Daily Current Affairs - 14-09-2021

India and Singapore have announced the linking of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and PayNow, in order to enable users to make instant, low-cost fund transfers.

Highlights

Significance of the linking

The linkage will be a significant milestone for the development of infrastructure for cross-border payments between both the countries. It will also align with the G20’s financial inclusion priorities to provide for faster, cheaper and more transparent cross-border payments.

About UPI

It is a mobile-based fast payment system, facilitating the customers to make round the clock payments instantly by using a Virtual Payment Address (VPA). VPA is created by the customer. This system eliminates the risk of sharing bank account details by remitter. This mechanism supports Person-to-Person (P2P) as well as Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payments and enables users to send or receive money.

About PayNow

It is the fast payment system of Singapore, enabling peer-to-peer funds transfer service. It is available for retail customers with the help of participating banks & Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NFIs) in Singapore. It provides the users to send and receive instant funds from one bank or e-wallet account to another by using their mobile number, Singapore NRIC/FIN, or VPA.

The wholesale price-based inflation (WPI) increased marginally to 11.39 per cent in August 2021 due to higher prices of manufactured goods, even though the prices of food articles softened.

Highlights

Why WPI increased in August?

High rate of inflation in August 2021 is basically due to increase in prices of non-food articles, crude petroleum & natural gas, mineral oils, manufactured products such as basic metals, textiles, food products, chemicals & chemical products etc as compared to corresponding month in 2020.

Food inflation

Inflation in food articles decreased for the fourth straight month. It was recorded as (-) 1.29 per cent in August 2021 as compared to zero per cent in July 2021. For instance, inflation in onions was high at 62.78 per cent whereas in pulses was 9.41 per cent. For vegetables it was recorded as (-) 13.30 per cent in August 2021. Inflation in crude petroleum and natural gas was at 40.03 per cent.

Retail inflation

The Reserve bank of India (RBI) mainly takes into account the retail inflation. In the monetary policy of August 2021, RBI has kept interest rates unchanged at record lows. RBI projected Consumer Price Index (CPI) or retail inflation at 5.7 per cent for the year 2021-22.

According to a report published in the Lancet, vaccine efficacy against severe Covid-19 is so high, that booster doses for the general population are “not appropriate” at this stage of the pandemic.

Highlights

Findings of the report

Is third dose essential?

CEO of AstraZeneca recently noted that, third dose of vaccines against Covid-19 will not be needed for everyone.

WHO’s take

WHO has called to extend the global moratorium on Covid-19 booster doses. with the aim of enabling every country to vaccinate at least 40 per cent the population.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notice to four states on September 14, 2021, over complaints by industrial units and transportation affected by farmers’ protect at Delhi border.

Highlights

Farmers’ protest

It is an ongoing protest by farmers against three farm acts that were passed by the Parliament of India in September 2020. Farmers, farmer unions and their representatives are demanding to repeal these laws. Supreme court also put stay on the implementation of farm laws in January 2021. Farmer leaders also rejected government proposal of suspending these laws for 18 months. Since the passing of these acts, eleven rounds of talks have taken place between central government and farm unions. However, all meetings were inconclusive as government only agreed to two demands by farmers related to stubble burning and an electricity ordinance.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

NHRC is a Statutory public body, established on October 12, 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of September 1993. It received a statutory status by Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. It is responsible for protection and promotion of human rights.

Central government has allowed 11 states to borrow an additional fund of Rs 15,721 crore from the market, because they achieved the capital expenditure target that finance ministry had set for June quarter the fiscal year 2021-22.

Highlights

Multiplier effect

Capital expenditure is having a high multiplier effect. It will enhance the future productive capacity of economy and also result in higher rate of economic growth.

Net borrowing ceiling

Out of total net borrowing ceiling of 4% of GSDP, about 0.50% of GSDP has been kept for incremental capital expenditure to be incurred by states during FY22.

Who fixes the target?

Target of incremental capital expenditure for each state in order to qualify for the additional borrowing is fixed by the Department of Expenditure.

What was the target?

To be eligible for additional borrowing, states were required to achieve around 15% of the target by June quarter, 45% by September quarter, 70% by December quarter and 100% by March quarter of FY22.

Why states require centre’s permission while borrowing?

Article 293(3) of the Constitution provides for states to require Centre’s permission in order to borrow additional funds. This permission is granted after fulfilling certain conditions provided by Article 293(4). Centre has been exercising this power as per recommendations of the Finance Commission.

According to union government, land records have been integrated with the e-portal of central government, by most states except three.

Highlights

Objective of the scheme

This mechanism was launched with the objective of finding how much crop has been cultivated in any particular area and how much the government procures from genuine farmers and not from traders.

Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP)

It is a Central Sector scheme which now stands extended up to 2020-21 with the total cost of Rs. 950 crores. Department of Land Resources also proposed an extension to 2023-24. This scheme attempts to build commonalities existing in the area of land records in several States to develop an appropriate Integrated Land Information Management System (ILIMS) in India.

Integrated Land Information Management System (ILIMS)

ILIMS comprises of information on parcel ownership, taxation, land use, location boundaries, encumbrances, land value etc.

Linking land record databases with banks

Next phase of the DILRMP include linkage of land record databases with banks. It will enhance the service deliveries and will also function as inputs to the schemes in sectors like Agriculture, Finance and Disaster Management.

Greater Noida Authority has planned to introduce innovative ways for door-to-door waste collection efficiently.

Key Points

How QR codes will work?

Every house will comprise of a QR code. Whenever the waste picker will pick up the garbage from particular house, he will scan the code through mobile scanner. As and when scan is done, its information will reach to the vendor. The vendor will compile the information and provide monthly information to the authority.

Role of GPS

Global Positioning System (GPS) will help in monitoring the vehicles engaged in garbage collection.

Purpose of the provisions

According to Greater Noida Authority, these provisions are being incorporated to ensure cleanliness in Greater Noida. The region generates about 200 tonnes of garbage per day. So, authority will hire a single agency for door-to-door collection of waste and its segregation.

Project tender

Authority has floated the tender for the project on a contract of ₹123.37 crore for a period of 10 years.

According to the chief of Indian Space Research Organisation, K Sivan, India will soon come out with a new foreign direct investment (FDI) policy for the space sector.

Key Points

While speaking at the International Space Conference organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the chief said, India’s space FDI policy is getting revised and it will open huge avenues of opportunities for foreign space companies to invest in Indian Space Sector.

MoU with SKyroot

Department of Space has signed a MoU with Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace Pvt Ltd. This MoU enables the startup to undertake several tests and access facilities across the ISRO centres. It will also enable the Skyroot to avail technical expertise of ISRO in order to test and qualify their space launch vehicle systems and subsystems.

Participation of private sector

Union government has approved the proposal of bringing reforms in space sector in October 2020 and allowed the participation of private players. With this approval, ISRO released a new draft Spacecom Policy 2020 in order to regulate the commercial use of satellites, ground stations for communication needs and orbital slots. This policy also enables private players to get authorisation of setting new communication satellites and ground stations.

About Skyroot

Skyroot is an Indian private aerospace manufacturer and commercial launch service provider.  It is located in Hyderabad, Telangana. It was founded by former engineers and scientists from ISRO. The company was established with the aim of developing and launching its own series of small lift launch vehicles especially for small satellite market.

According to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in Quad leaders’ summit in Washington on September 24.

Highlights

Agenda of the summit

Background

In March 2021 meeting of QUAD, they launched the QUAD Vaccine Initiative efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Quadrilateral Dialogue (QUAD)

QUAD was formed in 2007 including four countries- US, India, Japan and Australia. However, it did not take off initially because of several reasons. The grouping was revived in 2017 in the backdrop of growing convergence among countries, rising threat perceptions with respect to China and increasing significance of the Indo-Pacific region. QUAD countries regularly meet at the working- and ministerial levels and discuss mutual interests like ensuring free, open, & inclusive Indo-Pacific as well as rules-based international order.

According to the Union Tribal Affairs minister, Arjun Munda, Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana will be started in 36000 villages of India.

Key points

Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY)

PMAGY was launched with the aim of overall development of selected SC majority villages. The scheme seeks to provide the villages with all the necessary facilities in order to ensure that the disparity between SC and non-SC population is eliminated in terms of common socio-economic indicators.

How its performance is monitored?

Performance of the PMAGY is being monitored in terms of achievement of the targets that are listed in Village Development Plan (VDP) prepared for each village.

Who provides technical support?

Under this scheme, technical resource support is provided by the “National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR)” at the national level.

Criteria of being Adarsh Village

In order to be declared as Adarsh village, village should have achieved minimum of three targets below, within three years:

  1. Elimination of poverty and reduction in its incidence by 50% within three years.
  2. 100% enrolment and retention of children at elementary stage.
  3. Reduction of infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate.
  4. Villages should be 100 % open defecation free.
  5. Access to safe drinking water facility on sustainable basis.
  6. 100% institutional deliveries for pregnant women
  7. Full immunisation of children
  8. All-weather road connectivity to the village
  9. 100% registration of deaths and births
  10. No child marriages and child labour
  11. No public consumption of liquor & intoxicating substances
  12. 100% allotment of Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana houses.

On September 12, 2021, Iran agreed to allow nuclear surveillance by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Highlights

IAEA – Iran Deal over Nuclear Inspections

Iran and IAEA had agreed over temporary measures to offset decision of Iran to restrict access to inspectors. Iran’s Parliament passed a lew in 2020 and demanded the suspension of some inspections in case USA failed to lift sanctions. Under the deal, Iran will stop the implementation of voluntary measures in accordance with 2015 nuclear deal. However, it will continue to implement its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.

Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement

Under this agreement, IAEA has the right & obligation to ensure that safeguards are applied on all nuclear material in the territory or jurisdiction or control of the State. Under it, no access will be given to IAEA beyond safeguards of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran would also deny the IAEA real-time access to footage from surveillance cameras.

2015 Nuclear Deal

This deal was agreed between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers namely USA, UK, China, France, Russia, and Germany in 2015. It was named as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under this deal, Iran had agreed to curb its nuclear activity in return of lifting of sanctions and access to global trade.

The International Day for South-South Cooperation is observed on September 12, every year by the United Nations.

Key Facts

What is South-South Cooperation?

Significance of the day

According to United Nations, for South-South Cooperation, this initiative clearly shows the solidarity among peoples and countries of the South that contributes for well-being the wellbeing of the nation. It also shows the national & collective self-reliance of the people and attainment of internationally agreed development goals as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Buenos Aire Plan of Action (BAPA)

The day also commemorates the adoption of “Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA). BAPA was adopted in 1978 to promote and implement technical cooperation among developing countries by 138 member states.

Objectives of South-South Cooperation

South-South Cooperation was started with the objective of:

  1. Enhancing self-reliance among developing countries and finding out creative solutions for their development problems.
  2. Promoting self-reliance by exchanging experiences.
  3. Recognising and responding to the problems and requirements of the least developed countries in order to enable them to achieve a greater degree of participation in international economic activities.