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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 03 February 2020

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 03 February 2020

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

1. Bodo Language.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Finance Commission of India.

2. Common Wealth

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Quantum computing gets funds.

2. Green India Mission.

3. World Wetlands Day 2019.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Tyler Prize for the environment.

2. New mascot for National Games: flame-throated bulbul.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Bodo Language

What to study?

For Prelims: Bodo Language and it’s scripts.

For Mains: Significance, need for protection.

Context: Bodo language is one of the key thrust areas in the Bodo Accord which was signed recently.

Bodo language- Key facts:

  1. Estimated to have 1.5 million speakers (Census 2011), Bodo is listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
  2. It is spoken in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and West Bengal.
  3. While Bodo is officially written in the Devanagri script, the language has a history of having been written in at least three different scripts — until in 1974, the Government recognised Devanagari as its official script. In the first decade of the 20th century, Bodos started writing in the Assamese/Bangla script. Then they also used Roman Script.
  4. In the pre-13th century era, it was called Deodhai.

Promises in the accord regarding Bodo language:

  1. It was only in 2003, under the then Bodo Accord, that the language was listed in the Eighth Schedule. And it was the first tribal language to be included in the Eight Schedule.
  2. In Assam, it has enjoyed the status of official associate language in undivided Goalpara district since 1986.
  3. Now the 2020 Accord makes Bodo the associate official language throughout Assam.
  4. The new Accord also promises to establish a separate directorate for Bodo medium schools, provincialise schools and colleges in the BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District) and establish a Cultural Complex-cum-Centre of Excellence in Kokrajhar for protection and promotion of the language.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered:  Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Finance Commission of India

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About FC- roles, objectives, functions, criteria used and need for reforms.

Context: The report of the Fifteenth Finance Commission, along with an Action Taken Report, has been tabled in Parliament. The Commission, headed by N K Singh, had submitted its Report to the President in December 2019.

What is the Finance Commission?

The Finance Commission is constituted by the President under article 280 of the Constitution, mainly to give its recommendations on distribution of tax revenues between the Union and the States and amongst the States themselves.

Two distinctive features of the Commission’s work involve redressing the vertical imbalances between the taxation powers and expenditure responsibilities of the centre and the States respectively and equalization of all public services across the States.

What are the functions of the Finance Commission?

It is the duty of the Commission to make recommendations to the President as to:

  1. the distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes which are to be, or may be, divided between them and the allocation between the States of the respective shares of such proceeds;
  2. the principles which should govern the grants-in-aid of the revenues of the States out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
  3. the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats and Municipalities in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State;
  4. any other matter referred to the Commission by the President in the interests of sound finance.

The Commission determines its procedure and have such powers in the performance of their functions as Parliament may by law confer on them.

Who appoints the Finance Commission and what are the qualifications for Members?

The Finance Commission is appointed by the President under Article 280 of the Constitution.

As per the provisions contained in the Finance Commission [Miscellaneous Provisions] Act, 1951 and The Finance Commission (Salaries & Allowances) Rules, 1951, the Chairman of the Commission is selected from among persons who have had experience in public affairs, and the four other members are selected from among persons who:

  1. are, or have been, or are qualified to be appointed as Judges of a High Court; or
  2. have special knowledge of the finances and accounts of Government; or
  3. have had wide experience in financial matters and in administration; or
  4. have special knowledge of economics.

When was the first Commission Constituted and how many Commissions have been Constituted so far?

The First Finance Commission was constituted vide Presidential Order dated 22.11.1951 under the chairmanship of Shri K.C. Neogy on 6th April, 1952.  Fifteenth Finance Commissions have been Constituted so far at intervals of every five years.

Why is there a need for a Finance Commission?

The Indian federal system allows for the division of power and responsibilities between the centre and states.  Correspondingly, the taxation powers are also broadly divided between the centre and states.  State legislatures may devolve some of their taxation powers to local bodies.

Need for permanent status:

Finance commissions have over the past several decades adopted different approaches with regard to principles of tax devolution, grants to be given to states and fiscal consolidation issues. In other words, there has to be continuity and change between finance commissions.

There is a need to ensure broad consistency between Finance Commissions so that there is some degree of certainty in the flow of funds, especially to the states. This has become even more critical in the post GST scenario.

If it is given permanent status, the Commission can function as a leaner entity in the intervening period till the next Finance Commission is set up in a full-fledged manner. During the intervening period, it can also address issues arising from implementation of the recommendations of the finance commission.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Commonwealth

What to study?

For Prelims: About commonwealth.

For Mains: Relevance of Commonwealth today and the need for reorganization.

Context: The Maldives re-joined the Commonwealth, more than three years after the Indian Ocean island nation quit amid mounting criticism of its human rights.

In 2016, the Maldives pulled out of the Commonwealth.

Maldives has been formally reinstated into the Commonwealth as its 54th member state.

About Commonwealth of Nations:

  1. The Commonwealth of Nations, at one time known as British Commonwealth, is an organisation of fifty three states that were principally below the colonial rule of British Government. They came into existence with the proclamation of sovereignty of the state from the colonial rule of British Empire and were later given self-governance.
  2. It proclaims that the Commonwealth nations are “free and equal.” The insignia of this Commonwealth Association is Queen Elizabeth II who is considered the Supreme of the Commonwealth nations.
  3. The member states of the commonwealth are not legally liable or bound to each other. They are rather united by language, history, culture, likeness of the democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
  4. Their values are listed down within the Commonwealth Charter and the hands of harmony towards the member states are extended by the Commonwealth Games held every four years.
  5. Former British mandates that did not become members of the Commonwealth are Egypt, Transjordan, Iraq, British Palestine, Sudan, British Somaliland, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Key facts:

Former name — British Commonwealth.

Composition: intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire.

It operates by intergovernmental consensus of the member states.

Established in 1949 by the London Declaration.

Structure: Head of the Commonwealth — Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth. The position is symbolic.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Quantum computing gets funds

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: What is it? Significance.

Context: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Union Budget for 2020-21, presented on February 1, 2020, proposed Rs 8,000 crore over five years for National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications. 

What are Quantum Technologies?

Quantum technologies comprise quantum computing, quantum communication, quantum optics, quantum information processing, quantum internet and quantum artificial intelligence.

Need for special attention:

  • The interest and excitement about quantum computer is because of its power to dabble with complex calculations involved in fields like cyber-security which digital computers now deal with.
  • Quantum communications can enhance (cyber) security, provide unique fingerprints and also increase available bandwidth for internet networks.

What is a quantum computer?

  • Quantum computers work by harnessing the properties of quantum mechanics.
  • Quantum computers use logical units called quantum bits, or qubits for short, that can be put into a quantum state where they can simultaneously represent both 0 and 1.

Difference between classical and quantum computers?

  • Classical computers process information in a binary format, called bits, which can represent either a 0 or 1.
  • While the bits in a classical computer all operate independently from one another, in a quantum computer, the status of one qubit effects the status of all the other qubits in the system, so they can all work together to achieve a solution.

How the result is obtained?

While a conventional computer outputs the same answer to a problem every time you run a calculation, the outputs of a quantum computer are probabilistic. That means it does not always produce the same answer. So to use a quantum computer, you have to run a calculation through the system thousands or even millions of times, and the array of outputs converge around the answer that is most likely to be correct.

Sources: down to earth.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Green India Mission

What to study?

For Prelims: GIM- Key features, NAPCC.

For Mains: Performance analysis of GIM, challenges and concerns highlighted, need for reforms.

Context: A sum of Rs 343.08 crore has been released under the Green India Mission (GIM) for undertaking afforestation activities over an area of 126,916.32 hectare (ha) in 13 states, according to the Economic Survey 2019-20.

About Green India Mission:

GIM is one of the eight missions launched under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

  • GIM, launched in February 2014, is aimed at protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures.

 Objectives of the Mission:

  1. To protect, restore and enhance India’s falling forest cover.
  2. To respond to climate change through a combination of adaptation as well as mitigation measures.
  3. To increased forest-based livelihood incomes.
  4. To enhance annual Carbon sequestration by 50 to 60 million tonnes in the year 2020.

Goals:

  1. Improvement in quality of forest cover and ecosystem services of forests /non-forests, including moderately dense, open forests, degraded grassland and wetlands (5 m ha).
  2. Eco-restoration/afforestation of scrub, shifting cultivation areas, cold deserts, mangroves, ravines and abandoned mining areas (1.8 m ha).
  3. Improvement in forest and tree cover in urban/peri-urban lands (0.20 m ha)
  4. Improvement in forest and tree cover on marginal agricultural lands/fallows and other non-forest lands under agroforestry /social forestry (3 m ha)
  5. Management of public forest/ non-forests areas (taken up under the Mission) by the community institutions
  6. Adoption of improved fuelwood-use efficiency and alternative energy devices by project-area households.
  7. Diversification of forest-based livelihoods of about 3 million households living in and around forests.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics covered: Conservation related issues.

World Wetlands Day 2019

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Significance of the day, wetlands conservation related issues.

 ContextWorld Wetlands Day is celebrated on February 2 each year to mark the Day the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian City of Ramsar in 1971.

India is a party to the Convention since 1982 and committed to the Ramsar approach of wise use of wetlands.

The theme for 2020 is ‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’.

Status of wetlands in India:

The bad news is that India’s cities have lost 25 ha of wetland for every one sq. km’s increase of built-up area in the last four decades.

The good news is that 10 more wetland sites around India have been added to the Ramsar Convention, rendering them sites of ‘national importance’.

Wetlands in India:

The country has over 757,000 wetlands with a total wetland area of 15.3 million ha, accounting for nearly 4.7% of the total geographical area of the country.

India has 37 Ramsar sites now, covering an area of 1.07 million ha. The latest additions include Maharashtra’s first Ramsar site, the Nandur Madhmeshwar bird sanctuary; three more from Punjab (in Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve and Nangal); and six more from Uttar Pradesh (in Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and Sarsai Nawar).

Significance of wetlands:

Wetlands provide a wide range of important ecosystem services, such as food, water, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control, microclimate regulation, landscape aesthetics and, of course, livelihood opportunities. They are in fact a major source of water and the principal place from which India’s cities receive their freshwater.

Threats:

  • Increasing urbanisation has significantly reduced the amount of area under wetlands.
  • According to an assessment undertaken by Wetlands International South Asia (WISA), between 1970 and 2014, cities have rapidly degraded wetlands, to the tune of 25 ha per sq. km of built-up area.
  • The biggest offenders were the metropolitans of New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad, which treat wastelands as their private dumping grounds.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


 

Tyler Prize for the environment:

Context: The Tyler Prize 2020 has been awarded to two pioneers who quantified the economic value of our natural environment. Of two, one is from India- Pavan Sukhdev.

About the Prize:

  1. Established in 1973 by the late John and Alice Tyler.
  2. This global environmental prize recognizes individuals who have contributed in an outstanding manner to the scientific knowledge and public leadership to preserve and enhance the environment of the world. 
  3. Recipients encompass the spectrum of environmental concerns, including environmental policy, health, air and water pollution, ecosystem disruption and loss of biodiversity, and energy resources.

 

New mascot for National Games: flame-throated bulbul:

Context: The flame-throated bulbul, also called the Rubigula, was chosen as the mascot of the 36th National Games to be held in Goa because it is the State bird.

Key facts:

  • Endemic to southern peninsular India.
  • IUCN status:Least Concern.
  • Listed in Schedule – IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.