Daily Current Affairs - 25-021

The Prime Minister of Nepal, KP Sharma Oli, has been expelled from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). He was expelled from the party following his decision to dissolve the Parliament. He was expelled from his party by a Central Committee at a meeting of the party’s splinter group.

Highlights

Background

Nepal Communist Party

It is the ruling political party in Nepal. The party is considered as the largest communist party in South Asia while the third largest in Asia. The party was founded on May 17, 2018. It was formed after the unification of two leftist parties namely the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre). This party is the largest political party in House of Representatives and National Assembly. It is also the largest among all provincial assemblies except No. 2. Former Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal is currently serving as the chairmen of the party alone after PM Oli has been expelled. Following the removal of PM Oli, the NCP has split into two divisions.

The Oxfam has recently published its report titled “The Inequality Virus”. In its report, the Oxfam finds that the COVID-19 pandemic has deepen the existing inequalities in India and across the world.

Key Findings of the report

Impact on Education

As education made a shift to online platforms, India witnessed the digital divide that worsened the inequalities. As per the report, 3 per cent of the poorest 20 per cent of Indian households had access to a computer while 9 per cent had access to the internet.

Impact on Education

The report finds that, India does not report case data desegregated by socio-economic or social categories. Thus, distribution of disease among the communities is difficult to find. But India has become the world’s second-largest country with respect to the number of COVID-19 positive cases.

Impact on Poor communities

Covid-19 disease also impacted the poor communities who were living in crammed areas. This is because of poor sanitation. As per the report, only 6 per cent of the poorest 20 per cent households had access to non-shared sources of improved sanitation as opposed to 93 per cent of the top 20 per cent households in India.

Impact on gender disparity

As per the report, unemployment rate among women have risen to 18 percent from 15 per cent before COVID-19. This could result in a loss to India’s GDP by 8 per cent or $218 billion.

Recent figures by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development highlights that, China has surpassed the United States as the world’s top destination for the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the year 2020.

Highlights

FDI scenario in US

The Foreign investment in the U.S. started picking up in the year 2016. Till 2016, the investments stood at $472 billion in contrast to total foreign investment of $134 billion in China. However, since 2017 the investments in China continued to rise while in U.S. continued to fall.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

The investment in the form of controlling ownership of a business in one country by an entity which is based in another country is called as the foreign direct investment. Thus, it is distinguished from a foreign portfolio investment with respect to the direct control. The origin of the investment does not impact the definition of the FDI.

Foreign portfolio investment

It is a grouping of assets like stocks, bonds and cash equivalents. Such investments are held directly by an investor or it is managed by the financial professionals. In the economics, such investments mean entry of funds into a country where foreigners deposit their money in a country’s bank or when they make purchases in the country’s stock and bond markets.

Thirty-two children have been awarded with the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar in the year 2021. The award has been given to these children for their tremendous and outstanding accomplishments and exceptional abilities in fields including the innovation, scholastics, sports, social service, arts, culture and bravery.

Highlights

Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar

Who finalize the names of awardees?

The names of the awardees for the award is finalized by a National Selection Committee which is headed by the Minister of Ministry of Women and Child Development.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently proposed for a four-tier structure for tighter regulatory framework of the Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).

About Regulatory and Supervisory Framework

About 4-Tier Structure

The proposed 4-tier are understated:

  1. NBFC-Base Layer– under this layer, least regulatory intervention is warranted for the NBFCs. RBI has proposed the classification of Non-Performing assets (NPAs) of this layer NBFCs from 180 days to 90 days.
  2. NBFC-Middle Layer– this layer has a stricter regulation as compared to the base layer. Under it, the banks can be addressed for NBFCs falling so as to reduce the systemic risk spill-overs.
  3. NBFC Upper Layer– It comprises of the NBFCs which have large potential of systemic risks and those impacting the financial stability. The regulatory framework under this layer will be bank-like.
  4. NBFC Top LayerThis layer is supposed to be empty unless supervisors take a view on specific NBFCs.

Aim of the proposed framework

The RBI has proposed the new framework with the aim of protecting the financial stability. It will further ensure that smaller NBFCs continue to enjoy light regulations.

Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC)

It is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956. It is engaged in the business of loans and advances. NBFC cannot accept the demand deposits. They are not the part of the payment and settlement system. Further, they cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.  The depositors of the NBFCs are not provided with the deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Azim Premji University have put forward the Udyog Sahayak Enterprises Network (USENET) framework draft policy.

USENET Framework draft policy

Purpose of the framework

The framework has been prepared with the purpose of providing information on policies, government schemes, credit options and visibility to lenders and customers to the nano and micro-enterprises who are facing growth challenges. It will also create a support system that will help the enterprises to adopt new technologies and increase the productivity.

Significance of the framework

The draft policy will provide a major stimulus to the nano and micro-enterprises that are facing the challenge of growth in informal sector of the economy. The framework could help in creating an additional 10.3 million jobs in the five years by enabling the scale-up of nano and micro enterprises. Thus, the framework has the potential to grow and create a large number of jobs. Further, it could boost the value-added per worker potential. This in turn could bring in a 12% nominal growth in gross asset value (GVA).

Gross Asset Value (GAV)

It is the sum of value of property that a company owns. It is a common key performance indicator for property funds that measures the success of the fund manager.

India recently made an announcement that it does not support the “Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” and it is not bound by any of the obligations of the treaty.

Highlights

India’s stand

Why India does not support the treaty?

India does not support the treaty because, India believes, the treaty does not constitute or contribute to the development of customary international law. Further, the treaty does not provide for any new standards or norms.

Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The treaty is also called as the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty. It is the first legally binding international agreement. It prohibits the nuclear weapons and aims for the total elimination of such weapons. The treaty was adopted on July 7, 2017.  For the member nations, the treaty prohibits development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of nuclear weapons. The recognized “Nuclear weapon States” are United States, Russia, United Kingdom, China and France. The states that have declared possessing the nuclear weapons include India, Pakistan and North Korea while, Israel is the state that indicated for possessing the nuclear weapons.

The Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has launched the “Union Budget Mobile App” ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget on February 1, 2021. The mobile app was launched for hassle-free access of Budget-related documents by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the public. The budget will completely be paperless for the first time after. This decision was taken in the light of ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

About Union Budget Mobile App

Key Facts about Union Budget

National Informatics Centre (NIC)

NIC works under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). It provides infrastructure that support the delivery of IT services by the government and the delivery of initiatives under the Digital India Mission.

The government of Maharashtra has decided to start a ‘jail tourism’ from the Yerawada prison of Pune. It will start on January 26, 2021. This initiative is being launched in the state with the aim of facilitating the people to visit and see the historical prisons in the state. This is being done as memories of many freedom fighters who were once imprisoned in the jail have been preserved. Some of the freedom fighter who were imprisoned in Yerawada jail under the British rule include Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Lokmanya Tilak, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose.

Yerwada Central Jail

It is a noted high-security jail in Yerwada, Pune. It is the largest jail in the state of Maharashtra. The jail is also the largest prisons in South Asia. It can house 5,000 prisoners. The jail was built in the year 1871 by the British. It is protected by protected by four high walls and has been divided into various security zones and barracks. It also comprises of egg-shaped cells for high-security prisoners. However, the jail is highly criticized for its overcrowding and poor living conditions.

Mahatama Gandhi In Yerwada Jail

Mahatma Gandhi had spent several years in Yerwada Jail during India’s freedom struggle in 1932. When he was imprisoned in the year 1932, he sat on an indefinite fast to protest against the Communal Award for depressed classes. He opened his fast after signing an agreement called the Poona Pact. Gandhi was released in May 1933. He was again imprisoned in the year 1942 during the Quit India movement.

Quit India Movement

The Quit India movement is also known as the August Movement or the Leave India movement. The movement was launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee in 1942 by Mahatma Gandhi. It was launched during World War II with the aim of ending the British rule in India.

Recently, the researchers from the University of Oxford Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and Machine Learning Research Group have detected the elephants in South Africa using the Artificial Intelligence from space. This survey is being claimed as more accurate as compared to the detection by Human. For the purpose of survey, researchers used the highest resolution satellite imagery called Worldview3.

Background

Earlier, the elephants were traced by manned aircrafts methodology.  It was the most common method of survey to keep eyes on elephant populations in savannah environments. Under it, aerial counts were undertaken from manned aircraft.

What was the need for new methodology?

The manned aircrafts methodology was not delivering the accurate results. This is because, under the methodology, observers on aircraft are prone to get exhausted. Because of this, the survey was getting delayed and sometimes getting hindered by poor visibility.  Inaccurate survey was also leading to the misallocation of resources and misunderstanding of the population trend. Further, the aerial surveys are costly and logistically challenging.

About the new methodology

Under the new methodology, the satellite images are appeared as grey blobs depicting as elephants wandering through the trees. These elephant counting is done through machine learning which is a computer algorithm that has been trained to identify elephants.

Significance of AI based methodology

The new methodology us accurate. Thus, it will help in and improve the Conservation of the elephant. It will also help in counting and monitoring the movement of the elephants which in turn would help in anti-poaching work.

Elephant count in South Africa

There are some 24,000 elephants in South Africa. The population of elephant has risen from the 1920s. In 1920s there were less than 150 elephants there. In one of the famous parks of South Africa, Kruger Park, there are about 17,000 elephants against its planned limit of about 7,500.

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) recently published the “Birds of the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve” in which ZSI highlighted that the Indian Sunderbans is home to 428 species of birds.

About Indian Sunderbans

Protected Areas in Sundarbans

The Four protected areas in the Sundarbans have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are Sundarbans National Park, Sundarbans South Sundarbans West and Sundarbans East Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Threat

Indian Sundarbans were tagged as endangered under the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems framework in 2020.

Flora and Fauna

The Sundri Tree and gewa tree are the most abundant tree species. The mangroves forests provide habitat to several faunal wildlife. It includes 428 species of birds, 120 fish, 42 mammal, 35 reptile and 8 amphibian species.

The Sundarbans National Park

It is a national park, tiger reserve, and biosphere reserve situated in the state of West Bengal. It is part of the Sundarbans on the Ganges Delta.  It is situated adjacent to the Sundarban Reserve Forest in Bangladesh. It is covered by mangrove forests. It is considered as one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. The national park was declared as the core area of Sundarban Tiger Reserve in the 1973. It was also declared as a wildlife sanctuary in the year 1977. While in the year 1984, it was declared a national park. The park is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar site since 2019.

The Scientists from the International Space Station (ISS) have observed a bright-blue lightning bolt that is shooting upward from the thunderclouds. Such blue jets are hard to observe from the ground because the electrical discharges emerge from the tops of thunderclouds. But from space, one can easily observe the phenomenon.

Highlights

What are blue jets?

Thunderstorm

It is also known as an electrical storm or a lightning storm. It is characterized by the presence of lightning and the acoustic effect on the Earth’s atmosphere that is thunder. This phenomenon is usually taking place in the cumulonimbus cloud, the thunderstorm is also accompanied by strong winds and heavy rain. It could also lead to snow, sleet, or hail.

Cumulonimbus Cloud

It is a dense and towering vertical cloud. This cloud is formed by the water vapor which is carried by the powerful upward air currents.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is all set to launch the Electronic Electoral Photo Identity Card (e-EPIC) programme on the occasion of National Voter’s Day. The new digital card is being launched by keeping in view the upcoming polls in five states namely, Kerala, Puducherry, Assam, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

What is e-EPIC?

How this initiative will be rolled out?

Significance of the digitalisation of Voter-ID

Election Commission of India (ECI)

National Voters’ Day

The national voter’s day is observed on January 25 to mark the foundation day of Election commission of India. The day is being observed since 2011. This year, the election commission will observe the 11th voter’s day. Theme of the day for the year 2021 is “Making Our Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed”. The day is observed to encourage, facilitate and maximize the enrolment of the new voters.