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Today’s Current Affairs Diary| A Compilation of Today’s CA Related Articles

Today’s Current Affairs Diary

Today’s Important Prelims Bits 11-05-2022

COP 15

In News: The 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) started in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on May 09, 2022.

Theme: The 9 – 20 May event, themed “Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity,” aims to be a call to action to ensure that land, the bedrock of the planet, continues to benefit both present and future generations.

Focus Area:  Top on the Conference agenda are “drought, land restoration, and related enablers such as land rights, gender equality, and youth empowerment.” The summit will also explore links between land and other key sustainability issues, including the restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030, and future-proofing people against the impacts of disaster risks linked to climate change.

What do the Data Say?

  • According to the UN, up to 40 per cent of all ice-free land is degraded, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity, and livelihoods.
  • More so, by 2050, business as usual will result in the degradation of a further 16 million square kilometers, with 69 gigatonnes of carbon emitted into the atmosphere.
  • Meanwhile, a recently-released UNCCD “Global Land Outlook” report shows that more than half of the global GDP (roughly $44 trillion USD) is moderately or highly reliant on natural capital, which includes land, water, and biodiversity.

About Save Soil Movement

  • Save Soil is a global movement launched by Sadhguru Sri Jaggi Vasudev, to address the soil crisis by bringing together people from around the world to stand up for Soil Health, and supporting leaders of all nations to institute national policies and actions toward increasing the organic content in cultivable Soil.
  • The spiritual leader, who is currently on a 100-day, 30,000-km lone motorcycle journey through Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East as part of the ‘Save Soil’ initiative, is the keynote speaker for the 15th session of the Conference of Parties (COP15) at UNCCD.
  • The Isha Foundation leader began his journey in London on 21 March, the Save Soil Movement has garnered global interest and support.
  • The Movement is supported by world leaders, leading environmental organizations and scientists, soil experts and several UN bodies. Political parties and leaders from more than 70 countries have already pledged to save soil in their countries.

Thrissur Pooram

In News: An unprecedented crowd, literally a sea of humanity, converged at the Thekkinkadu Maidan in the heart of Kerala’s Thrissur city to savour the fun and frolic of Thrissur Pooram on May 10, 2022.

About the Festival: A resplendent festival celebrated with a grand display of caparisoned elephants, dazzling parasols, and percussion music, the Thrissur Pooram is a magnificent spectacle merging the spiritual and cultural essence of Kerala.

When & Where?: Celebrated in the Malayalam month of medam (April-May), the pooram is held at the Thekkinkadu Maidanam in Thrissur.

Who Started?: Considered to be the mother of all poorams, this yearly temple festival was the brain child of Shakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of Kochi, who organised the festival with the participation of 10 temples (Paramekkavu, Thiruvambadi Kanimangalam, Karamucku, Laloor, Choorakottukara, Panamukkampally, Ayyanthole, Chembukkavu, Neythilakavu).

Kudamattom ceremony: The festival sports an enthralling line-up of vibrantly decked up elephants and is marked by the kudamattom ceremony. Involving swift and rhythmic changing of brightly coloured and sequined parasols, the kudamattom ceremony is one among the highlights and is a keenly watched event.

Ilanjithara melam: a highly bewitching performance of traditional instruments which lifts the thousands gathered to a state of euphoria and bliss. Around 250 odd artistes participate in this traditional orchestra led by chenda artistes and the spirit is mirrored by the thousands of spectators who wave their hands in accordance to the rhythm generated by the chenda, kurumkuzhal, kombu and elathalam (traditional instruments of Kerala). The finale is marked by a grand fireworks show.

Defence investiture ceremony

In News: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, presented Gallantry Awards and Distinguished Service Decorations at the Defence Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 10, 2022.

Who Conducts? Section D(Ceremonials) of the Ministry of Defence is primarily responsible for conduct of national functions like the Republic Day Parade, Beating Retreat Ceremony, Martyrs’ Day and Independence Day Flag Hoisting Ceremony in coordination with various executing agencies.

Section D also organizes the Defence Investiture Ceremonies for the presentation of gallantry and distinguished service awards at Rashtrapati Bhawan in association with the President’s Secretariat.

About Gallantry Awards

  • Param Vir Chakra – For most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of self sacrifice in the presence of the enemy.
  • Maha Vir Chakra – For conspicuous gallantry in the presence of the enemy.
  • Vir Chakra – For gallantry in the presence of the enemy.
  • Ashoka Chakra – For most conspicuous bravery or some act of daring or pre-eminent valour or self sacrifice otherwise than in the face of the enemy.
  • Kirti Chakra – For conspicuous gallantry other wise than in the face of the enemy.
  • Shaurya Chakra – For gallantry otherwise than in the face of the enemy.

About Distinguished Service Awards

  • Param Vishisht Seva Medal – For distinguished service of the most exceptional order.
  • Ati Vishisht Seva Medal – For distinguished service of an exceptional order.
  • Vishisht Seva Medal – For distinguished service of a high order.
  • Sarvottam Yudh Seva Medal – For distinguished service of the most exceptional order during War/conflict/hostilities.
  • Uttam Yudh Seva Medal – For distinguished service of an exceptional order during war/conflict/hostilities.
  • Yuddh Seva Medal – For distinguished service of a high order during war/conflict/hostilities .
  • Sena/Nao Sena/Vayu – Awarded for both i.e. courageous acts as well as Sena Medal for devotion to duty.(SM, NM, VM)

National Technology Day

In News: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has expressed gratitude to our brilliant scientists and their efforts that led to the successful Pokhran tests in 1998.

About National Technology Day: National Technology Day is celebrated on May 11 every year to honour the contributions of India’s scientific community including scientists, researchers and engineers. The significance of the date lies in the series of technological advancements the country achieved on the day decades earlier. The first National Technology Day was observed in 1999.

About Pokhran Nuclear Test

  • On May 11, 1998, India broke into the small group of countries that hold nuclear weapons.
  • On that day, India successfully carried out nuclear tests at the army’s Pokhran test range in Rajasthan.
  • In doing so, India became the sixth country to join the ‘Nuclear Club’.
  • The tests were led by the late A P J Abdul Kalam, an aerospace scientist who went on to become India’s eleventh President.
  • The tests were the second instance of nuclear testing in India after the first, code-named “Smiling Buddha”, in 1974.

About Hansa-3

  • On the same day in 1998, India tested its first indigenous aircraft Hansa-3 which took flight in Bengaluru.
  • The aircraft was meant for surveillance, pilot training, and other reconnaissance purposes. The day also saw the successful test firing of the surface-to-air missile Trishul.

Technology Development Board (TDB)

  • Since 1999, the Technology Development Board (TDB)—a statutory body within the Department of Science and Technology at the Centre—has been celebrating the day by honouring technological innovations that have added to the national growth.
  • Each year the Board organises an event where the President of India confers awards to scientists for their contributions. Various seminars and workshops are also held.
  • The Board also decides a theme for National Technology Day each year. The theme for 2022 is “Integrated Approach in Science & Technology for Sustainable Future”. 

 

Social Security Schemes in India

Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Social Security Schemes in India in News

  • Recently, the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMSBY) and Atal Pension Yojana (APY) completed 7 years of providing social security net to the vulnerable sections of India Population.
  • PMJJBY, PMSBY and APY schemes have provided affordable insurance and security to people (Jan Suraksha) of India.

Key Points about PMJJBY, PMSBY and APY

  • Launch: PMJJBY, PMSBY andAPY were launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 9th May, 2015 from Kolkata, West Bengal.
  • About: These three social security schemes are dedicated to the welfare of the citizens, recognising the need for securing human life from unforeseen risks/losses and financial uncertainties.
    • PMJJBY and PMSBY provide access to low cost life/accidental insurance cover to the people,
    • APY provides an opportunity for saving in the present for getting a regular pension in old age.
  • Mandate: In order to ensure that the people from the unorganised section of the country are financially secure, the Government launched-
    • Two insurance schemes
      • Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and
      • Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY)
    • Atal Pension Yojana (APY) to cover the exigencies in the old age.

Features and Achievement of Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY)

  • About PMJJBY Scheme: PMJJBY is a one-year life insurance scheme renewable from year to year offering coverage for death due to any reason.
  • PMJJBY Eligibility: Individuals in the age group of 18-50 years having a savings bank or a post office account are entitled to enroll under the scheme.
    • People who join the scheme before completing 50 years of age can continue to have the risk of life covered up to age of 55 years upon payment of premium.
  • PMJJBY Benefits: Life cover of Rs. 2 Lakh in case of death due to any reason against a premium of Rs. 330/- per annum.
  • PMJJBY Enrolment: Enrolments under the scheme can be done by visiting the branch/ BC point or website of the bank of the account holder or at the post office in case of post office savings bank account.
    • The premium under the scheme is auto debited every year from the subscriber’s bank account based on a one-time mandate from the account holder.
  • PMJJBY Achievements: As on 27.04.2022, the cumulative enrolments under the scheme have been more than 12.76 crore and an amount of Rs. 11,522 crore has been paid for 5,76,121 claims.

Feature and Achievements of Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY)

  • PMSBY Scheme: PMSBY is a one-year accidental insurance scheme renewable from year to year offering coverage for death or disability due to accident.
  • PMSBY Eligibility: Individuals in the age group of 18-70 years having a savings bank or a post office account are entitled to enroll under the scheme.
  • PMSBY Benefits: Accidental death cum disability cover of Rs.2 lakh (Rs.1 lakh in case of partial disability) for death or disability due to an accident.
  • PMSBY Enrolment: Enrolment under the scheme can be done by visiting the branch/ BC point or website of the bank of the account holder or at the post office in case of post office savings bank account.
    • The premium under the scheme is auto debited every year from the subscriber’s bank account based on a one-time mandate from the account holder.
  • PMSBY Achievements: As on 27.04.2022, the cumulative enrolments under the scheme have been more than 28.37 crore and an amount of Rs. 1,930 crore has been paid for 97,227 claims.

Features and Achievements of Atal Pension Yojana (APY)

  • Background: The Atal Pension Yojana (APY) was launched to create a universal social security system for all Indians, especially the poor, the under-privileged and the workers in the unorganised sector.
    • It is an initiative of the Government to provide financial security and cover future exigencies for the people in the unorganized sector.
    • APY is administered by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) under the overall administrative and institutional architecture of the National Pension System (NPS).
  • APY Eligibility: APY is open to all bank account holders in the age group of 18 to 40 years and the contributions differ, based on pension amount chosen.
  • APY Benefits: Subscribers would receive the guaranteed minimum monthly pension of Rs. 1000 or Rs. 2000 or Rs. 3000 or Rs. 4000 or Rs. 5000 at the age of 60 years, based on the contributions made by the subscriber after joining the scheme.
  • Disbursement of the APY Scheme Benefits: The monthly pension is available to the subscriber, and after him to his spouse .
    • After death of subscriber and his/her spouse, the pension corpus, as accumulated at age 60 of the subscriber, would be returned to the nominee of the subscriber.
  • Contribution by Central Government: The minimum pension would be guaranteed by the Government.
    • This means, if, the accumulated corpus based on contributions earns a lower than estimated return on investment and is inadequate to provide the minimum guaranteed pension, the Central Government would fund such inadequacy.
    • Alternatively, if the returns on investment are higher, the subscribers would get enhanced pensionary benefits.
  • Payment frequency: Subscribers can make contributions to APY on monthly/ quarterly / half-yearly basis.
  • Withdrawal from the Scheme: Subscribers can voluntarily exit from APY subject to certain conditions, on deduction of Government co-contribution and return/interest thereon.
  • Achievements: As on 27.04.2022 more than 4 crore individuals have subscribed to the scheme.

MPLADS UPSC: Relevance

  • GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

MPLADS India: Context

  • According to the revised procedure for flow of funds under the CSS (Centrally-Sponsored Scheme), including Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), of the Finance Ministry, all interest earnings should be compulsorily remitted to the Consolidated Fund of India.

MPLADS MoSPI: Key points

  • The Union Government has proposed that any interest accrued on the ₹5 crore annual funds that are allotted to each MP for their local area development scheme (MPLADS) has to be deposited back to the Centre.
  • The changes proposed are aimed at timely and efficient utilisation of funds.
  • Notably, the grant of funds under the MPLADS scheme was suspended for nearly 19 months due to Covid-19 pandemic and it was restored by the cabinet in November in 2021.

What is MPLADS?

  • MPLADS full form: Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme.
  • MPLADS meaning: The MPLAD Scheme was launched in 1993 to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets.
  • The Scheme was launched to provide basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs to be taken up in their Constituencies.
  • The Scheme was initially under the control of Ministry of Rural Development. It was later transferred to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

About MPLADS

  • MPLADS is a centrally sponsored scheme fully funded by the Government of India.
  • The funds released under the Scheme are non-lapsable. The annual entitlement per MP per Constituency is Rs. 5 crore which is released by the Nodal Ministry in two instalments of Rs. 2.5 crore each.
  • The second instalment of the MPLADS funds is released subject to the fulfilment of the following eligibility criteria
    • the unsanctioned balance amount is less than Rs.1 crore;
    • the unspent balance is less than Rs. 2.5 crore.
    • Utilization Certificate of the previous financial year and Audit Certificate for the funds released for MP concerned in the year prior to previous year have been furnished by District Authority.
  • The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the State from which they are elected.
  • Nominated Members of Rajya Sabha may recommend works for implementation anywhere in the country.
  • An MP can recommend eligible works upto Rs. 25 lakh per year outside his/her jurisdiction, provided that such contribution will not be allowed for NGOs.
  • 15% of MPLADS funds are to be utilized for areas inhabited by SC population and 7.5% for areas inhabited by ST population.
  • The time frame for completion of works should be stipulated to the implementing agency and should not normally exceed one year.

The Learning Grounds of Ukraine- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: International Relations- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

The Learning Grounds of Ukraine

  • Russia-Ukraine War is continuing for over two months without any conclusion as of now, it is time to draw some interim lessons, especially for India.

Russia-Ukraine War Updates

  • Mariupol (Ukraine) has fallen (sans the Azovstov steel mill) into the hands of Russia Troops.
  • The existence of the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ fighter pilot has been officially denied by Ukraine,
  • There are media reports that Europe is trying to fully phase out its dependency on Russian energy and that some embassies are reopening in Kyiv.

Learning for India from Russia-Ukraine war

  • Alliances matter: Alliances do matter in this inter-connected world no matter how powerful a country may be.
    • A long-term sustainable view that looks after India’s interests through linkages with other like-minded nations is therefore vital, especially since our neighbourhood is not benign.
  • Importance of hard power: Though it is too early to say that a truncated Ukrainian nation is what would emerge when the conflict ends, what we have witnessed is that brute ‘power’ is important for a country.
    • This is a vital lesson for India.
  • Importance of Intelligence: American intelligence was right about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions to go to war.
    • The high-resolution satellite imagery is now commercially available to any nation that is willing to pay levels the playing field a bit in modern warfare.
    • Learning: While it is important to have tactical knowledge of enemy dispositions, what is much more vital is to discern the thought process of the adversary’s leadership.
  • Importance of Able Leadership: Leadership counts and good leaders have an intangible positive impact.
    • This can be seen from the the visuals and pep talks tweeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy these past months, as he conveyed two vital messages from the streets of Ukraine.
      • The first was that the Ukrainian leadership was intact and
      • Second, their executive head was in the fight as much as the citizens were; that he has never appeared in a business suit, and always in combat fatigues (even while meeting foreign leaders), has added a halo to his standing.
    • Contrast this with the flight of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as the Taliban closed in on Kabul – resistance collapsed and Afghan soldiers melted away.
  • Comprehensive National Power (CNP): CNP is a true yardstick of a nation’s deterrence capability and its ability to fight if deterrence fails, as it takes into account-
    • social and political stability,
    • aspects of economic strength,
    • natural resources,
    • Geography,
    • R&D capability,
    • Manufacturing capacity and
    • Quality of its national leadership.

Securing India’s Geo-Strategic Interest- Way Forward

  • For India, surrounded by two adversarial nations, a true appraisal is necessary since the government’s well-meaning aatmanirbharta drive has still to reach take-off speed.
    • New Delhi has to allocate available resources to imports that would still take place (especially in the defence sector) while domestic capability and capacity is ramped up in parallel.
  • Social cohesion is another vital ingredient in CNP and needs the leadership’s focused attention at all times in our multicultural and multi-religious polity.

Conclusion

  • With international relations in a churn, a new rising power in China, Russia trying to regain its lost status and Pakistan not turning any friendlier, it is imperative that there be no chink in India’s deterrence armour.

National Physical Literacy Mission 

Relevance

  • GS 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

National Physical Literacy Mission: Context

  • Recently, Supreme Court has asked the Centre and States to respond to a report recommending sports to be made a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.

National Physical Literacy Mission: Key points

  • Earlier, the report submitted by Gopal Sankaranarayanan—the court’s amicus curiae—suggested that the narrow phrase ‘sport’ be replaced by ‘physical literacy’, which is a term firmly established as a right in the leading sporting nations of the world.
  • The report was filed in a PIL to amend the Constitution to make sports a fundamental right and amend the Directive Principles of State Policy to include an obligation to strive for promotion of sports education.
    • The PIL had also urged that sports should be transferred to the Concurrent List to facilitate cooperative work between the Centre and states.

What is National Physical Literacy Mission (NPLI)?

  • Now, the apex court has directed the Centre to respond to the report’s view to establish a ‘National Physical Literacy Mission.
  • National Physical Literacy Mission meaning: NPLI is expected to give effect to the right by establishing and implementing a responsibilities’ matrix that includes curriculum design, compliance monitoring, and review, grievance redressal and self-correction mechanisms which starts at the school level to groom children for various sports.
  • The report was of the view that all school boards including CBSE, ICSE, State Boards, IB, IGCSE should be directed to ensure that from the academic year commencing 2022-2023, at least 90 minutes of every school day will be dedicated to free play and games.
  • The report suggested that State governments should ensure that from the current academic year, all non-residential colleges and schools should compulsorily allow access during non-working hours to neighbourhood children to use their playgrounds and sports facilities for free, subject to basic norms of identification, security and care.
  • The policy will include the institution’s commitment to a ‘no-child-left-behind’ approach that ensures that the institution’s physical literacy activities are designed and delivered in a manner that is inclusive of students with physical and mental disabilities, girls, students from marginalized economic and social groups.
  • The committee had asked the apex court to direct the Ministry of Education, to form an empowered committee to devise a strategic blueprint for actualising the fundamental right.
  • The report also opined that 180 days’ time should be given to educational institutions, which hosts students for more than 10 hours a week, to publish and disseminate to parents/guardians a ‘Physical Literacy Policy’ and create an internal committee to address specific cases where there is a failure in responsibilities to deliver the right to physical literacy of students.

 

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 

Relevance

  • GS 3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code: Context

  • According to the data published by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), recoveries by financial creditors shrank by 39.3 per cent as of March 2021, and was as high as 46 per cent till March 2020.

Shrinking recoveries in IBC: Key points

  • Recoveries by financial regulators have dropped significantly in the past two years owing to the pandemic, resulting in larger haircuts for them.
    • A haircut, in the context of loan recoveries, is the difference between the actual dues from a borrower and the amount he settles with the bank.
  • Recoveries, however, are still higher than the other measures.
  • The number of new cases admitted under the insolvency process has also gone down in FY22, with only 834 cases admitted as against 2,000 cases in FY20.

Reasons for drop in recoveries

  • COVID induced lockdown caused loss of investor appetite for stressed assets
  • Delays in resolution process due to legal battles not only in Law Tribunal and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, but also high courts of India.
  • Some of the corporate debtors had seen substantial value erosion, which impacts recovery for financial creditors.

What is Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code?

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) was enacted in 2016, to reduce the mounting non-performing loans.
  • IBC was expected to establish a consolidated framework for insolvency resolution of corporations, partnership firms and individuals in a time-bound manner.
  • The IBC Code seeks to tackle the non-performing asset (NPA) problem in two ways.
  • Firstly, behavioural change on part of the debtors to ensure sound business decision-making and prevent business failures is encouraged.
  • Secondly, it envisages a process through which financially ailing corporate entities are put through a rehabilitation process and brought back up on their feet.
  • Under the IBC, the Indian insolvency regime shifted from ‘debtor-in-possession’ to ‘creditor-in-control’.
  • The creditor-in-control model hands control of the debtor to its creditors and relies upon the managerial skills of a newly appointed management to take over an ailing company and ensure business continuance.

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