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Sarat Chandra IAS Academy – UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 1st January 2022

CURRENT AFFAIRS 01-01-2022

Daily Current Affairs – Topics

     

  • Dairy Sector
  • Third Positive Indigenisation List
  • Genome sequencing
  • Tiangong Space Station
  • The Direct Selling Industry

 

 

1.Dairy Sector

#GS3-Animal-Rearing

Context

  • According to some commentators, India’s exit from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a big triumph for farmer’s organisations, labour unions, and small and medium industrial producer associations.
  • The Indian Dairy Sector, which opposes free trade in dairy goods, holds similar beliefs.
  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), signed by 15 countries, is one of the world’s largest trading blocs (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10-state ASEAN grouping). In 2020, India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations.

In depth information

India’s Dairy Industry Is Against the RCEP:

  • The RCEP pact includes some of the biggest players in the global milk trade, such as Australia and New Zealand.
  • Indian policy has actively supported the expansion of private milk companies over the last 25 years. These businesses are currently obligated to purchase milk from Indian farmers.
  • The reason for this is that India has a 35 percent levy on imported dairy products.
  • If India had signed the RCEP, the bound tariff would have been zero.
  • It would have been significantly more profitable for companies to import milk from New Zealand or Australia than to acquire it from Indian farmers at that time. As a result, India was opposed to the pact.
  • Furthermore, India will not be without milk in the foreseeable future. India is expected to be a milk surplus country by 2033, according to the NITI Aayog.

India’s Dairy Industry

  • The world’s largest dairy herd is in India, which has over 300 million bovines and produces over 187 million tonnes of milk.
  • Milk output in India has increased by 35.61 percent in the last six years, reaching 198.4 million tonnes in 2019-20.
  • The rural sector is anticipated to account for 57% of overall consumption.
  • India continues to be the world’s largest milk producer.
  • The leading milk-producing states remained Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Punjab.
  • Self-sufficient: India ranks #1 in both milk production and consumption among all countries. In terms of milk production, India is virtually self-sufficient.
  • Domestic consumption: The majority of the milk is consumed in the United States, however a small amount is exported.
  • Dairy production accounted for over 4.2 percent of India’s gross domestic product in 2020.
  • Indigenous cattle breeds: The population of indigenous cattle breeds has been continuously declining, while the population of more productive exotic and crossbred varieties has increased.
  • VergheseKurien’s contribution: Dr. VergheseKurien, dubbed the “Father of the White Revolution” in India, penned India’s success storey in milk production.

Related Concerns:

  • Invisible Labor:
  • To make a living, farmers raise two to five in-milk cows. Unpaid female family labour provides a significant portion of the labour required for milk production in this scenario.
  • When they run out of milk purchasers, the landless and marginal farmers among them have no other options for a living.
  • The Dairy Industry’s Informal Nature:
  • Cattle raisers, unlike sugarcane, wheat, and rice farmers, are unorganised and lack the political strength to lobby for their rights.
  • Despite the fact that the value of milk produced in India exceeds the combined value of wheat and rice output, there is no official and timely assessment of the cost of production and Minimum Support Price for milk.
  • Economies of scale have a negative impact:
  • Despite the fact that dairy cooperatives manage around 40% of the country’s total marketable excess of milk, they are not a preferred alternative for landless or small farmers.
  • This is due to the fact that more than 75% of the milk purchased by dairy cooperatives is in the lower price range.

Next Steps

  • Increasing Animal Productivity:
  • It is necessary to enhance animal productivity while also assuring better health care, breeding facilities, and dairy animal management. Milk production costs could be reduced as a result of this.
  • Also, assuring the availability of veterinary services, Artificial Insemination (AI), feed, and farmer education will help boost milk output and productivity.
  • The government and the dairy business can both help in this regard.
  • Infrastructure Improvements in Production, Processing, and Marketing: In order for India to become a dairy exporting country, it is critical that it create suitable production, processing, and marketing infrastructure that can match international quality standards.
  • In addition, there is a need to invest in solar-powered dairy processing plants to alleviate the infrastructural shortfall in rural areas as well as the electricity constraint.
  • In addition, dairy cooperatives must be strengthened. The government should support farmer producer organisations in this endeavour.

 

2.Third Positive Indigenisation List

#GS2-Internal Security

Context

  • The Ministry of Defence recently announced a positive indigenisation list of sub-systems/assemblies/subassemblies/components.

In depth information

  • Only after the dates specified in the list will the products be bought from Indian industry.
  • There are 2,500 imported articles on the list that have already been indigenised, as well as 351 foreign items that will be indigenised in the following three years.
  • The Srijan webpage has more information on these goods.
  • They would expand the number of items on the Positive list for indigenisation from 209 to over 1,000 in this decade.
  • To guarantee strict adherence to the set timescales, DPSUs will engage closely with the local industrial supply chain.
  • The Department of Military Affairs has already reported two positive indigenisation lists of weapons, platforms, systems, ammunition, and other items.
  • All necessary certifications/approvals for all items on the list will be issued first, based on stakeholder concerns.
  • The Indian defence and aerospace manufacturing market is currently valued at?85,000 crores, with the private sector contributing?18,000 crore.
  • The country’s defence and aerospace manufacturing sector is expected to grow to?1 lakh crore in 2022, and to?5 lakh crore by 2047.
  • The Ministry is also anticipated to unveil the final version of the ‘Defense Production and Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) 2020,’ which was previously released as a draught for public comment.

Other technological advancements

  • Separately, the Army has opened a quantum lab at the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE) in Mhow, MP.
  • With assistance from the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), it aspires to lead research and training in emerging technology sectors.
  • At the same facility, the Army has built an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Centre with over 140 deployments in forwarding areas and active assistance from industry and academics.
  • Cyberwarfare training is provided through a state-of-the-art cyber range and cyber security labs.
  • The Army’s participation in Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations was conceived at a conference on Electromagnetic Spectrum and National Security held last October.
  • Since then, the Army’s technical institutions have been encouraged to invest in AI, quantum computing, and cyber security.

List of Positive Indigenization

  • The positive indigenisation list effectively indicates that the Armed Forces—Army, Navy, and Air Force—will exclusively buy the commodities on the list from local suppliers. Private companies or Defense Public Sector Undertakings could be the manufacturers (DPSUs).

Significance

  • It will bolster attempts to attain defence manufacturing self-sufficiency.
  • It will assist Defence Public Sector Undertakings in reducing imports (DPSUs).
  • Every year, the AtmaNirbharprogramme will save around Rs. 3,000 crore in foreign exchange.
  • It will bolster national research and development by attracting additional investment.

Ahead of Schedule

  • If India is to fight and win future conflicts, it cannot rely on imports. As a result, indigenization is the way to go.
  • India’s desire to become a regional power can be realised through increasing domestic defence industry and reducing imports.

  

3.Genome sequencing

#GS3- Science & Technology

Context

  • One-third of samples tested positive for Omicron in Mumbai’s most recent genomic sequencing.

What Is Genome Sequencing and How Does It Work?

  • A genome is the entire collection of genetic instructions included in an organism’s DNA. The sequence of occurrences of the four nucleotide bases, adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T), is known as sequencing (T).
  • Over 3 billion of these genetic letters make up the human genome. Because current DNA sequencing methods can only handle short segments of DNA at a time, the entire genome cannot be sequenced at once.
  • Virus genomes can be made of either DNA or RNA, whereas human genomes are made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) (Ribonucleic acid). Coronavirus is an RNA-based virus. A genomic sequence is unique to each organism.
  • Genome sequencing is a method of extracting and interpreting genetic information from DNA or RNA.

Genome Sequencing Methodologies

  • The challenge of ripping up the genome and putting it back together again can be approached in two ways.
  • The “clone-by-clone” method begins by dividing the genome into relatively big sections, termed clones, that are around 150,000 base pairs (bp) long. Scientists utilise genome mapping tools to determine where each clone belongs in the genome.
  • They next cut each clone into smaller, overlapping portions of the appropriate size for sequencing—roughly 500 BP apiece. Finally, the parts are sequenced, and the overlaps are used to rebuild the clone’s sequence.
  • The “whole-genome shotgun” process entails slicing the genome into minute parts, sequencing them, and then reassembling them into the whole genome sequence.

Genome Sequencing’s Importance

  • Understands the Virus:
  • The goal of genome sequencing is to figure out how certain mutations affect the virus’s ability to infect. Immune escape or the virus’s ability to elude antibodies are explained by some mutations, which has implications for vaccinations.
  • It aids in determining if the vaccines created thus far are effective against such mutant strains of the virus, as well as whether they can prevent re­infection and transmission.
  • Tracing Mutations:
  • From a “know-thy-enemy” standpoint, sequencing the genomes of viral strains is significant since it makes it easier to track down mutations. Mutations may now be found much more simply and swiftly by scientists.
  • Vaccine Development:
  • Knowledge gained from critical research aids in the development of diagnostics, potential therapies, and vaccinations for current and future diseases.
  • Crucial Information:
  • Genome sequencing of persons who tested positive for COVID can provide important information and findings.

India’s Genome Sequencing Challenges

  • The goal was to sequence at least 5% of the samples, which is the minimum required to maintain track of virus variations. This has only been around 1% so far, owing to a lack of reagents and instruments necessary to scale up the process.
  • Low Capacity:
  • Together, the ten laboratories can sequence around 30,000 samples per month, or 1,000 per day, which is six times less than the aim.
  • Funding crunch:
  • Funding has been routinely delayed. INSACOG requested Rs 100 crore, but financing did not arrive until March, when it received Rs 70 crore.
  • Sample Collection:
  • The healthcare system is already overburdened, and this is yet another task for them to complete: sorting and packaging samples and RNA preparations on a regular basis for cold-chain shipping to sequencing centres, as well as recording extensive metadata to make sequence information useful.
  • Dependence on Imports:
  • The AtmaNirbhar plan, which barred imports of commodities worth less than Rs 200 crore in order to boost local procurement, hindered the process of genome sequencing. Even after the exemption, several particular polymers were still subject to the import ban, which hampered the procedure.
  • The slow pace of genome sequencing has a negative impact on India’s international reputation, as all countries are obligated to upload data to a single global repository known as the ‘Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data,’ or GISAID.

Next Steps

  • To get the research moving at the required speed, the number of laboratories should be raised. The Union Minister of Health has announced the opening of 17 more such laboratories.
  • The data gathered from the virus’s genome sequencing will be used to investigate links between variations and epidemiological waves (super-spreader events, outbreaks).

 

4. Tiangong Space Station

#GS3-Space.

Context

  • China, which is expanding its space footprint, has filed a complaint with the United Nations detailing two alleged space accidents involving its Tiangong Space Station and two Starlink satellites from SpaceX, created by Elon Musk.

In depth information

Why did China go to the United Nations?

  • The Outer Space Treaty, also known as the ‘Treaty on Principles Governing States’ Activities in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies,’ is signed by both the United States and China.
  • The UN General Assembly enacted a multilateral convention that establishes the basic basis for international space law.

Important provisions and their application in this case:

  • Nations will be accountable for national space operations, whether they are carried out by governmental or non-governmental groups, according to article VI of the treaty. That means the United States might be held liable for the conduct of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a California-based aerospace company.
  • Nations will be held accountable for damage caused by their space objects, such as satellites, according to Article VII.
  • Article V of the treaty mandates that parties promptly notify other parties or the UN Secretary-General of any occurrence discovered in outer space that “may pose a hazard to astronauts’ lives or health.”

What role does the United Nations play in space issues?

  • The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs was established to provide support to the ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
  • The committee was formed in 1958, shortly after the first artificial satellite, Sputnik-1, was launched.
  • It has served as a focal point for worldwide cooperation in the exploration and utilisation of space for peaceful purposes.

The Treaty on Outer Space:

  • It took effect on October 10, 1967.
  • The treaty’s principles have made it easier to undertake activities in space in a safe and orderly manner.

So, what’s the big deal now?

  • Space-related conflicts have occurred in the past and will very certainly continue to do so in the future, given the increasing number of activities in space involving various parties.
  • The International Space Station and China’s Tiangong space station, which is now under construction, both operate in low Earth orbit, which is where majority of the space junk is found.
  • Furthermore, there are approximately 30,000 satellites and other bits of junk in Earth’s orbit that can reach speeds of nearly 29,000 kilometres per hour, enhancing the risk of international accidents in space.”

The internet satellite network of SpaceX:

  • It works in LEO, which is becoming increasingly busy, at a height of 550 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. About 1,900 Starlink satellites have been deployed by the company.
  • Concerning China’s Space Station:
  • The new Tiangong multi-module station will be active for at least ten years.
  • The space station will be located in low-Earth orbit, between 340 to 450 kilometres above the Earth’s surface.

The importance of the space station is as follows:

  • The low-earth orbit space station would serve as the country’s eye in the sky, providing astronauts with a round-the-clock bird’s-eye perspective of the rest of the world.
  • It will help China achieve its goal of becoming a significant space power by 2030.

Concerns:

  • China’s space station will have a robotic arm, which the US has expressed alarm over because of its potential military implications.
  • This technology “may be utilised in a future system for grabbing other satellites,” according to the concern.

Additional space stations include:

  • The International Space Station is the only space station currently in orbit (ISS). The United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada all support the ISS.
  • China has already launched two space stations into orbit, the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 test stations.
  • By 2030, India intends to launch its own space station.

 

5. The Direct Selling Industry

#GS3:-Industrial Policy

Context

  • The Consumer Protection (Direct Selling) Rules, 2021, have been published by the government, and they restrict all direct selling businesses from promoting pyramid schemes or money circulation schemes, as well as giving a method for consumer complaints to be resolved.

What is the definition of direct selling?

  • Instead of using a retail location, goods or services are sold directly to consumers by sellers who function as individual representatives of direct selling entities.
  • Brands like Amway, Herbalife, Oriflame, and Modicare, for example, sell their products directly through shops. They are usually quite costly.

What exactly are the new guidelines?

  • The new rules were put in place primarily to prevent the direct selling business from promoting pyramid and money circulation schemes.
  • Aside from that, all entities must now be registered in the country.
  • The Rules also require direct selling businesses to establish grievance redressal officers who will post their contact information on the website to provide a redressal process for consumers.
  • The newly issued rules will also apply to direct selling firms that are not based in India yet sell goods or services to Indian consumers.

How big is the direct selling industry in India?

  • According to a report, the number of active direct sellers in the country in 2019-20 was over 7.4 million.
  • The top two categories were ‘wellness and nutraceuticals,’ which accounted for 57% of sales, and cosmetics and personal care, which accounted for 22% of sales.

To whom are these Rules applicable?

  • These rules apply to all direct selling models as well as all goods and services purchased or sold via direct selling.
  • The newly issued Rules will also apply to direct selling firms that are not based in India but sell goods or services to Indian consumers.

Why have they only now been notified?

  • Fraud prevention:
  • The rules are aimed at preventing fraud and safeguarding the interests of consumers. Previously, there was no legal framework in place to regulate these.
  • Consumers cannot be charged an entry fee or a subscription fee if a direct selling company or a direct seller refuses to accept “spurious goods or defective services” and issue a refund.
  • They frequently use coercive persuasion to persuade consumers to make a purchase based on the promise of being able to reduce or refund the price by introducing potential clients.
  • Providing DS with legitimacy:
  • The Rules help to legitimise the industry and attract greater foreign direct investment (FDI).

What are the rules?

  • Registration:
  • Every direct selling company operating in India must be registered in the country and have at least one physical location in the country as its registered office.
  • Self-declaration:
  • Entities must make a self-declaration that they are following the Rules and are not involved in any pyramid or money circulation schemes.
  • Data storage in India:
  • Such businesses are also required to store sensitive personal data in India and to take efforts to guarantee that such data is protected.
  • Grievance remedy:
  • The Rules require direct selling organisations to select one or more grievance resolution officers and post their information on their website, including their name, phone number, and email address.
  • Every direct selling business will be required to select a nodal person who will be responsible for ensuring that the Act’s terms are followed.
  • Restricted visits:
  • A direct seller will not visit a consumer’s home or offer any literature to a prospect that has not been permitted by the direct selling business without an identity card and a prior appointment or approval.

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