Wednesday, 5th April 2023

Table of contents

1   Editorial of the day

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Reverting to Old Pension Scheme

2   Daily Current Affairs

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Salt Marshes Succumb to sea level

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Avalanches - Edukemy Current Affairs

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Open-source software (OSS) - Edukemy Current Affairs

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Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)

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Promoting Indian Culture through foreign students

●  

Large deposit of Rare earth elements

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CPTPP - Edukemy Current Affairs

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India’s Refugee Policy - Edukemy Current Affairs

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Editorial of the day

Reverting to Old Pension Scheme


Exam View: Old Pension Scheme; New Pension Scheme; Objective analysis of state budgets of 30 years; Higher pension under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995

In News: In recent times, some state governments have reversed the pension reform and returned to the financially burdensome and fiscally non-viable OPS. In other states, there is a growing political clamour to reinstate the OPS.

Decoding the editorial:

Key issue

  • Governments reformed the pension policy and switched to NPS as public employees’ life expectancy increased, and the state’s fiscal burden under the OPS began to rise exponentially.
    • More than 80 per cent of the labour force works in the informal sector with no job security and old-age financial support whereas the 5-6 percent of the workforce that worked for the government enjoyed job security and very generous post-retirement benefits.

Objective analysis of state budgets of 30 years (1990 to 2020)

  • The tradeoff within the state budget between development and non-development expenditure.
    • From 1990-91 to 2004-05, all states witnessed a dramatic decline in the development-to-non-development expenditure ratio from approximately 221 per cent to 118 per cent. This shift from development to non-development expenditure was primarily driven by an exponential increase in state spending on pensions, interest payments and debt servicing.
    • Reversing to the OPS, would therefore, result in a reallocation of resources away from the state’s development expenditure which benefits the poor, and towards a much smaller group of people who have benefitted from a secured and privileged job throughout their working life.
    • The increase in the ratio of pensions to expenditure on economic services was significantly more pronounced than the increase in the proportion of pensions to social services. The pension reforms were hence a watershed moment for the states. Economic services such as infrastructure and rural and urban development were affected more severely than social services. This reduces the productivity of the poor, further diminishing their future economic prospects.

  • The tradeoff in financing of the state budgets – through taxes or through deficit financing by borrowing.
    • From 1990 to 2004, the states’ revenues did not match the state’s increased expenditure. Therefore, the deficit of the state governments increased exponentially.
    • Analysis of the real per capita gross fiscal deficit (GFD) calculated from the state budgets, revealed that on a per-capita basis, the real GFD for all the states more than doubled from Rs 995 in 1990 to Rs 2,129 in 2003.
    • The GFD was financed primarily by borrowing from the markets, National Small Savings Fund (NSSF), and loans from the Centre. The fundamental tradeoff, therefore, was that increased state borrowing to finance non-development expenditure was effectively crowding out private investment.

Beyond the editorial: Higher pension under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995

Source:

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/reverting-to-old-pension-scheme-a-move-at-the-expense-of-the-poor-8538593/

Keywords: GS Paper-3: Indian Economy, Government Budgeting
Daily Current Affairs

Salt Marshes Succumb to sea level


In News: According to a new research, more than 90 per cent of the biologically productive salt marshes may soon succumb to sea level rise by the turn of the century.

What are salt Marshes?

Salt marshes are coastal wetlands that are flooded and drained by salt water brought in by the tides. They are marshy because the soil may be composed of deep mud and peat.

  • They are found in intertidal zones along coastlines, usually in protected areas such as estuaries or bays.
  • They are dominated by grasses and other salt-tolerant plants such as sedges, cordgrass, rushes, and mangroves.
  • In India, salt marshes are distributed in seven coastal states/UTs, Gujarat, Daman and Diu, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, with Gujarat having the highest area cover of 5% of total cover.
  • Salt marshes occur worldwide, particularly in middle to high latitudes such as temperate and arctic latitudes and are usually restricted to comparatively sheltered locations.

Key Findings of the report:

  • For the past 50 years, researchers from the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) have monitored the vegetative cover of the Great Sippewissett Marsh in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to examine the effects of increased nitrogen levels on the marsh grass
  • Increased nitrogen favors higher levels of vegetation and accretion of the marsh surface but these ecosystems won’t be able to outpace submergence from global sea level rise
  • Even under conservative sea level estimates more than 90 per cent of the salt marshes of the world will likely be submerged and disappear by the end of the century.
  • The only choice for salt marshes then would be to migrate landward. But even this choice can be impacted by anthropogenic activities and other factors.
  • Marshes all over the globe experience ‘coastal squeeze,’ where their movement is obstructed by sea level rise, anthropogenic activities and geographical factors.

Significance of salt Marshes:

  • Salt Marshes are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs and provide shelter, food and nursery grounds for more than 75% of coastal fisheries species including shrimp, crab and many finfish.
  • Salt Marshes are carbon sequestering systems (carbon sinks) and can store carbon produced by upland agriculture, forestry and other land uses.
  • Salt Marshes provide shoreline protection through absorbing and dispersing tidal surges and can reduce the destructive force of a tsunami.
  • Salt marshes and wetlands are the world’s water filters which trap pollutants such as phosphorus and heavy metals in their soils and also reduce runoff velocity thus limiting erosion.
  • Salt Marshes removes the phosphates and nitrates carried by runoff water through its vegetation and the action of anaerobic bacteria.

Vulnerability of Salt Marshes:

  • Climate change and increase in temperature is causing polar ice to melt and sea level to rise. This in turn leads to low lying salt marshes submerging into oceans.
  • Anthropogenic Activitie such as pollution, drainage and runoff from fertilized crops and pesticides which are used in agriculture introduce nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients and other toxins like mercury to the salt marshes and affect its biodiversity.
  • Land reclamations and construction of sea walls can also constrain a marsh and limit the potential for marine transgression.
  • Salt marshes are also prone to trace metal pollution due to industrial activities and deposition of their wastes in marshes. There is also a possibility of its biological uptake.

 

Source:

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/environment/more-than-90-of-the-world-s-salt-marshes-may-soon-succumb-to-sea-level-rise-study-88548#:~:text=Published%3A%20Thursday%2030%20March%202023&text=Salt%20marshes%20have%20been%20playing,according%20to%20a%20new%20research

Keywords: GS-3 Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Daily Current Affairs

Avalanches - Edukemy Current Affairs


In News: Seven people were killed and 20 have been rescued after five or six vehicles along with 20-30 tourists were hit by an avalanche near Nathu La in eastern Sikkim

About:

  • Avalanches are masses of snow, ice, and rocks that fall rapidly down a mountainside.
  • There are various kinds of avalanches, including rock avalanches (which consist of large segments of shattered rock), ice avalanches (which typically occur in the vicinity of a glacier), and debris avalanches (which contain a variety of unconsolidated materials, such as loose stones and soil).
  • The size of an avalanche can range from a small shifting of loose snow to the displacement of enormous slabs of snow.
  • In a slab avalanche, the mass of descending snow may reach a speed of 130 km (80 miles) per hour and is capable of destroying forests and small villages in its path.

Causes of Avalanches

  • Heavy Snowfall, Wind Direction, Vibration or Movement, Layers of Snow, Steep Slopes, Warm Temperature, Deforestation, Natural Causes (i.e., Earthquakes), and Human Activity.

Some important types of Avalanches

  • Slab avalanches: A slab avalanche occurs when the weak layer lies lower down in a snowpack.
  • Loose snow avalanches: Loose snow avalanches happen when poorly bonded surface snow slides downhill under its own weight.
  • Cornice Fall Avalanches: Cornices are overhanging masses of wind-deposited snow that protrude from sharp terrain features like ridges or peaks.
  • Powder Snow Avalanches: Powder Snow Avalanches are a mix of the other forms, Loose Snow and Slab.
  • Glide Avalanches: Glide occurs when the entire snowpack slowly slides as a unit on the ground, similar to a glacier.
  • Slush Avalanches: slush avalanche occurs in impermeable permafrost soil, which allows water to pool up, and occurs during rapid saturation of a thin, weak snowpack.

Nathula Pass:

  • Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas connecting Sikkim with Chumbi Valley of the Tibetan Plateau in China.
  • It is located ahead of Muguthang or Cho Lhamu (source of River Teesta).
  • It is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India; the others being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh at the trisection point of Uttarakhand–India, Nepal and China.
  • Nathu means 'listening ears', and La means 'pass'.
  • The other passes located in the state of Sikkim are Jelep La Pass, Donkia Pass, Chiwabhanjang Pass.

https://epaper.thehindu.com/ccidist-ws/th/th_delhi/issues/31318/OPS/GOPB2RUSK.1+GNAB2SNGH.1.html

 

Keywords: GS –1 Geography, Geographical Phenomenon
Daily Current Affairs

Open-source software (OSS) - Edukemy Current Affairs


In News: Elon Musk, who serves as both the Owner and CEO of Twitter, has fulfilled part of his commitment to making Twitter's algorithm available as an open source.

About

  • Open-source software (OSS) is a software that is distributed with its source code, making it available for use, modification, and distribution with its original rights.
    • Source code is the code computer programmers manipulate to control how a program or application behaves.
  • OSS typically includes a license that allows programmers to modify the software to best fit their needs and control how the software can be distributed.
  • The idea of making source code freely available originated in 1983 from an ideological movement informally founded by Richard Stallman, a programmer at MIT.
  • Examples of Linux, Mozilla Firefox, VLC media player, SugarCRM, etc.
  • Benefits of OSS:
    • The Open-source model is based on a more decentralized model of production, thus helps in reducing the monopoly of large commercial firms which are primarily centralized model of production for revenue maximization.
    • OSS will help in reducing the government’s cost of procurement of commercial software.
    • OSS can be modified and customised to suit spatial and temporal diversities.

Difference between Open Source Software and Proprietary Software

Source:

https://epaper.thehindu.com/ccidist-ws/th/th_delhi/issues/31318/OPS/GOPB2RUSI.1+GKVB2SAEU.1.html

 

Keywords: GS –3 Science and Technology, IT & Computers
Daily Current Affairs

Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)


In News: Parliamentary committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has asked CAT to decide cases pending for more than 10 years on a priority basis.

About:

  • CAT had been established (under Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985) under Article 323 -A for adjudication of disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services and posts.
  • Members of defence forces, officers and servants of the Supreme Court and secretarial staff of Parliament are not covered by it.
  • According to CAT (Procedure) Rules, 1987, every application should be heard and decided as far as possible, within six months from the date of its registration.

Objective and Composition:

  • The CAT is a specialist body consisting of Administrative Members and Judicial Members who by virtue of their specialized knowledge are better equipped to dispense speedy and effective justice.
  • A Chairman who has been a sitting or retired Judge of a High Court heads the CAT.
  • The sanctioned strength of members in CAT is 70 (35 judicial members and 35 administrative members), including the chairman.

Operating Principles:

  • The Tribunal is guided by the principles of natural justice in deciding cases and is not bound by the procedure prescribed by the Civil Procedure Code.
  • Under Section 17 of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985, the Tribunal has been conferred with the power to exercise the same jurisdiction and authority in respect of contempt of itself as a High Court.

Independence:

  • The conditions of service of the Chairman and Members are the same as applicable to a Judge of High Court as per the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act, 2006.

Appeals against Orders:

  • The orders of the CAT are challenged by way of a Writ Petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution before the respective High Court in whose territorial jurisdiction the Bench of the Tribunal is situated.

 

Source:
https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/parliament-panel-asks-central-administrative-tribunal-to-decided-cases-pending-for-over-10-years-3913481

 

Keywords: GS – 2 Polity, Government Policies & Interventions
Daily Current Affairs

Promoting Indian Culture through foreign students


In News: Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) plans to build its brand ambassador programme amongst foreign students in India.

About

  • The programme will build 'soft diplomacy' among nations and aims to harness the power of over 48,000 foreign students as brand ambassadors of India's heritage.
  • Indian missions abroad are now mandated to form alumni associations in the countries they are present in and organise activities inviting members to meet visiting Indian dignitaries.
  • In 2022, ICCR launched the India Alumni Portal to connect with foreign students around the world who have studied in India.

Major highlights:

  • Foreign Students in India:
    • The number of foreign students enrolled in Indian higher education institutions was 48,035 in 2020-21.
    • At present, People from more than 160 countries visit India to study with majority from Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, theS., the UAE, Bhutan, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Yemen.
  • E-3 Engagement Evenings:
    • The programme will begin from the academic year 2023-24 and will include visits to places of national importance.
    • The engagements will begin three to four months before the students finish their courses in various universities, institutes and agricultural colleges in India.
  • Collaboration with Departments:
    • ICCR will collaborate with the Khadi Commission, Indian Tourism Development Corporation and the Department of AYUSH to hold these evenings with the students.
    • The idea is to bring back business to India besides maintaining Indian linkages which will help past students reconnect with each other.
    • ICCR itself offers scholarships to over 6,000 students every year, and there are now 30,000+ ICCR alumni.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/how-iccr-plans-to-build-its-brand-ambassador-programme-amongst-foreign-students-in-india/article66689269.ece#:~:text=In%20April%202022%2C%20ICCR%20launched,and%20maintain%20their%20Indian%20links

 

Keywords: GS-2, Government policy and Intervention
Daily Current Affairs

Large deposit of Rare earth elements


In News: Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) has recently found large deposits of 15 rare earth elements (REE) in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district.

About

  • NGRI scientists were conducting a survey to look for non-traditional rocks like syenites in Anantapur and have successfully identified the host minerals.
  • Previously, 5.9 million tonnes of lithium reserves were found for the first time in the country in Jammu and Kashmir.

Key Points:

  • The major REEs identified include allanite, ceriate, thorite, columbite, tantalite, apatite, zircon, monazite, pyrochlore euxenite, and fluorite.
  • REEs of the lanthanide series are critical components used in electronic devices like cell phones, televisions, computers, automobiles, and various industrial applications.
  • REEs are also used in clean energy, aerospace, defence, and in manufacturing permanent magnets - a key component of modern electronics - wind turbines, jet aircraft, and several other products.
  • REEs are also widely used in high technology because of their luminescent and catalytic properties.
  • The potential hubs for these REE-bearing minerals are Dancherla, Peddavaduguru, Danduvaripalle, Reddypalle Chintalchervu, and the Pulikonda complex in Anantapur and Chittoor districts.

 

https://www.businesstoday.in/latest/trends/story/large-deposits-of-15-rare-earth-elements-used-in-phones-to-cars-found-in-andhra-report-376088-2023-04-04

 

Keywords: GS-1 Geography
Daily Current Affairs

CPTPP - Edukemy Current Affairs


In News: The U.K. has recently acceded to CPTPP. It is seen as a gateway to the Indo-Pacific region, which is expected to account for a majority of global economic growth in the future.

Key Highlights:

Benefits of joining CPTPP

  • More than 99% of British exports will have zero tariffs, including key markets such as cheese, cars, chocolate, machinery, gin, and whisky.
  • The deal is a "gateway" to the Indo-Pacific region, which will account for a majority (54%) of global economic growth in the future.
  • The K. will get a veto on whether China joins the treaty.
  • Services, which are a key K. export, accounted for 43% of exports to CPTPP countries last year.
  • K. firms will not need to establish a local office or be resident to provide services and will be able to operate on a par with firms in host countries.

Economic impact:

  • The U.K. government claims the deal will add £1.8 billion ($2.2 billion) annually to the U.K. economy in the long run which translates to a modest boost of 0.08% to GDP.
  • The benefits of the U.K. joining CPTPP are likely to be limited in cases where the U.K. already has bilateral trade agreements such as Australia and Japan.

CPTPP

  • It is a free trade agreement signed in 2018 between 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • It was originally called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but the United States withdrew from negotiations.
  • Member countries of the CPTPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
  • It aims to reduce tariffs, increase trade, and promote economic integration among its member countries.
  • It covers a range of issues, including trade in goods and services, intellectual property, labor and environmental standards, and investment.

 

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/uk-to-join-asia-pacific-trade-treaty-rishi-sunak-hails-post-brexit-freedom/article66683204.ece

 

Keywords: GS-3 Trade Agreements
Daily Current Affairs

India’s Refugee Policy - Edukemy Current Affairs


In News: Central government scheme to provide financial assistance of ₹5.5 lakh per family to over 5,000 Hindu and Sikh families who migrated to India from Pakistan’s West Punjab after the 1947 partition, has hit rough weather.

About India Refugee Policy

  • India lacks specific legislation to address the problem of refugees. The Foreigners Act, 1946, fails to address the peculiar problems faced by refugees as a class. It also gives unbridled power to the Central government to deport any foreign citizen.
  • The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA), controversially grants citizenship only to immigrants from specific religious groups, namely Hindus, Christians, Jains, Parsis, Sikhs, and Buddhists who have faced persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Muslims are not included under this Act.
  • India is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the key legal documents pertaining to refugee protection.
  • In the case of National Human Rights Commission vs. State of Arunachal Pradesh (1996), the Supreme Court of India ruled that foreign citizens, along with citizens, have the right to equality and the right to life, among other fundamental rights.

UN Refugee Convention, 1951                                             

  • The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was the first comprehensive attempt to define refugees and charted a detailed guideline for host countries to ensure the adequate protection and preservation of the rights of all refugees.
  • It puts out clearly who a refugee is and what kind of assistance, rights and legal protection a refugee is entitled to receive.
  • It also lays down the obligations of refugees towards the host countries.
  • The Convention also specifies certain categories of people, such as war criminals, who do not qualify for refugee status.

 

Source:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/financial-package-from-centre-for-west-pakistan-refugees-faces-many-hurdles/article66683750.ece

 

Keywords: GS – 2 International Relation
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