Daily Prelims Notes 20 July 2021
- July 20, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
20 July 2021
Table Of Contents
- Climate change has added over 1000 lakes in Swiss Alps: study
- SC reserves order on telcos’ pleas in AGR case
- Startup India Showcase Platform
- Convene Indian Labour Conference
- Oxfam report highlights sharp inequalities in health indicators
- Monetary Transmission
- Petrol price and inflation
- OPEC+ agreement
- Monkey B virus
- NEA Scout
Context: According to a study published by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), climate change has dramatically altered the Swiss Alp landscape.
- Almost 1,200 new lakes have formed in formerly glaciated regions of the Swiss Alps since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850.
- About 180 have been added in the last decade alone.
- Glaciers in the Swiss Alps are in steady decline, losing a full 2% of their volume in 2020 alone.
- According to a 2019 study, even if the world were to fully implement the 2015 Paris Agreement two-thirds of the Alpine glaciers will likely be lost.
- The Alps are the highest and extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe.
- It stretches across eight Alpine countries (from west to east): France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia.
- The mountains were formed as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided.
- The Alpine region of Switzerland is conventionally referred to as the Swiss Alps.
- The Alps cover 60% of Switzerland’s total surface area, making it one of the most alpine countries.
Context: The Supreme Court has reserved orders on pleas made by telecom majors for a chance to place their grievances about arithmetical errors in the calculation of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues before the Department of Telecom (DoT).
- The Supreme Court in September 2020 had granted 10 years to telecom firms for paying the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR)-related dues to the DoT with certain conditions.
- The SC asked telcos to pay 10 per cent of the AGR-related dues by March 31, 2021.
What is Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR)?
- Telecom operators are required to pay licence fees and spectrum charges in the form of ‘revenue share’ to the Centre.
- The revenue amount used to calculate this revenue share is termed the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR).
- According to the DoT, the calculations should incorporate all revenues earned by a telecom company – including from non-telecom sources such as deposit interests and sale of assets.
- The companies, however, have been of the view that AGR should comprise the revenues generated from telecom services only and non-telecom revenues should be kept out of it. They had argued that AGR must only include license and spectrum fees.
Context: 104 startups from different sectors have currently on boarded on the Startup India Showcase Platform.
- Startup India Showcase is an online discovery platform for the most promising startups of the country.
- These innovations span across various cutting-edge sectors such as Fintech, Entreprise Tech, Social Impact, Health Tech, EdTech, among others.
- Ecosystem stakeholders have evaluated, nurtured, and supported these startups.
- These startups are solving critical problems and have shown exceptional innovation in their respective sectors.
Subject: National Organisations
Context : The BharatiyaMazdoorSangh on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to convene the Indian Labour Conference (ILC), the most recent session of which was held in 2015, at the earliest.
- The Indian Labour Conference (ILC) is the apex level tripartite consultative committee in the Ministry of Labour & Employment to advise the Government on the issues concerning working class of the country.
- All the 12 Central Trade Union Organisations, Central Organisations of employers, all State Governments and Union Territories and Central Ministries/Departments concerned with the agenda items, are the members of the ILC.
- The first meeting of the Indian Labour Conference (then called Tripartite National Labour Conference) was held in 1942 and so far a total of 46 Sessions have been held.
- The 46th Session of Indian Labour Conference was held on 20–21 July, 2013 at VigyanBhavan, New Delhi .
- The agenda of the ILC is finalised by the Standing Labour Committee which is again a tripartite body after detailed discussions.
Subject: National Reports
Context: India Inequality Report 2021: India’s Unequal Healthcare Story has been published by Oxfam India
- India’s low spending on public healthcare systems and focus on supporting private healthcare has led to serious inequalities in access to healthcare, especially during the Covid 19 pandemic.
- The average medical expenditure per hospitalisation case has tripled between 2004 and 2017, making it difficult for poorer and rural households.
- Rural India houses 70 percent of the population, while it has 40 percent of hospital beds.
- Sharp inequalities exist across different caste, religious, class and gender categories on various health indicators.
- The General category is better off than SCs and STs, Hindus are better off than Muslims, the rich are better off than the poor, men are better off than women, and the urban population is better off than the rural population” on most health determinants, interventions and indicators including access to improved, non-shared sanitation facilities.
- Vaccination drive against Covid-19 ignores the country’s digital divide.
- Despite improvement in child immunisation, the rate of immunisation of girls continues to be below that of the male child; immunisation of children in urban areas is more than those in rural areas; and immunization of SCs and STs is behind that of other caste groups.
- While women’s literacy has improved across social groups over the years, SC and ST women lag behind the general category by 18.6% and 27.9% respectively.
- There exists a gap of 55.1% between the top and bottom 20% of the population in 2015-16.
- The Oxfam report has marked the state of Kerala as a success story in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Oxfam is a confederation of independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty.
- It was founded in 1942 and is led by Oxfam International.
Context: Data collected from banks by the RBI suggests the share of outstanding loans linked to external benchmarks — mostly the repo rate which is at 4 per cent — increased from as low as 2.4 per cent during September 2019 to 28.5 per cent during March 2021
- The Marginal Cost of Fund based Lending Rate refers to the minimum interest rate a bank must charge for lending. The bank cannot grant any loan below that rate, except in certain cases permitted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- The MCLR is determined by the current cost of funds, in contrast to the base rate, which is governed by the average cost of funds. The MCLR was introduced by the RBI because rates based on this system are more receptive to the changes in the policy rates. This also ensures that the country’s monetary policy is implemented effectively across all spheres.
- As a result, the MCLR ensures that the lending rates of banks reflect the policy rates. Moreover, it also provides transparency in the procedure followed by banks to arrive at interest rates on advances. Every month, banks may publish the internal benchmark (MCLR) for overnight, one-month, three-month, and six-month and one year maturities.
- The MCLR method considered is a non-transparent which was introduced in the Indian financial system by the RBI in 2016, replaced the base rate system that was introduced in 2010.
Factors that Determine the MCLR
- Marginal Cost of Funds
- Operating Costs.
- Cost of Carry in the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR
- Tenor Premium.
Repo rate: It is the rate at which the central bank of a country (Reserve Bank of India in case of India) lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Repo rate is used by monetary authorities to control inflation.
Reverse repo rate: It is the rate at which the central bank of a country (Reserve Bank of India in case of India) borrows money from commercial banks within the country. It is a monetary policy instrument which can be used to control the money supply in the country
Transmission of lending rate (internal vs external)
- The external benchmark system has incentivised banks to adjust their term as well as saving deposit rates as lending rates undergo frequent adjustments in line with the benchmark rates, to protect their net interest margins thus broadening the scope of transmission across sectors that are not even linked to external benchmark.
- The share of outstanding loans linked to external benchmarks like the Repo rate introduced by the Reserve Bank of India rose significantly in the last two years, but opaque MCLR loans (or marginal cost of funds-based lending rate) continues to be the dominant rate structure for the banking industry, still hindering rate transmission.
- The opacity in interest rate setting processes under internal benchmark regime hinders transmission to lending rates
- Most banks 38 of the 58 banks which introduced external benchmark linked loans have adopted the Reserve Bank’s policy repo rate as the external benchmark for floating rate loans to the retail and MSME.
- The RBI had made it mandatory for banks to link all new floating rate personal or retail loans and floating rate loans to MSMEs to an external benchmark like the Repo rate effective
Context: The government’s revenue collections from excise duty on petroleum products jumped over 74 per cent year-on-year to Rs 3.45 lakh crore in 2020-21, according to government data.
Government revenue and petrol prices
- The country has seen a 21.7 per cent increase in the price of petrol and diesel since the beginning of the year.
- The excise duty collected from petroleum products formed 32.07 per cent of the total indirect tax revenue in 2020-21, up from a 20.7 per cent share in 2019-20. The rising fuel prices have been feeding into inflation at both wholesale and retail level.
- The government’s revenue collections from excise duty on petroleum products surged 74.3 per cent to Rs 3.45 lakh crore in 2020-21.
- The rising fuel prices have been impacting inflation at both wholesale and retail levels. Inflation rates for items such as minerals, edible oils, oilseeds, dairy and poultry items have gained momentum over the last one year, with the cascading impact of elevated fuel prices clearly visible in segments such as manufactured products such as rubber, plastic products, furniture and transport and communication.
- The looming concern is that the sharp rise in producers’ prices will progressively feed into the final consumer goods basket, translating into consumer price inflation with some lag.
- High state and Central taxes on fuel along with high crude oil prices have translated into the wholesale inflation for ‘crude, petroleum and natural gas’ spiking to 55.5 per
- On the retail inflation front, the trend has been mirrored with the inflation rate for the ‘transport and communication’ segment
Subject: International Relations
Context: OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and its allies led by Russia have agreed to gradually withdraw Covid-related production cuts by September 2022, leading to crude oil prices falling to about $72 per barrel on Monday.
- The OPEC+ group of countries had in April 2020, entered into a two-year agreement which entailed steep cuts in crude oil production to deal with a sharp fall in the price of crude oil as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Crude oil prices have, recovered to well above the pre-Covid-19 levels leading to India and other developing countries calling for a withdrawal of production cuts.
Standoff between UAE and other OPEC+ countries
- The initial proposal by OPEC+ countries had tied the gradual increase in production to a six-month extension of the production agreement which was set to expire in April 2022.
- The UAE did not agree to the proposal stating that the reference production levels used to calculate supply quotas for OPEC+ countries did not represent the actual supply capacity of the UAE and that an increase in supply should not be tied to the proposed extension without a revision in reference production levels.
- The final decision by OPEC+ on withdrawal of production cuts does include an extension of the production agreement to September 2022 but also provides for increases in reference production levels for Saudi Arabia, Russia, UAE, Kuwait and Iraq.
- OPEC+ is the alliance of crude producers undertaking corrections in supply in the oil markets since 2017.
- OPEC plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan. (OPEC, As of 2020, OPEC has a total of 13 Member Countries viz. Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Angola and Venezuela are members of OPEC.)
Subject: Science and Technology
Context: China has reported the first human infection case with Monkey B virus (BV) after a Beijing-based veterinarian was confirmed with the same a month after he dissected two dead monkeys in early March, according to China CDC Weekly.
The virus, initially isolated in 1932, is an alphaherpes virus enzootic in macaques of the genus Macaca. B virus is the only identified old-world-monkey herpesvirus that displays severe pathogenicity in humans.
- The infection can be transmitted via direct contact and exchange of bodily secretions of monkeys and has a fatality rate of 70 per cent to 80 per cent.
- The virus may also be found in cells coming from an infected monkey in a lab. B virus can survive for hours on surfaces, particularly when moist.
- Humans can get infected if they are bitten or scratched by an infected monkey; get an infected monkey’s tissue or fluid on broken skin or in eyes, nose, or mouth; scratch or cut oneself on a contaminated cage or other sharp-edged surface or get exposed to the brain spinal cord, or skull of an infected monkey.
- Symptoms typically start within one month of being exposed to B virus, but could appear in as little as three to seven days,.
- The first indications of B virus infection are typically flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, muscle ache, fatigue and headache, following which an infection person may develop small blisters in the wound or area on the body that came in contact with the monkey.
- Shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and hiccups.
- The virus spreads to and causes inflammation (swelling) of the brain and spinal cord, leading to neurologic and inflammatory symptoms such as pain, numbness, itching near the wound site; issues with muscle coordination; brain damage and severe damage to the nervous system and in extreme cases, death.
- There are no vaccines that can protect against B virus infection.
- The virus might pose a potential threat to laboratory workers, veterinarians, and others who may be exposed to monkeys or their specimens.
- One case has been documented of an infected person spreading B virus to another person.
Context: Sea6 Energy, a seaweed farming and processing firm with operations in Tuticorin and Bali, has raised $9 million (approx ₹67 crore) from, a Netherlands-based investment fund on sustainable agriculture.
Seaweed” is the common name for countless species of marine plants and algae that grow in the ocean as well as in rivers, lakes, and other water bodies.
- Seaweed, any of the red, green, or brown marine algae that grow along seashores.
- Seaweeds are generally anchored to the sea bottom or other solid structures by rootlike “holdfasts,” which perform the sole function of attachment and do not extract nutrients as do the roots of higher plants.
- A number of seaweed species are edible, and many are also of commercial importance to humans. Some are used as fertilizers or as sources of polysaccharides.
- Microscopic, such as the phytoplankton that live suspended in the water column and provide the base for most marine food chains.,
- macroscopic like the giant kelp that grow in abundant “forests”
- The fresh tropical seaweeds has applications in novel eco-friendly products for segments such as agriculture, animal health, food ingredients, bio-plastics and renewable chemicals
- seaweed based bio-stimulants for agriculture
- Animal health products for shrimps and poultry segment
- Seaweed is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and can be tasty
- Many seaweeds contain anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agents. Their known medicinal effects have been legion for thousands of years
- The ancient Romans used them to treat wounds, burns, and rashes. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the ancient Egyptians may have used them as a treatment for breast cancer.
- Certain seaweeds possess powerful cancer-fighting agents that researchers hope will eventually prove effective in the treatment of malignant tumors and leukemia in people.
- They are effective binding agents (emulsifiers) in such commercial goods as toothpaste and fruit jelly, and popular softeners (emollients) in organic cosmetics and skin-care products.
- A fully mechanised cultivation system that can simultaneously harvest and replant seaweed in deep ocean waters, enabling cost competitive production at scale.
- The sea combine has been deployed in Indonesia, where the tropical seaweeds are widely grown.
- Their Sea Combine makes sustainably farming the ocean a possibility, while capturing CO2 and transforming it into valuable products.
Subject: Science and Technology
Context: NASA announced that its new spacecraft, named NEA Scout, has completed all required tests and has been safely tucked inside the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. NEA Scout is one of several payloads that will hitch a ride on Artemis I, which is expected to be launched in November.
Artemis I will be an unscrewed test flight of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket. Under the Artemis programme, NASA has aimed to land the first woman on the Moon in 2024 and also establish sustainable lunar exploration programs by 2030.
- Near-Earth Asteroid Scout( or NEA Scout) is a small spacecraft, about the size of a big shoebox. Its main mission is to fly by and collect data from a near-Earth asteroid. It will also be America’s first interplanetary mission using a special solar sail propulsion.
- NEA Scout will use stainless steel alloy booms and deploy an aluminium-coated sail measuring 925 square feet.
- The spacecraft will take about two years to cruise to the asteroid and will be about 93 million miles away from Earth during the asteroid encounter.
- NEA Scout is equipped with special cameras and can take pictures ranging from 50 cm/pixels to 10 cm/pixels
- The images gathered by NEA Scout will provide critical information on the asteroid’s physical properties such as orbit, shape, volume, rotation, the dust and debris field surrounding it, plus its surface properties
Need to study the asteroid
- Understanding their properties could help us develop strategies for reducing the potential damage caused in the event of an impact
- data to determine what is required to reduce risk, increase effectiveness, and improve the design and operations of robotic and human space exploration,