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Sarat Chandra IAS Academy- UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 30th December 2021

CURRENT AFFAIRS 30-12-2021

 

Daily Current Affairs – Topics

                                               

  • RBI and Cryptocurrency
  • State of India’s Livelihood (SOIL) Report 2021
  • The Gig Workers
  • Honey Farmer Producer Organisations: TRIFED
  • Konark Sun Temple

1.RBI and Cryptocurrency

#GS3:  Sci & tech-IT and

Context:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a note on Christmas Eve warning Indians about the financial, legal, and security hazards of Bitcoin. It came four years after the birth of bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency. The central bank’s resistance to cryptocurrency has only become stronger over the last eight years.
  • The RBI informed its board earlier this month that partial limitations on crypto were ineffective and that a “full ban” was required.

In depth information

Background:

  • Despite their popularity as an asset class, private cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which are unregulated, created through a complex procedure, and have very fluctuating prices, are under regulatory scrutiny in India.

In India, the current state of cryptocurrencies is as follows:

  • In India, an inter-ministerial commission on cryptocurrency has suggested that all private cryptocurrencies be banned, with the exception of state-issued virtual currencies.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also expressed worries about cryptocurrencies traded in the market, which it has conveyed to the government.
  • The Supreme Court authorised banks and financial institutions to resume services linked to cryptocurrencies in March 2020, overturning the RBI’s 2018 circular prohibiting them (on the basis of “proportionality”).

What are Cryptocurrencies and How Do They Work?

  • Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that operate independently of a central bank and employ encryption techniques to govern the production of units of money and verify the transfer of funds.

The following are some of the benefits of cryptocurrency:

  • It will be simple to transfer funds between two parties without the use of a third party such as credit/debit cards or banks.
  • It is a less expensive option than other online transactions.
  • Payments are safe and secure, and they provide an unrivalled level of privacy.
  • Only a public key and a pirate key can access a user’s “wallet” or account address in modern cryptocurrency systems. Only the wallet’s owner has access to the private key.
  • The transfer of funds is completed with a minimum of processing fees.

Why is the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) opposed to the usage of cryptocurrencies?

  • Consumer protection:
  • Cryptocurrencies pose a threat to consumers. They are not legal tender since they lack a governmental guarantee.
  • Market volatility:
  • Because of their speculative nature, they are extremely volatile. Bitcoin, for example, has dropped in value from USD 20,000 in December 2017 to USD 3,800 in November 2018.
  • A user loses access to their cryptocurrency if they lose their private key, which is a security risk (unlike traditional digital banking accounts, this password cannot be reset).
  • Malware threats:
  • In some circumstances, technical service providers (cryptocurrency exchanges or wallets) store these private keys, which are vulnerable to malware or hacking.
  • Laundering of funds.

Recommendations of the SC Garg Committee (2019):

  • Anyone who mines, holds, transacts, or deals with cryptocurrency in any way is prohibited.
  • It recommends a one-to-ten-year prison sentence for digital currency exchange or trading.
  • It recommended a monetary punishment of up to three times the exchequer’s loss or the bitcoin user’s gain, whichever is greater.
  • However, the panel suggested that the government keep an open mind about the Reserve Bank of India’s possible cryptocurrency issue.

 

2.State of India’s Livelihood (SOIL) Report 2021

#GS3- Agricultural Produce

Context

  • Only 1-5 percent of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) have gotten support under central government programmes launched to promote them in the last seven years, according to the State of India’s Livelihood (SOIL) Report 2021.
  • It is an annual report released during the Access Development Services’ Livelihoods India Summit (a national livelihoods support organization).

In depth information

Important Points to Remember

  • Cases sanctioned:
  • Maharashtra has the most sanctioned cases (144), followed by Tamil Nadu (104), and Uttar Pradesh (96). The state with the most coverage is West Bengal, followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • Equity Grant Scheme and Credit Guarantee Scheme:
  • The two principal programmes developed for FPOs to obtain cash to support their activities were the Equity Grant Scheme and Credit Guarantee Scheme.
  • Only approximately 1% of registered production companies have been able to benefit from the Credit Guarantee Scheme, which provides risk guarantee to banks that advance collateral-free loans to FPCs up to Rs 1 crore.
  • Policy 10K:
  • The 10K (10,000 FPOs) strategy has helped to raise awareness about the significance of collectivising small and marginal farmers, but more has to be done.
  • FPOs must seek capital, find and establish relationships with consumers, and implement internal governance systems, among other things, in order to build their capacity.
  • They will require capacity building in order to progress from the start-up period to growth and, eventually, maturity. This is a void that has yet to be filled.

Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)

  • It is a generic term that refers to farmer-producer organisations that are incorporated/registered under Part IXA of the Companies Act or the Co-operative Societies Act in the relevant state.
  • It was created with the goal of leveraging collectives through economies of scale in agriculture and allied sector production and marketing.
  • Farmer Producer Organizations are based on the idea that farmers who produce agricultural products might organise associations.
  • The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, has mandated the Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) to assist state governments in the creation of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
  • 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) to be formed and promoted:
  • The Indian government has approved and launched a Central Sector Scheme to establish and promote 10,000 new FPOs between 2027 and 2028.
  • From Chitrakoot, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 10,000 FPOs across India on February 29, 2020.
  • The scheme uses a Produce Cluster Area strategy and a specific commodity-based approach to develop and promote FPOs.
  • The construction of FPOs will be focused on “One District One Product” for the development of product specialisation while using a cluster-based strategy.

FPOs’ Importance:

  • Average Farm Size Declines:
  • From 2.3 hectares (ha) in 1970-71 to 1.08 ha in 2015-16, the average farm size has decreased. Small and marginal farmers boosted their share of the market from 70% in 1980-81 to 86 percent in 2015-16.
  • Farmers can be involved in collective farming through FPOs, which can help to overcome production challenges caused by small farm sizes.
  • Furthermore, due to the increased intensity of farming, this may result in the creation of extra jobs.
  • Negotiating with Corporations:
  • Farmer cooperatives (FPOs) can help small farmers compete with major corporations in negotiation because they allow members to bargain as a group and can assist them in both input and output markets.
  • Aggregation Economics:
  • The FPO can deliver low-cost, high-quality contributions to its members. For example, crop financing, machinery purchases, agri-inputs (fertilisers, insecticides, etc.) inputs, and direct marketing after agricultural produce procurement.
  • Members will be able to save time, transaction expenses, distress sales, price volatility, shipping, and quality maintenance as a result of this.
  • Social Impact:
  • Women farmers’ decision-making and gender relations may improve as a result of the development of social capital in the form of FPOs.
  • This could help to minimise social tensions and improve the community’s food and nutritional values.

FPOs face a number of challenges.

  • Professional Management:
  • There is a lack of/inadequate professional management.
  • Farmers’ Organizations must be effectively managed by experienced, trained, and professionally qualified CEOs and other professionals, who are overseen and controlled by democratically elected Boards of Directors.
  • However, competent manpower to handle FPO firm professionally is currently unavailable in rural areas.
  • Weak Financials:
  • FPOs are typically represented by SF/MF with limited resources, and as a result, they are initially unable to provide lively products and services to their members while also building confidence.
  • Inadequate credit access:
  • One of the primary challenges that FPOs face today is obtaining affordable finance due to a lack of collateral and credit history.
  • Furthermore, SFAC’s credit guarantee cover for collateral-free lending is only available to Producer Companies (other types of FPOs are not covered) with at least 500 shareholders.
  • Lack of a Risk Mitigation Mechanism:
  • While risks associated with production at the farmer level are somewhat covered by existing crop, livestock, and other insurance schemes, there is currently no framework to cover FPO business risks.
  • Inadequate Market Access:
  • The most crucial criterion for the development of FPOs is the marketing of produce at remunerative pricing.
  • Corporate producers set the majority of input prices.
  • The farmers lose in the input and output prices due to the vast range of market procedures.
  • Inadequate Infrastructure Access
  • Producers’ cooperatives lack fundamental infrastructure for aggregation, such as transportation, storage, value addition (cleaning, grading, sorting, etc.) and processing, as well as brand development and marketing.
  • Lack of technical skills/awareness:
  • Farmers are unaware of the potential benefits of collectivization, and there is no competent organisation to provide handholding assistance.
  • Furthermore, there is a lack of legal and technical awareness of different Acts and Regulations pertaining to the formation of FPOs and subsequent regulatory compliance.

Ahead of Schedule

  • FPOs should be able to take advantage of government programmes and schemes that provide equity grants and loans more easily.
  • This can be accomplished by lowering the eligibility threshold, assisting FPOs in meeting the eligibility criterion, or both.

 

3.The Gig Workers

#GS3-Industrial Policy

Context

  • Following the Covid-19 outbreak, there was a boom in demand for gig workers, particularly in the shared services and logistics sectors, which resulted in the proliferation of job finding platforms.

In depth information

What is the Gig Economy?

  • A gig economy is a free market system in which organisations hire independent employees for short-term assignments.
  • According to a Boston Consulting Group report, India’s gig labour consists of 15 million people working in software, shared services, and professional services.
  • Gig economy enterprises are responsible for 56 percent of new employment in India, which includes both blue-collar and white-collar workers.

Exponential Growth of the Gig Economy:

  • Employers can select the best talent available for a project without being constrained by geography in the digital era because the worker does not need to sit at a set location—the task can be done from anywhere.
  • The millennial generation appears to have a unique perspective on work. They prefer to do work that they enjoy than than pursue occupations that may or may not fulfil their inner desires.
  • Increased migration and easy access to employment training

The Effects of a Pandemic on the Gig Economy:

  • Because of Covid-19, businesses were interrupted, and these people needed a way to make ends meet. This resulted in a surge in demand for gig workers as a result of the pandemic.
  • For example, Google announced the launch of its Kormo Jobs app in India in August 2020, which will connect job searchers with opportunities in industries such as on-demand enterprises, retail, and hospitality.
  • However, as the number of gig workers has increased over time, particularly with consumer internet firms such as Zomato, Swiggy, Uber, Ola, Urban Company, and others, workers have begun to complain about a drop in their earnings.
  • It has had two major consequences for the contractual labour ecosystem:
  • To begin with, it has developed new business models to meet the increased demand for on-demand staffing.
  • Second, it has re-emphasized the importance of labour laws that recognise gig workers and establish a universal minimum wage.

Next Steps

  • Need for Clarity:
  • A categorical explanation could assure that workers receive social security benefits without jeopardising platform work’s lauded attributes.
  • Joint Accountability:
  • There is a need for a socio-legal awareness of the variability of work in the gig economy, as well as joint accountability for the delivery of social services by the state and platform businesses.
  • Concerted Efforts:
  • A tripartite effort by the State, firms, and employees to identify where workers sit on the spectrum of flexibility and reliance on platform companies is vital to mitigating operational breakdowns in providing welfare services.

 

4.Honey Farmer Producer Organisations: TRIFED

#GS3- Agriculture

Context

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs recently launched 14 TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India) Honey Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), as well as other initiatives such as The TRIFED Van Dhan Chronicle and the MIS Portal for Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produces.
  • The TRIFED Van Dhan Chronicle chronicles the work done in the country to promote tribal firms and the accomplishments of tribal entrepreneurs as part of the Van Dhan Vikas Yojana.
  • The Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produces (MFPs) MIS Portal is a ready dashboard for TRIFED and Ministry of Tribal Affairs authorised users. Data on the list of procurement centres and their locations, as well as the procurement of MFPs around the country, is available in real time on this dashboard.

In depth information

  • About: In 2020, the federal government announced a programme called “Formation and Promotion of 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)” to help farmers achieve economies of scale over the next five years.
  • The development of 100 FPOs in identified potential Districts/States has placed a special emphasis on beekeeping under this scheme.
  • Beekeeping has been identified as one of the main activities by the Government of India for promotion and development in order to accomplish the “Sweet Revolution” in the effort to increase farmer income.
  • Under the National Beekeeping & Honey Mission (NHBM), the National Bee Board (NBB) intends to build a scientific beekeeping value chain for honey in 100 clusters around the country.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture has designated TRIFED as the implementing agency for the formation of 14 Honey FPOs in the states of Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Gujarat, in collaboration with NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd) and NDDB (National Dairy Development Board).

Benefits:

  • Improvement of scientific beekeeping skills.
  • Modern infrastructure for processing honey and other beekeeping products such as bee’s wax, propolis, royal jelly, and bee venom.
  • Quality control laboratories improve the quality of the product.
  • By enhancing collection, storage, bottling, and marketing centres, the supply chain can be better managed.
  • The first stage in turning Krishi into AtmaNirbhar Krishi is to promote and form FPOs.

Other Government Efforts to Promote Beekeeping:

  • Beekeeping is being promoted by the government as part of a plan to double farmers’ income and assure tribal upliftment.
  • Under the Atmanirbhar Abhiyan, the government has set around Rs 500 crore towards beekeeping.
  • Apiary on Wheels is a mobile apiary. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) came up with a unique approach for the easy upkeep and migration of Bee Boxes with live Bee colonies.
  • As part of the NBHM (National Beekeeping & Honey Mission – central sector scheme), the National Bee Board has developed four training modules.
  • 30 lakh farmers have been trained in beekeeping as part of the programme, which also includes financial help from the government.
  • The mission has three schemes: Mini Mission 1, Mini Mission 2, and Mini Mission 3.
  • As part of the ‘Sweet Revolution,’ the government launched NBHM.
  • In 2016-17, the ‘Sweet Revolution’ was established to encourage beekeeping and related activities.

 

5.Konark Sun Temple

#GS1- Arts & Culture

Context

  • The Archaeological Survey of India is developing a preliminary plan to safely remove sand from the inside of Odisha’s Sun Temple, which was filled in by the British to keep it from collapsing 118 years ago.

In depth information

Background

  • At the end of a two-day national conference on the conservation of the Sun Temple in February 2020, the concept was raised, and ASI was asked to write a report on the methods of removing the sand.

Why was it necessary to clear the sand?

  • It was felt after a research warned of potential harm from sand settling, which resulted in a 17-foot gap between the sand layer and the structure.
  • CBRI recommended that the 17-foot gap be refilled with fresh sand in this report, which was filed in 2019.

Sun Temple of Konark

  • Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE Sun temple at Konark, Odisha, India, around 36 kilometres northeast of Puri.
  • The temple was built in 1250 CE by King Narasinga Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.
  • The Chandrabhaga Mela, which takes place every year around the month of February, is a major Hindu pilgrimage site that was declared a UNESCO world historic site in 1984.
  • Its structure is unique.
  • What remains of the temple complex, dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, resembles a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with massive wheels and horses, all carved from stone.
  • The Shikhara (crown), Jagmohana (audience hall), Natmandir (dancing hall), and Vimana (temple) are all characteristic elements of Kalinga architecture (tower).
  • It is also known as the Surya Devalaya and is a notable example of the Odisha or Kalinga architectural style.
  • Far of the temple, which once stood over 200 feet (61 metres) tall, is now in ruins, particularly the huge shikara tower over the sanctuary, which formerly stood much higher than the mandapa that still stands.
  • The surviving structures and elements are known for their exquisite artwork, iconography, and themes, which include sensual kama and mithuna scenarios.
  • The Jagamohan is presently the sole entirely preserved structure.

Earlier efforts at restoration

  • According to ASI, the British authorities filled it with sand and sealed it in 1903 to strengthen the construction.
  • The sand that had been filled in over a century earlier had settled, leaving a 17-foot gap.
  • The structure, however, was proven to be stable.

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