Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 25th August

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 25th August-2021

Daily Current Affairs 25th August – Topics

  • New structure for Urban cooperative banks
  • New Clause in Adoption regulations
  • India’s First Smog Tower
  • Human trails for new HIV Vaccine
  • Sri Narayana Jayanti
  • ‘YUKTDHARA’ – New Geospatial Planning Portal

 

  1. New structure for Urban cooperative banks

#GS3 #Banking sectors and NBFCs #Inclusive growth #Growth and development

Context: Recently, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) appointed committee on urban cooperative banks (UCBs) has suggested a four-tier structure to regulate them, based on size of deposits.

Background:

  • Previously in June 2020, the Union government approved an Ordinance to bring all urban and multi-state co-operative banks under the direct regulation of the RBI.
  • In January 2020, the RBI revised the Supervisory Action Framework (SAF) for UCBs.
  • The Reserve Bank in February 20202, has announced setting up of an Expert Committee under the chairmanship of N.S. Vishwanathan on UCBs to examine the issues and to provide a road map for strengthening the sector.

Committee recommendations:

  1. UCBs Categorisation: Committee categorises the UCBs into 04 tiers for regulatory purposes based on the cooperativeness’ of the banks, availability of capital and other factors.
  • Tier 1 with all unit UCBs and salary earner’s UCBs (irrespective of deposit size) and all other UCBs having deposits up to Rs 100 crore.
  • Tier 2 with UCBs of deposits between Rs 100 crore and Rs 1,000 crore
  • Tier 3 with UCBs of deposits between Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 10,000 crore and
  • Tier 4 with UCBs of deposits more than Rs 10,000 crore.
  1. Minimum CRAR:
  • The minimum Capital to Risk-Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) for them could vary from 9% to 15% and for Tier-4 UCBs the Basel III prescribed norms.
  1. Umbrella Organisation:
  • The committee has proposed setting up an Umbrella Organisation (UO) to supervise co-operative banks and recommended that they should be permitted to open more branches if they fulfil all regulatory requirements.
  • The Umbrella Organisation should be financially robust and be well administered by a professional board and senior management, both of which are fit and proper.
  1. Reconstruction:
  • Under the Banking Regulation (BR) Act, 1949 the RBI can prepare a scheme of mandatory merger or reconstruction of UCBs that do not meet the prudential norms, like banking companies.
    • Since 2004-05 till March 2020, UCBs have undergone 136 mergers, with Maharashtra accounting for over half of them, closely followed by Gujarat.
  • As an alternative to compulsory consolidation, the Committee favoured smaller banks acquiring scale via the network of the UO, which is one of the successful models of a strong financial cooperative system globally.
  1. Supervisory Action Framework:
  • SAF should follow a twin-indicator approach – it should consider only asset quality and capital measured through Net Non-Performing Assets and CRAR – instead of triple indicators at present.
  • The objective of the SAF should be to find a time-bound remedy to the financial stress of a bank.
  • If a UCB remains under more strict periods of SAF for a extended period, it may have an adverse effect on its operations and may further corrode its financial position.

Need of Reform:

  • Restrictive Policies:
    • Due to lack of the desired level of regulatory comfort on account of the structural issues including ‘capital’ and the gaps in the statutory framework, the regulatory policies for co-operative banks have been limiting with respect to their business operations, which, to some extent, has been one of the reasons disturbing their growth.
    • With the enactment of the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2020, the statutory gaps have been addressed to a very large extent.
  • Financial Inclusion:
    • Given the significance of the sector in fostering financial inclusion and its huge customer base, it is imperative that the strategies adopted for the regulation of the sector are comprehensively reviewed so as to enhance its resilience and offer an enabling environment for its sustainable and stable growth in the medium term.
  • Vision Document:
    • Drafting a vision document for a vibrant and resilient urban co-operative banking sector having regards to the Principles of Cooperation as well as depositors’ interest and systemic issues is the need of the hour to address the issues of UCBs.

Cooperative Banks:

  • Co-operative Banks are distinct from commercial banks, as they were born out of the notion of co-operative credit societies where members from a community group together to extend loans to each other, at favourable terms.
  • They are registered under the Co-operative Societies Act of the State concerned or under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002.
  • The Co-operative banks are regulated by the
    • Banking Regulations Act, 1949.
    • Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.

 

  1. New Clause in Adoption regulations

#GS2 #Government policies and regulations #Issue related to women and children # Significant Amendments & Their Provisions

Context: As per new clause introduced by Union government in the adoption regulations, Indian diplomatic missions abroad will now be in charge of safeguarding adopted children whose parents move out of the country with the child within 02 years of adoption.

  • Earlier, there was no such provision of such intimation under the regulations.
  • This info has to be given through a written communication by parents, who have to also give full contact details.
  • The notification said it shall be the duty of the Indian Mission of the country to which the child has moved to perform all the assigned duties under the Adoption Regulations, 2017, in respect to the adopted child.

Adoption (First Amendment) Regulations, 2021:

  • This amends 2017 Adoption regulations.
  • This amendment is in line with the related sections of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (2 of 2016) and it amends Adoption Regulations, 2017.
    • Recently Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021, was cleared by the parliament, which seeks to streamline the provisions for protection and adoption of children
    • This amendment provides that instead of the court, the District Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will issue such adoption orders.
  • It has been made by the Central Adoption Resource Authority and has been notified by the Woman and Child Development Ministry.
    • CARA is a statutory body of the Ministry of Women & Child Development. It functions as the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.

Need for these new rules:

  • Indian children adopted by parents in India and who end up moving abroad later, goes out of the purview of Indian authorities and also does not fall under purview of Indian Missions abroad.
  • Such children are vulnerable as they can be abandoned, exploited, maltreated or abuse of these children can happen.

Current Responsibility of Indian Missions:

  • So far, role of Indian missions in inter-country adoption of Indian children was limited to kids adopted by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Overseas Citizens of India or foreign parents.
  • Diplomatic missions at present send progress reports of an adopted child on quarterly basis in the 01st year and on six-monthly basis in the 02nd year, from the date of arrival of the child in the arriving country.
  • The Missions are also expected to contact the central authority or other authorities in the receiving countries to ensure safeguards of children of Indian origin adopted by Non-Resident Indian or Overseas Citizens of India or foreign parents.
  • In case of any trouble with the adoption, the diplomatic missions shall send a report in this regard at the earliest, and provide essential help and facilitate the repatriation of the child in case required.

Eligibility criteria for prospective adoptive parents under 2017 rules:

(1) The prospective adoptive parents shall be physically, mentally and emotionally stable, financially capable and shall not have any life-threatening medical condition.

(2) Any prospective adoptive parents, irrespective of his marital status and whether or not he has biological son or daughter, can adopt a child subject to following, namely,

(a) the consent of both the spouses for the adoption shall be required, in case of a married couple;

(b) a single female can adopt a child of any gender;

(c) a single male shall not be eligible to adopt a girl child;

(3) No child shall be given in adoption to a couple unless they have at least two years of stable marital relationship.

(4) The minimum age difference between the child and either of the prospective adoptive parents shall not be less than twenty-five years.

(5) Couples with three or more children shall not be considered for adoption “except in case of special need children”, “hard to place children” and in case of “relative adoption and adoption by step-parent”.

 

  1. India’s First Smog Tower

#GS3 # Environmental Pollution & Degradation- Causes/Sources and Impact of pollution # National Environment Agencies, Legislations and Policies # Indigenization of Technology & Developing New Technology

Context: Recently, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated India’s first ‘smog tower’.

  • It is an experimental set up that costs Rs 20 crore to purify air in a 1-km radius around the structure.

Background:

  • The Supreme Court of India in 2019, directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi government to take initiative regarding installation of smog towers to combat air pollution.
  • IIT-Bombay then submitted a proposal for the towers to the CPCB.
  • In January 2020, the Supreme Court issues directives on installing 02 towers as a pilot project by April 2020.
  • The smog tower at Connaught Place (CP) is the 01st of these towers. The second tower, being constructed at Anand Vihar in east Delhi with CPCB as the nodal agency, is nearing completion.

About the Smog tower:

  • Smog towers are structures designed to imitate large-scale air purifiers.
  • They are usually fitted with multiple layers of air filters, which clean the air of pollutants as it passes through them.
  • China has the largest smog tower in the world.

How does it work?

  • The tower uses a ‘downdraft air cleaning system’ developed by the University of Minnesota.
  • IIT-Bombay has worked together with the University of Minnesota to replicate the technology, which has been implemented by the commercial arm of Tata Projects Limited.
  • Polluted air is sucked in at a height of 24 m, and filtered air is released at the bottom of the tower, at a height of about 10 m from the ground.
  • When the fans at the bottom of the tower operate, the negative pressure created sucks in air from the top.
  • The ‘macro’ layer in the filter traps particles of 10 microns and larger, while the ‘micro’ layer filters smaller particles of around 0.3 microns.
  • This method is different from the system used in China, where a 60-metre smog tower in Xian city uses an ‘updraft’ system.
    • Here, air is sucked in from near the ground, and is propelled upwards by heating and convection.
      • Filtered air is released at the top of the tower.

Significance of these towers:

  • AS per CPCB, an increase of 258% to 335% has been observed in the concentration of PM10 in Delhi since 2009.
  • PM 2.5 is the most prominent pollutant in Delhi and neighbouring areas.
  • Delhi was the most polluted capital city in the world in 2020 for the 03rd successive year in March 2021, as per the report by a Swiss group that ranked cities based on their air quality measured in terms of the levels of ultrafine particulate matter (PM 2.5).

Challenges:

  • It may provide instant relief from air pollution in a small area (up t0 01 km from the tower) but they are a expensive quick-fix measure with no scientific evidence to back their efficacy in the long term.
    • Small smog towers have been set up in Netherlands and South Korea and larger ones have been raised in China but experts believe that there isn’t enough evidence that smog towers work.
  • However, the actual impact will be assessed by IIT-Bombay and IIT-Delhi in a two-year pilot study that will also determine how the tower functions under different weather conditions, and how levels of PM2.5 vary with the flow of air.

Way Forward:

  • Since there is no scientific evidence that shows its efficiency, administration should instead address root causes and encourage renewable energy to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions.

 

4.Human trails for new HIV Vaccine

#GS2 #issues related to health #GS3 # Developments & Applications of Science and Technology & Their Effects in Everyday Life #Disaster Management

Context: American biotechnology company Moderna, will begin human trials for its novel mRNA vaccine (mRNA-1644) for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

  • The Phase 1 trial will supposedly involve 56 healthy adults aged 18 to 50 who do not have HIV, and will test the safety of the vaccine as well as look for a basic immune response.
  • The vaccine candidate works similar to the mRNA system that’s been successful in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
  • As per World Health Organization, there were around 37.7 million living with HIV as of 2020.

mRNA Vaccine v/s Traditional Vaccines:

  • Vaccines work by training the body to identify and react to the proteins generated by disease-causing organisms, such as a virus or bacteria.
  • Unlike traditional vaccines, which typically contain some part of a weakened or inactivated virus, mRNA vaccines contain an ‘instruction booklet’ that’s passed into our cells and tells them how to make fragments of specific proteins that sit on the outside of the target virus.
  • For a short period of time (usually 24 to 48 hours), our cells begin to make these proteins, and our bodies spot them as foreign and start an immune response.
    • This means when we get the actual virus, our body will recognize the spike proteins and be quick enough to fight it off before infection becomes too severe.
    • mRNA vaccines work by using mRNA, or messenger RNA, which is the molecule that essentially puts DNA instructions into action.

mRNA vaccine for HIV:

  • The vaccine is anticipated to work similar to the Covid-19 vaccine — by making the body’s cells to produce the HIV virus’ spike protein generating an immune response.
  • The larger purpose of stimulating the B cells is to produce what are called broadly neutralising antibodies (bnAbs), which are specialised blood proteins that attach to the surface proteins of HIV and disable them by accessing key but hard-to-reach regions on the virus.
  • Over the few years, there have been significant progress in recognizing new bnAbs from HIV-infected individuals that were seen to target very specific sites in the outer envelope of the HIV.
  • Lab analysis and tests on animals have enhanced the understanding of how the knowledge of these sites can be used to make immunogens.
    • An immunogen denotes to a molecule that is capable of provoking an immune response by an organism’s immune system, whereas an antigen means a molecule that is capable of binding to the product of that immune response.
    • So, an immunogen is necessarily an antigen, but an antigen may not necessarily be an immunogen.

Benefits and Challenges of mRNA Vaccines:

 

5.Sri Narayana Jayanti

#GS1 # Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Context: Recently, Sri Narayana Jayanthi was celebrated on Chathayam day during the Onam season in Chingam month of Malayalam calendar.

  • It marks the birthday of Narayana Guru, a saint and a social reformer of India who fought against the caste system of Hindu religion.
  • The Malayalam months follows the Sanskritic Sauram?sa (solar month) naming convention. Thus, Chingam is named after the corresponding Sanskrit solar month, the Simham, and so on.
  • It is a state festival of Kerala

About Sri Narayana Guru

  • He was born on August 22nd, 1856 in a village near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  • As he Belonged to the Ezhava caste, Narayan Guru had experienced discrimination from the upper caste of society since his childhood.
  • His philosophy always advocated social equality, education for all, and spiritual enlightenment.

Philosophy of Sri Narayana Guru:

  • From a very young age, he was attracted towards asceticism. He lived as a hermit in a forest for 08 years.
  • He educated himself in Vedas, Upanishads, literature, logical rhetoric of Sanskrit, Hatha Yoga and other philosophies.
  • He became one of the chief proponents and re-evaluators of Advaita Vedanta, put forward by Adi Shankara.
  • In 1913, he founded the Advaita Ashram at Aluva.
  • This Ashram was dedicated to a great principle – Om Sahodaryam Sarvatra (all men are equal in the eyes of God).

Significant Contribution for Society:

  • He gave the famous slogan “One Caste, One Religion, One God for All”
  • In 1888, Narayana Guru sanctified the first temple of Lord Shiva, where an idol was ordinated by a non-brahmin in Aruvippuram village of Kerala.
    • This move acted as spark for the anti-caste revolution against the upper-caste Brahmin communities.
  • In one temple he sanctified at Kalavancode, he kept mirrors instead of idols. This symbolised his message that the divine was within each individual.
  • In 1903, he established the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) as the founder and president.
  • He had built more than forty temples across the state as an act of protest to permit lower caste people to enter temples.
  • He organized an All-Region Conference in 1923 at Aluva Advaita Ashram, which was reported to be the first such event in India.
    • This was an attempt to arrest the religious conversions Ezhava community was susceptible to.

Contribution to National Movement:

  • He led the movement for universal temple entry and against the social evils like the social discrimination of untouchables.
  • He provided the stimulus for Vaikom agitation which was working at temple entry in Travancore for the lower castes.
  • He captured the essence of Indianness in his poems which highlighted the unity that lies beneath the world’s apparent diversity.

Literature:

  • He wrote various books in different languages. Few of them are: Advaitha Deepika, Asrama, Thevarappathinkangal, Brahmavidya Panchakam etc.

Relevance of His Philosophy:

  • Sree Narayana Guru’s philosophy of Universal Oneness has distinct relevance in the present-day global context where in the social fabric of many countries and communities are being eroded by hatred, violence, bigotry, sectarianism and other disruptive tendencies.

 

6.‘YUKTDHARA’ – New Geospatial Planning Portal

#GS2 #Development related issues #E-Governance #GS3 #Indigenization of Technology & Developing New Technology

Context: Recently, Union Ministry of Rural development has launched a new geospatial planning portal, ‘Yuktdhara’ to help in enabling the new MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) assets using remote sensing and Geographic Information System based information.

  • It is a new portal under ‘Bhuvan’.

About:

  • It is a final output of joint efforts of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Rural development ministry made towards realising a G2G (Government-to-Government) service for rural planning in backing of decentralised decision making.
  • Earlier launched, ISRO’s Geoportal Bhuvan is at present a de-facto geospatial platform for several developmental planning activities across India.
  • It will serve as a repository of assets (geotags) formed under the various National Rural Development Programmes, such as MGNREGA, Per Drop More Crop Programmes, Integrated Watershed Management Programme, and Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, along with the field photographs.
  • It will integrate a wide variety of thematic layers, multi-temporal high-resolution earth observation data with the analysis tool.
  • Planners will be able to analyse previous assets under several schemes and enable the identification of new works using online tools. Ready plans will be then assessed by appropriate authorities under State Departments.

Bhuvan Portal:

  • It is a type of web portal used to find and access geographic information and associated geographic services (display, editing, analysis, etc.) through the Internet.
  • It shows the true borders of the country as per the information available from the Government of India.
  • By using MapmyIndia maps and apps as an alternative to the foreign country designed map apps, users can better protect their privacy.
  • It is well in line with the union government’s Mission of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

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