Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 1st March, 2021

Daily news will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

  1. Sugamya Bharat App” and Handbook “Access – The Photo Digest”

Why in news?

Union Minister for Social justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot will virtually launch “Sugamya Bharat App” and a handbook entitled “Access – The Photo Digest” through video conference on 2nd March, 2021.

Key points are:

– The App and the handbook have been developed by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

– The Mobile App can be downloaded from Play Store by Android users. The IoS version of the App will be available by 15th March 2021.

– Sugamya Bharat APP — a Crowdsourcing Mobile Application is a means for sensitising and enhancing accessibility in the 3 pillars of the Accessible India Campaign i.e. built environment, transportation sector and ICT ecosystem in India.

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– The app provides for five main features, 4 of which are directly related to enhancing accessibility, while the fifth is a special feature meant only for Divyangjan for COVID related issues.

– The accessibility related features are: the registration of complaints of inaccessibility across the 3 broad pillars of the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyaan; positive feedback of examples and best practices worth emulating being shared by people as jan-bhagidhari; Departmental updates; and guidelines and circulars related to accessibility.

– The Sugamya Bharat App is a simple to use Mobile App with an easy registration process, requiring only 3 mandatory fields, namely, Name, Mobile number and Email-id. Registered users can raise issues related to accessibility being faced.

– The App has been provided with several user-friendly features like easy drop-down menus, videos in Hindi and English, along with sign language interpretation have been added demonstrating the process of registration and uploading complaints with photographs.

– The App is made accessible for ease of use for persons with disabilities also with features such as font size adjustment, color contrasting option, text to speech, and having an integrated screen reader in Hindi and English.

–  It is available in 10 regional languages, namely, Hindi, English, Marathi, Tamil, Odiya, Kannada, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi, and Malayalam.

– The App also has provision of easy photo uploads with geotagging option of the premise where accessibility intervention is required.

– The App has provision for providing notifications to the users at the time of registration, regular status updates as well as at the time of resolution and closure of the complaint.

– DEPwD has also prepared a handbook entitled “Access – The Photo Digest” with a collection of photographs from across different States and UTs.

– This Book is envisaged as a tool and guide to sensitise stakeholders about 10 basic features of accessibility and related good-bad practices in easy to understand pictorial form.

– The electronic version of this handbook will also be available on the App and the website of the Department.

  1. Policy of Neutrality

Why in news?

Recently, Switzerland’s Ambassador said that its traditional foreign Policy of Neutrality (Swiss Neutrality) has become attractive again because of the changing political reality in the world.

Key points are:

– It is a foreign policy position wherein a state intends to remain neutral in future wars. A sovereign state that reserves the right to become belligerent if attacked by a party to the war is in a condition of armed neutrality.

– A permanently neutral power is a sovereign state which is bound by international treaty, or by its own declaration, to be neutral towards the belligerents of all future wars. An example of a permanently neutral power is Switzerland. Other being Ireland, Austria, etc.

– The concept of neutrality in war is narrowly defined and puts specific constraints on the neutral party in return for the internationally recognized right to remain neutral.

– International Day of Neutrality is a United Nations recognized day held on 12th December each year to raise public awareness of the value of neutrality in international relations.

– National policies of neutrality are aimed at promoting the use of preventive diplomacy, which is a core function of the United Nations.

–  The term “Preventive diplomacy” refers to diplomatic action taken to prevent disputes from escalating into conflicts and to limit the spread of conflicts when they occur.

  1. First ‘India Toy Fair 2021’

Why in news?

India’s first Toy Fair will be held virtually from February 27 to March 2, 2021 and all children, parents, teachers and exhibitors willing to participate must register themselves on the India Toy Fair 2021 website launched by the government on February 11.

Key points are:

– t is the first ever digitally accessible exhibition and platform which will provide an opportunity to explore and buy a variety of toys from over 1,000 exhibitors across states and union territories, and participate in insightful webinars, panel discussions and activities, and network with various stakeholders from the toy industry.

– Hamleys, the oldest British multinational toy retailer, owned by Reliance Retail, is the tile sponsor of the event and will set up its virtual booth at the fair as well.

– he multinational retailer will also launch its toy circles in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad.

– A CSR activity from Hamleys will provide toy kits and play items for children of Aanganwadis workers. Wooden toys will also be procured for 743 aagnanwadis and distributed to these kids.

– The main attractions of the fair include a virtual exhibition with over 1,000 stalls, knowledge sessions with engaging panel discussions and webinars on diverse topics by experts on areas including toy-based learning, craft demonstrations, competitions, quizzes, virtual tours, product launches, etc.

– For education sector in particular, the knowledge sessions involving various experts will focus on areas emphasised in the NEP 2020 such as play-based and activity-based learning, indoor and outdoor play, use of puzzles and games to promote critical thinking and overall on how to make learning more engaging and enjoyable.

  1. “2003 Ceasefire agreement”

Why in news?

India and Pakistan have issued a joint statement to strictly observe the 2003 Ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC).

Key points are:

– The ceasefire agreement was reached in November 2003, four years after the Kargil War.

– On November 26, 2003 the ceasefire took effect along the entire stretch of the India-Pakistan frontier.

– It facilitated the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot routes, paving the way for bus and truck services linking the two Kashmirs for the first time in six decades and encouraging cross-LoC contacts, exchanges, travel, and trade.

– The ceasefire also enabled India to complete the construction of a fence near the LoC to prevent Pakistan’s infiltration of terrorists into Kashmir, a project that it had begun a couple of decades earlier but had to suspend due to Pakistan’s artillery fire.

– This is not the first time that India and Pakistan have agreed to give peace a chance on the LoC to make the lives of civilians living along the line easy.

– The 2003 ceasefire agreement remains a milestone as it brought peace along the LoC until 2006. Between 2003 and 2006, not a single bullet was fired by the jawans of India and Pakistan.

– But since 2006, ceasefire violations became the norm with increasing frequency. Recent years have seen an increasing number of ceasefire violations despite an agreement reached in 2018 to adhere to the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

  1. India Emerged Out of Technical Recession

Why in news?

The Indian economy has emerged out of technical recession as it grew at 0.4% in the third (October-December) quarter of 2020-21 with improvement in manufacturing, construction and agriculture.

Key points are:

– The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had contracted by 24.4% and 7.3% in the April-June and July-September quarters, respectively, marking a technical recession in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

– A technical recession is when a country faces a continuous decline for two consecutive quarters in the GDP.

– For the full fiscal year (2020-21), the National Statistical Office (NSO) has projected a contraction of 8%, higher than the forecasts of the Economic Survey (7.7%) and the Reserve Bank of India (7.5%).

– The real GDP growth estimate for the third quarter (2020-21) is at 0.4%. In the corresponding quarter last year, the economy had grown 3.3%.

– For the April-June quarter (Q1) and July-September (Q2), the contraction numbers were revised from 23.9% to 24.4% and 7.5% to 7.3%, respectively.

– With improved performance of manufacturing, electricity and construction, industry recorded a growth rate of 2.6% in the third quarter against the contraction in the first two.

– However, services, with the largest share in GDP at 57%, still remained in the contraction zone with a 0.9% fall year-on-year.

– Financial, real estate and professional services grew 6.6% as against 9.5% contraction in the previous quarter and 5.5% growth in the corresponding period last year.

– Mining, trade, hotels, transport, communication and broadcasting services and public administration services continued to stay in the negative territory in the third quarter registering a contraction of 5.9 %, 7.7%, and 1.5%, respectively.

– India’s eight core sectors recorded a meagre 0.1% rise in output in January 2021, propped up by a 5.1% rise in electricity, 2.7% growth in fertilizers and 2.6% growth in steel production, even as the other five sectors contracted.

– Coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, and cement recorded negative growth in January.

– The eight core industries constitute 40.27% of the Index of Industrial Production.

– Growth in agriculture jumped 3.9% in October-December compared with 3% growth in July-September and 3.4% growth during the corresponding quarter last year.

  1. Vivad Se Vishwas scheme

Why in news?

The Income Tax Department on Friday extended the deadline for filing declarations and making payment under the direct tax dispute resolution scheme ‘Vivad Se Vishwas’ (VsV) till March 31 and April 30.

Key points are:

– The Direct Tax ‘Vivad se Vishwas’ Act, 2020 was enacted on March 17, 2020, with the objective to reduce pending income tax litigation, generate timely revenue for the government and to benefit taxpayers.

– The scheme aims to end litigation and legacy disputes under the direct taxes category as ₹9.32 lakh crore worth of revenue is blocked in approximately 4.8 lakh appeals pending at various income tax appellate forums.

– The entities who opt for the scheme have to pay a requisite tax following which all litigation against them are closed by the tax department and penal proceedings dropped.

– It should be noted that the response to the scheme gains significance given earlier schemes like Kar Vivad Samadhan Scheme, 1998 (KVSS) and Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2016 (DTDRS) did not yield much results.

– The scheme has reportedly received an overwhelming response with a settlement amount of over Rs 97,000 crore as of February.

– So far, over 1,25,144 of the 5,10,491 long-pending cases have been settled under the scheme.

– These comprise 24.5 per cent of the total number of such cases which were pending before the scheme was introduced.

Sheetal Soni

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