around the allocation of spectrum. It lays down that while the primary route for allocation of the spectrum is auction, when spectrum is to be allocated for certain functions of the government such as de fence or transportation, the administrative process is to be followed. It also allows the TSP to exploit its spectrum resource fully by enabling sharing, trading, leasing, surrendering or returning unutilised spectrum. The Bill also simplifies the process for restructuring, merging or demerging.
- On the issue of right of way (the legal framework for setting up telecom towers), it mandates that land owned by a public entity should be available expeditiously unless there is an express ground of refusal. This is likely to face opposition from States which have the power to administer lands within their territorial jurisdiction. Lastly, the draft allows the funds under the Universal Service Obligation Fund to be utilised for other purposes such as urban areas connectivity, research etc, expanding its current mandate from the limited aspect of enhancing rural connectivity.