Daily Current Affairs 29-06-2024

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    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    • According to a survey, it has been found that 80% of the public healthcare facilities are substandard. 
    • The government carried out a survey in which public health facilities from states and UTs were covered under the National Health Mission (NHM).
      • At present, over two lakh medical facilities are covered under NHM.
    • As per the report, 17,190 of the facilities that participated in the self-assessment exercise scored less than 50 percent while the rest, 15,172 facilities, scored between 50 to 80 percent, the report added.
    • Only 8,089, which is almost 20 percent of the facilities, scored 80 percent or higher which is needed to qualify as IPHS compliant. 
    • It has been found that these facilities do not meet the bare minimum standards of equipment, infrastructure and manpower with respect to government-set benchmarks. 
    State of Public Healthcare Facilities in India 
    • Lack of infrastructure: India has been struggling with deficient infrastructure in the form of lack of well-equipped medical institutes.
      • The government mandated that private medical colleges must be built on at least five acres of land hence, they were built in rural areas, where there was a lack of adequately qualified, full-time doctors due to living conditions, besides low pay scales.
    • There is a severe shortage of trained manpower,  which includes doctors, nurses, paramedics and primary healthcare workers.
      • The doctor-to-patient ratio remains low, which is merely 0.7 doctors per 1,000 people whereas the World Health Organisation (WHO) average is 2.5 doctors per 1,000 people. 
    • High out-of-pocket Expenditure: While public hospitals offer free health services, these facilities are understaffed, poorly equipped, and located mainly in urban areas leaving no alternatives but to access private institutions and incurring high out-of-pocket expenses in healthcare. 
    • Disease Burden: High prevalence of communicable diseases (such as tuberculosis) and the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases) pose a dual challenge.
      • Every year, roughly 5.8 million Indians die from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes. 
    • Lack of Diagnostic Services: The penetration of diagnostic services in India is mainly concentrated around metros and big cities.
    • Increase in Public Spending: India’s healthcare spending is 3.6% of GDP, including out-of-pocket and public expenditure.
      • India spends the least among BRICS countries: Brazil spends the most (9.2%), followed by South Africa (8.1%), Russia (5.3%), China (5%).
    • Infrastructure Development: Invest in building and upgrading healthcare infrastructure, including hospitals, clinics, and research facilities.
    • Research and Innovation: Foster a culture of research and innovation in healthcare. Provide incentives for pharmaceutical and biotech companies to conduct research and develop new treatments.
    • Telemedicine and Digital Health: Promote the use of telemedicine and digital health solutions to increase access to healthcare services, especially in rural areas.
    • Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs): Encourage collaborations between the government, private sector, and non-profit organizations to leverage resources and expertise.
    • There is a need to adopt technology wherever possible to streamline the operational and clinical processes for healthcare facilities in order to manage efficient patient flow.
    • Also there should be focus on preventive healthcare measures to reduce the burden of diseases along with stringent quality standards for healthcare services. 

    Source: TOI

    Syllabus: GS2/Polity

    • A recent World Bank working paper has called for granting greater authority to Panchayats while strengthening local fiscal capacity to offset what it identified as “recentralisation”.
    • Recentralisation is resulting from the widespread adoption of online payment systems, MIS-based beneficiary selection, and digital beneficiary tracking.
    • The working paper highlighted the Gram Panchayat (GP) council members spend excessive time at Block Development offices and District Collectorates, acting as intermediaries rather than empowered decision-makers. 
    • Enhanced fiscal capacity and broader decision-making authority are deemed essential for improving governance.
    • Empowering ward members (WMs) within village councils, who currently lack financial resources.
    • Building local tax capacity is highlighted as vital for panchayat autonomy.
      • The improved tax collection can be achieved through filling bill collector vacancies, digitizing property records, and granting GPs more freedom to levy their own taxes and cesses.
    • In the early 1950s, the first National Development Council (Balwant Rai Mehta Committee report) recommended the formation of a democratic system of governance at the grassroot level. 
    • In 1993, by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, the Panchayat system came to be implemented in the rural areas to allow for development to happen at grassroot level.
    • There are three levels:
      • Gram Panchayat: This is the village council, the most basic level.
      • Block Panchayat: This council looks after a group of villages.
      • Zila Panchayat: This is the district council, overseeing a larger area.
    • Panchayati Raj is important because it brings democracy down to the village level. 
    • Decentralization of Power: The Panchayati Raj System decentralizes political power and administrative authority which empowers local communities to manage their own affairs and make decisions on local development issues.
    • Promotion of Local Self-Government: It facilitates local self-government by providing a platform for villagers to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives directly. 
    • Inclusive Development: PRIs ensure inclusive development by involving marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as women, Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and other backward classes, in local governance.
      • This helps in addressing social disparities and promoting social justice at the grassroots level.
    • Accountability and Transparency: PRIs provide a platform for citizens to voice their concerns and hold local representatives accountable for their actions.
    • Political Empowerment: The Panchayati Raj System serves as a training ground for grassroots leaders, nurturing political leadership at the local level.
      • It encourages political participation among citizens and prepares them for higher levels of governance.
    • Unequal Capacity and Resources: While some Panchayats are well-equipped with financial resources, infrastructure, and skilled personnel, others lack adequate resources and capabilities to effectively discharge their functions.
    • Political Interference: In some cases, local Panchayats face interference from higher levels of political authority or local vested interests.
      • This undermine the autonomy and decision-making authority of local elected representatives, affecting the effectiveness of the Panchayati Raj institutions.
    • Weak Financial Autonomy: PRIs often rely heavily on funds allocated by state and central governments, which can be delayed or insufficient.
      • This dependency affects their ability to plan and implement local development projects effectively.
    • Social and Cultural Factors: In many rural areas, entrenched social hierarchies, caste dynamics, and gender biases influence local governance. 
    • Infrastructure and Service Delivery: Despite efforts to improve rural infrastructure and service delivery through PRIs, challenges such as inadequate roads, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions persist in many rural areas. 
    • Addressing the concerns requires sustained efforts from both government authorities and civil society organizations. 
    • Strengthening the Panchayati Raj System involves enhancing financial autonomy, ensuring equitable distribution of resources, promoting inclusive governance practices, and empowering local communities to participate meaningfully in decision-making processes. 
    • By addressing these challenges, India can further harness the potential of decentralized governance to promote sustainable and inclusive development at the grassroots level.

    Source: BS

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    • According to the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) 2024, by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Aquaculture surpasses capture fisheries in aquatic animal production for the first time.
    • Global fisheries and aquaculture production in 2022 surged to 223.2 million tonnes, a 4.4 percent increase from the year 2020. 
    • Production comprised 185.4 million tonnes of aquatic animals and 37.8 million tonnes of algae.
    • Aquaculture is the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fish, shellfish, algae, and other organisms in all types of water environments.
    • Global aquaculture production reached an unprecedented 130.9 million tonnes, of which 94.4 million tonnes are aquatic animals, 51 percent of the total aquatic animal production.
    • At present, a small number of countries dominate aquaculture like, China, Indonesia, India, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Norway, Egypt, and Chile, producing over 89.8 percent of the total.
    • Global consumption of aquatic animal foods reached 162.5 million tonnes in 2021. 
    • Of total aquatic animal production, 89 percent was used for direct human consumption. The rest was destined for indirect or non-food uses, mainly fishmeal and fish oil production. 
    • India is the third largest fish-producing country in the world accounting for 8% of global production and contributing about 1.09% and over 6.72% to the country’s GVA and agricultural GVA respectively.
    • India is the 4th largest exporter of fish and fisheries products with a growth in exports of 26.73% in terms of quantity between FY 2021-22 and FY 2022-23.
    • 74.7% of fish production was contributed by inland fisheries and the rest 24.3% was contributed by marine fisheries in FY 2022-2023.
    • Technology Adoption: Limited access to modern technology and practices for sustainable aquaculture.
    • Climate Change: Rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, and changing weather patterns affecting fish habitats and breeding.
    • Pollution: Water pollution from industrial, agricultural, and plastic waste harms aquatic life and ecosystems.
    • Market Access: Limited access to international markets due to trade barriers and quality standards.
    • Infrastructure: Inadequate cold storage, processing facilities, and transportation affecting fish quality and market access.
    • National Marine Fisheries Action Plan (NMFAP): The plan includes measures to improve fishery resources assessment, enhance infrastructure and technology in the fisheries sector, and promote aquaculture development.
    • Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY): It was implemented to bring the Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector in India for a period of five years, from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25.
    • Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF): it was implemented to create a fund to address the infrastructure requirement for the fisheries sector.
    • 100% FDI is allowed under the automatic route in the pisciculture and aquaculture sector in India.
    • Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme was extended by the Government of India (GoI) in the 2018-19 to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to help them meet their working capital requirements.
    • Aquaculture growth indicates its capacity to further contribute to meeting the rising global demand for aquatic foods, but future expansion and intensification must prioritize sustainability and benefit regions and communities most in need. 
    • Many low-income countries in Africa and Asia are not using their full potential. Targeted policies, technology transfer, capacity building and responsible investment are crucial to boost sustainable aquaculture where it is most needed, especially in Africa.

    Source: FAO

    Syllabus :GS 3/Economy /Environment 

    • The government has asked domestic coal-based thermal power producers to continue blending imported fuel until October 15, and reduced the proportion of blending to 4 per cent from six per cent to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply during summer.
    • In an earlier direction issued in March 2024, the power ministry had allowed all thermal power plants to blend up to six per cent of imported coal with domestic fuel till June this year.
      • The move will ensure an adequate supply of dry fuel at power plants to meet electricity demand while reducing the use of imported coal, according to the power ministry.
    • However, the said advisory will not be applicable to domestic coal based (DCB) plants located within a radius of 200 kms from the linked mine/coal source.
    • It involves mixing different types of coal to achieve desired characteristics that meet specific requirements for combustion, efficiency, and emissions control. 
    • It is used to mix the coal with different types of coal or biomass
    • India’s energy landscape heavily relies on coal for power generation. To meet the growing demand and maintain a stable power supply, the concept of coal blending has gained prominence.
    • Efficiency: Blending allows power plants to maintain a consistent heat output, enhancing overall efficiency.
    • Supply Stability: By blending imported coal with domestic coal, power plants mitigate supply fluctuations. This ensures that coal stock remains sufficient even during peak demand periods.
    • Quality Enhancement: Imported coal often has a higher gross calorific value, making it desirable for blending.
      •  The resulting mix improves combustion efficiency and reduces emissions.
    • Environmental: By blending coal with higher ash content and lower sulfur content, power plants can mitigate emissions of pollutants like sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter, contributing to environmental sustainability.
    • Logistical: Coordinating the procurement, transportation, and storage of diverse coal types across different regions demands robust logistical planning.
    • Quality: Maintaining consistent coal quality from different sources can be challenging .
    • Regulatory Compliance: Adherence to environmental regulations concerning emissions and ash disposal requires constant monitoring and adaptation of blending strategies.
    • Open General License (OGL) : As per the current import policy, coal is kept under Open General License (OGL) and consumers are free to import coal from the source of their choice as per their contractual prices on payment of applicable duty. 
    • Regular reviews by Ministry of Coal to expedite the development of coal blocks
    • Enactment of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2021 for enabling captive mines owners (other than atomic minerals) to sell up to 50% of their annual mineral (including coal) production in the open market after meeting the requirement of the end use plant linked with the mine.
    • Single Window Clearance portal for the coal sector to speed up the operationalization of coal mines
    • 100% Foreign Direct Investment has also been allowed for commercial mining.
    • Coal India Limited has planned to enhance its coal production through expansion of mines (brownfield projects), opening of new mines (greenfield projects), mechanization and modernization of its mines
    • Coal blending in India represents a strategic approach to optimizing energy production while addressing environmental concerns. 
    • By leveraging the country’s diverse coal reserves through effective blending techniques, power plants can achieve greater efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and environmental sustainability in the generation of electricity. 
    • As India progresses towards a more sustainable energy future, coal blending will continue to play a crucial role in balancing energy security with environmental stewardship.

    Source:IE

    Syllabus: GS2/International Organisations; GS3/Security

    • Recently, India achieved an ‘Outstanding Outcome’ in FATF Mutual Evaluation conducted during 2023-24 by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
    • It was adopted in the FATF Plenary Session held in Singapore placing India in the ‘regular follow-up’ category, a distinction shared by only four other G-20 countries.
    • It marks a significant milestone in India’s efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
    • High Level of Compliance: The FATF concluded that India had reached a high level of technical compliance with its requirements.
      • India’s anti-money laundering, countering the financing of terrorism, and counter-proliferation financing regime demonstrated good results, including international cooperation, access to basic and beneficial ownership information, use of financial intelligence, and asset deprivation from criminals.
    • Transition to Digital Economy: India’s transition from a cash-based to a digital economy played a crucial role in mitigating money laundering or terrorist financing risks.
      • Measures like the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) Trinity and stringent regulations on cash transactions increased financial inclusion and made transactions more traceable.
    • Economic Implications: India’s outstanding rating enhances access to global financial markets, boosts investor confidence, and supports the global expansion of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
    • FATF highlighted the need to strengthen supervision and implementation of preventive measures in some non-financial sectors.
      • Addressing delays in concluding money laundering and terrorist financing prosecutions and ensuring effective countering the financing of terrorism measures for non-profit organisations were among the recommendations.
    Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

    – It leads global action to tackle money laundering, terrorist and proliferation financing, and continuously monitors how criminals and terrorists raise, use and move funds.
    – It holds countries to account that do not comply with the FATF Standards.
    – If a country repeatedly fails to implement FATF Standards then it can be named a Jurisdiction under Increased Monitoring or a High Risk Jurisdiction, often referred to as ‘the Grey and Black Lists’.

    Black List

    – Countries known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put on the blacklist, that support terror funding and money laundering activities.
    – The FATF revises the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.

    Grey List

    – Countries that are considered a safe haven for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put in the FATF grey list.
    – It serves as a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    • As per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the gross non-performing assets (GNPA) ratio of scheduled commercial banks, may further improve to 2.5 percent by March 2025.
    • The estimate for GNPA ratio for March 2025 is based on the macro stress tests, performed to assess the resilience of banks’ balance sheets to unforeseen shocks emanating from the macroeconomic environment.
      • Stress tests are conducted covering credit risk, interest rate risk and liquidity risk and the resilience of commercial banks in response to the shocks. 
    • Using the stress tests, the RBI projects impairment or bad loans and capital ratios over a one-year horizon under a baseline and two adverse scenarios – medium and severe.
    • The Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPA) ratio is a financial metric used to assess the health of a bank or financial institution by measuring the proportion of its total loan assets that are classified as non-performing.
      • Non-performing assets (NPAs) are loans or advances where the borrower has stopped paying interest or principal repayments.
    • Higher GNPA ratio: Indicates a higher proportion of loans at risk of default, which can be a sign of financial distress for the bank.
      • It suggests that a larger portion of the bank’s loan portfolio is not generating income as expected.
    • Lower GNPA ratio: Indicates a healthier loan portfolio with fewer loans at risk of default, implying better asset quality and financial stability for the bank.
    • Impact of NPAs:
      • Profitability: Higher provisioning requirements against NPAs can reduce profits.
      • Liquidity: NPAs tie up capital that could otherwise be used for lending, potentially constraining the bank’s ability to expand its loan book.
    • Regulatory Aspects: Banks are required to report their GNPA ratios regularly to regulators as part of financial transparency and risk assessment measures.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS1/ History and Culture

    Context

    • Karnataka tourism plans to promote the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Somanathapura as part of Mysore tourism circuit.

    Keshava temple at Somanathapura

    • Location: The Keshava Temple is part of the Hoysala monument, located in Somanathapura town, on the banks of River Kaveri, in Mysore district, Karnataka.
    • The construction of the temple was completed and consecrated in 1268 AD, by Somanatha Dandanayaka, a general of the Hoysala King Narasimha III.
    • The main temple in the center is on a high star-shaped platform with three symmetrical sanctums (garbha-griha).
    • This is a Trikuta Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna in three forms – Janardhana, Keshava and Venugopala.
    • Significance: In 2023, the Somanathapura temple, along with the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu and the Chennakeshava Temple at Belur, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    Context

    • Scientists have figured out how popular medications like Ozempic help people in their weight-loss mechanism.

    About Ozempic

    • Ozempic is used to treat type-2 diabetes. It helps lower sugar levels by promoting the body to produce more insulin.
    • The drugs contain the active ingredient semaglutide which interacts with neurons in the dorsomedial hypothalamus, a region of the brain that plays a critical role in regulating appetite, energy expenditure and even our sleep-wake cycle or the circadian rhythm.

    Source: DTE

    Syllabus: GS2/Governance

    Context

    • Government launched two Geoportals namely ‘Bhuvan Panchayat (Ver. 4.0)” portal for rural land record and “National Database for Emergency Management (NDEM Ver. 5.0)”.

    About

    • It is developed by Indian Space research Organization (ISRO).
    • These latest geospatial tools are meant for visualisation and planning to provide high resolution satellite imagery for different locations across the entire country.
    • Bhuvan Panchayat Portal is to support “Space based Information Support for Decentralized Planning (SISDP)” and empower the citizens at the grass root level in Panchayats.
      • The tools will provide real time data at the tips of citizens and reduce corruption at the grass roots level.
    • NDEM Ver. 5.0 will provide space-based inputs on natural disasters and aid in disaster risk reduction In India as well as neighboring countries. 

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus :GS 3/Economy 

    In News

    India’s fiscal deficit during the first ten months of FY24 stood at ₹11.03 trillion  according to data released by the Controller General of Accounts 

    Fiscal Deficit

    • Fiscal deficit is defined as the difference between the total revenue and total expenditure of the government. It helps indicate the total borrowing that the government would need in a particular financial year.
    • It is a measure of the government’s borrowing requirements and is usually expressed as a percentage of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

    Impact 

    • It is believed that fiscal deficits can boost a sluggish economy by increasing the spending power of people for investment. 
    • However, on the other hand, it is also believed that long-term deficits can negatively impact economic growth and stability.
      • Persistent high fiscal deficits can lead to increased government borrowing, which may result in inflation, higher interest rates, and economic instability.

    Governments Targets 

    • The Centre aims to reduce the fiscal deficit to 5.8% of gross domestic product during FY24, from 6.4% in the previous fiscal year.
    • The government is committed to lowering the fiscal deficit to 5.1% of GDP by FY25.

    Source:LM

    Syllabus: GS3/Defence

    Context

    • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully completed six consecutive developmental trials of High Speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) ‘ABHYAS’.

    About

    • ABHYAS has been designed by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment, Bengaluru, and developed through Production Agencies – Hindustan Aeronautics Limited & Larsen & Toubro. 
    • The trials were carried out with improved Radar Cross Section, Visual and Infrared augmentation systems. 
      • During the trials, various mission objectives covering safe release of booster, launcher clearance, and endurance performance were successfully validated. 
    • It offers a realistic threat scenario for weapon systems practice. 
    • This indigenous system is designed for autonomous flying with the help of an autopilot, a laptop-based Ground Control System for aircraft integration, pre-flight checks, and autonomous flight.
    • It also has a feature to record data during flight for post-flight analysis. 

    Source: TOI

    Syllabus :GS 3/Environment 

    In News

    • National Botanical Research Institute  has undertaken scientific research to preserve and produce flowers used in rituals of  12th century Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha.
    • The most important decoration of the deities in the day is the Bada Singhara Besha.

    About 

    • Davana : Davana, belonging to the family Asteraceae, is an important annual aromatic herb, much prized in India for its delicate fragrance.
      • The Davana springs are commonly used in garlands, bouquets and religious offerings in most parts of the country. 
      • The plant grows wild in the temperate Himalayas. It is common in the Kashmir Valley, the Shimla and Nainital Hills. 
      • It is being commercially cultivated in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
    • Murraya paniculata, Murraya paniculata is also known as orange jasmine, orange jessamine, china box, or mock orange, it has ornamental and medicinal uses and is also used as a living hedge.
      • It is primarily found in India, Sri Lanka, southern China, Thailand, and eastward over the Malesian region to northeastern Australia and Caledonia .
        • The flowers are fragrant and are arranged in loose groups
    Shree Jagannath Temple

    – It was constructed by a famous king of Ganga Dynasty Ananta Varman Chodaganga Deva dating back to the 12th century at the seashore Puri. 
    – The main temple of Shri Jagannath is an impressive and amazing structure constructed in Kalinga architecture, with a height of 65 meters placed on an elevated platform. There are so many festivals of Sri Jagannath during the year observed in Puri. 
    – The most important festivals are the World famous Rath Yatra (Car Festival) & Bahuda Yatra.
    – It is one of the Dhamas (Holiest of the holy place) out of four Dhamas i.e. Puri, Dwarika, Badrinath & Rameswar, in India.

    Source:TH

    Syllabus: GS2/Indian Polity

    Context

    • Recently, the Privileges Panel of Rajya Sabha held several Members of Parliament (MPs) guilty of misconduct for causing disruptions.

    About the Privileges Committee of the Rajya Sabha

    • It plays a crucial role in safeguarding the privileges and immunities of the members of the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of the Indian Parliament).
    Definition and Scope of Privileges

    – Parliamentary privilege refers to the unique rights enjoyed collectively by each House of Parliament and individually by its members. These rights enable them to effectively discharge their functions.
    – When any of these rights or immunities are disregarded or denied, it constitutes a breach of privilege, punishable under parliamentary law.
    Article 105 (Parliament) and Article 194 (State Legislatures) of the Indian Constitution outline the powers, privileges, and immunities.

    Constitution of Committee of Privileges

    • The Chairman of Rajya Sabha shall, from time to time, nominate a Committee of Privileges consisting of ten members. They hold office until a new Committee is nominated.
    • Casual vacancies in the Committee shall be filled by the Chairman.

    Chairman of Committee

    • The Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by the Chairman of Rajya Sabha from amongst the members of the Committee.
    • If the Chairman of the Committee is for any reason unable to act, the Chairman may similarly appoint another Chairman of the Committee in his place.
    • If the Chairman of the Committee is absent from any meeting, the Committee shall choose another member to act as Chairman of the Committee for that meeting.

    Functions

    • The committee investigates cases related to breaches of privilege.
    • It examines complaints against members or others who violate parliamentary privileges.
    • The committee ensures that members can perform their duties without hindrance.

    Powers

    • The committee can summon witnesses, demand documents, and conduct inquiries.
    • It recommends appropriate action against offenders, including censure or reprimand.

    Reports and Recommendations

    • The committee submits reports to the Rajya Sabha, highlighting cases of privilege violations.
    • Its recommendations guide the House in taking necessary action.

    Source: ET