Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - November 18, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Cabinet approves PLI Scheme to 10 key Sectors for Enhancing

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


Context

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to introduce the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme in the following 10 key sectors for Enhancing India’s Manufacturing Capabilities and Enhancing Exports – Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • The PLI scheme will be implemented by the concerned ministries/departments and will be within the overall financial limits prescribed. 

Background

  • The final proposals of PLI for individual sectors will be appraised by the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) and approved by the Cabinet.
  • Savings, if any, from one PLI scheme of an approved sector can be utilized to fund that of another approved sector by the Empowered Group of Secretaries.
  • Any new sector for PLI will require fresh approval of the Cabinet.
  • The PLI scheme across these 10 key specific sectors will make Indian manufacturers globally competitive, attract investment in the areas of core competency and cutting-edge technology; ensure efficiencies; create economies of scale; enhance exports and make India an integral part of the global supply chain.

Highlights

  • ACC battery manufacturing represents one of the largest economic opportunities of the twenty-first century for several global growth sectors, such as consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy.
  • India is expected to have a USD 1 trillion digital economy by 2025.
  • Additionally, the Government's push for data localization, Internet of Things market in India, projects such as Smart City and Digital India are expected to increase the demand for electronic products.
  • The PLI scheme will boost the production of electronic products in India.
  • The automotive industry is a major economic contributor in India.
  • The PLI scheme will make the Indian automotive Industry more competitive and will enhance globalization of the Indian automotive sector.
  • The Indian pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world by volume and 14th largest in terms of value.
  • It contributes 3.5% of the total drugs and medicines exported globally.
  • India possesses the complete ecosystem for development and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and a robust ecosystem of allied industries.
  • The PLI scheme will incentivize the global and domestic players to engage in high value production.
  • Telecom equipment forms a critical and strategic element of building a secured telecom infrastructure and India aspires to become a major original equipment manufacturer of telecom and networking products.

Source: PIB.

Separate religious code for Sarna tribals

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.


Context

  • Jharkhand government convened a special session and passed a resolution to send the Centre a letter to recognise Sarna religion and include it as a separate code in the Census of 2021.
  • For the last many years several protests and meetings have been held by various tribal groups in Jharkhand and elsewhere pushing the same demand.

About Sarna religion

  • The followers of Sarna faith believe pray to nature.
  • The holy grail of the faith is “Jal, Jungle, Zameen” and its followers pray to the trees and hills while believing in protecting the forest areas.
  • Jharkhand has 32 tribal groups of which eight are from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
  • While many follow Hindu religion, some have converted to Christianity — this has become one of the planks of demanding a separate code “to save religious identity”— as various tribal organisations put it.
  • It is believed that 50 lakhs tribal in the entire country put their religion as ‘Sarna’ in the 2011 census, although it was not a code.

Highlights

  • Many of the tribals who follow this faith have later converted to Christianity—the state has more than 4% Christians most of whom are tribals.
  • Some who still follow the Sarna faith believe the converted tribals are taking the benefits of reservation as a minority as well as the benefits given to Schedule Tribes.
  • They also believe that benefits should be given specifically to them and not those who have converted.

Source: Hindustan Times.

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Strategic significance of the Kalvari class of submarines

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.


Context

  • Indian Navy’s fifth Kalvari-class Diesel Electric attack submarine INS Vagir was launched at Mazgaon Dock in Mumbai.
  • Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vagir is the fifth among the six Kalvari-class submarines being constructed by the public sector shipbuilder Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai.

Background

  • The other vessels in the class are INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj, INS Vela and INS Vagsheer.
  • Of these Kalvari and Khanderi have been commissioned in 2017 and 2019, Vela and Karanj and undergoing sea trials, Vagir has now been launched and Vagsheer is under construction.

Highlights

  • Like Kalvari – which means Tiger Shark, Vagir has been named after a Sand Fish, a predatory marine species.
  • Khanderi has been named after an Island Fort built by Chhatrapati Shivaji, which played a key role in his Navy.
  • Karanj has also been named after an Island located South of Mumbai.
  • The design of Kalvari class of submarines is based on Scorpene class of submarines designed and developed by French defence major Naval Group formerly DCNS and Spanish state-owned entity Navantia.
  • This class of submarines have Diesel Electric transmission systems and these are primarily attack submarines or ‘hunter-killer’ type which means they are designed to target and sink adversary naval vessels.
  • These submarines are around 220 feet long and have a height of 40 feet. It can reach the highest speeds of 11 knots when surfaced and 20 knots when submerged.
  • The modern variants of the Scorpence class of submarines have what is called the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) which enables non-nuclear submarines to operate for a long time without access to surface oxygen.

Source: Indian Express.

Finance Minister announces new scheme to promote employment generation

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • Union Minister for Finance announced a new scheme to incentivize job creation during COVID-19 recovery has been launched.
  • If EPFO-registered establishments take in new employees without EPFO registration or those who lost jobs earlier, the Yojana will benefit these employees.

Background

  • Any new employee joining employment in EPFO registered establishments on monthly wages less than Rs.15,000.
  • EPF members drawing monthly wage of less than Rs.15,000 who made exit from employment during COVID Pandemic from 01.03.2020 to 30.09.2020 and is employed on or after 01.10.2020.

Highlights

  • Central Govt. will provide subsidy for two years in respect of new eligible employees engaged on or after 01.10.2020 at following scale:
    • Establishments employing up to 1000 employees: Employee’s contributions (12% of Wages) and Employer’s contributions (12% of wages) totalling 24% of wages.
    • Establishments employing more than 1000 employees: Only Employee’s EPF contributions (12% of EPF wages).
  • The scheme will be effective from October 1, 2020 and operational till 30th June 2021.
  • Certain other eligibility criteria would have to be met, and Central Government will provide subsidy for two years in respect of new eligible employees.

Source: The Hindu.

AatmaNirbhar Bharat 3.0.

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • The government announced several measures to boost job creation, provide liquidity support to stressed sectors, and to step up investment in housing and infrastructure sectors.
  • The Finance Ministry extended the deadline for the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) — under which collateral-free government-guaranteed additional credit is given to MSMEs — until March 31, 2021.

Background

  • In light of the increased crop sown area, an additional Rs 65,000 crore are being provided as fertiliser subsidy over and above the provision in the Budget.
  • Announcing these stimulus measures, Finance Minister said the “unrelenting reform pitch” of the government has helped in a “strong recovery” taking root in the economy.

Highlights

  • The government has launched a new version of the ECLGS scheme to provide funding support to stressed sectors in the economy.
  • This is within the Rs 3 lakh crore loan sanction limit set under the scheme, but it could be raised depending on the demand. Companies that have loan dues up to 30 days (Special Mention Accounts or SMA 0) as on February 29, 2020 will be provided additional credit of 20 per cent outstanding under the scheme.
  • Entities in 26 stressed sectors identified by the Kamath Committee, as well as the healthcare sector, with credit outstanding of above Rs 50 crore and up to Rs 500 crore as on February 29, are eligible to avail funding under the scheme. 
  • The stressed sectors, including construction, trade, hotels, and transport, contributed nearly 83.4 per cent to the contraction in the services sector in the April-June quarter. The ECLGS scheme, which has been extended until November 30, has made disbursals of Rs 1.48 lakh crore against sanctions of Rs 2.03 lakh crore to 60.67 lakh borrowers, as per government data.
  • A five-member expert committee headed by K V Kamath, former chairman of ICICI Bank, which was set up to recommend financial parameters required for a one-time loan restructuring window for corporate borrowers, said in its report that companies in sectors such as retail trade, wholesale trade, roads, and textiles were facing stress. Sectors that have been under stress pre-Covid include NBFCs, power, steel, real estate, and construction.
  • The Kamath committee noted that corporate sector debt worth Rs 15.52 lakh crore had come under stress after the pandemic hit India, while another Rs 22.20 lakh crore was already under stress by then. 

Source: The Hindu.

Crew-1 mission launch

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


Context

  • SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying a crew of four people to the International Space Station (ISS) on a six-month-long mission.
  • Significantly, just ahead of the mission, NASA certified SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket, making it the first spacecraft certification provided by the space agency.
  • This means SpaceX can now operate regular flights to the space station.

Background

  • Boeing and SpaceX were selected by NASA in September 2014 to develop transportation systems meant to transfer crew from the US to the ISS.
  • “These integrated spacecraft, rockets and associated systems will carry up to four astronauts on NASA missions, maintaining a space station crew of seven to maximize time dedicated to scientific research on the orbiting laboratory,” the NASA website says.

Highlights

  • The mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, whose objective is to make access to space easier in terms of its cost, so that cargo and crew can be easily transported to and from the ISS, enabling greater scientific research.
  • The Crew-1 mission will launch the agency’s astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission specialist Soichi Noguchi from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
  • At the ISS, the crew will join the members of Expedition 64, the space station crew currently in residence at the ISS.
  • Significantly, Crew-1 will be the first operational flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS and is the first of the three scheduled flights scheduled over the course of 2020-2021.

Source: Indian Express.

Defining recession

Focus: GS3.                                

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • In its latest monthly bulletin — for November — the Reserve Bank of India has dedicated a chapter on the “State of the economy”.
  • As part of the exercise, the RBI has started “nowcasting” or “the prediction of the present or the very near future of the state of the economy”.

Background

  • And the very first “nowcast” predicts that India’s economy will contract by 8.6% in the second quarter (July, August, September) of the current financial year.
  • While this pace of contraction is considerably slower than the 23.9% decline in the real gross domestic product (GDP) during the first quarter, the contraction of Q2 is crucial because it implies India that has entered a “technical recession” in the first half of 2020-21— for the first time in its history.

Highlights

Recessionary phase:

  • A recessionary phase is the counterpart of an expansionary phase. i.e. When the overall output of goods and services — typically measured by the GDP — increases from one quarter (or month) to another, the economy is said to be in an expansionary phase.
  • And when the GDP contracts from one quarter to another, the economy is said to be in a recessionary phase.

Recession:

  • When a recessionary phase sustains for long enough, it is called a recession.
  • In other words, when the GDP contracts for a long enough period, the economy is said to be in a recession.
  • During a recession, a significant decline in economic activity spreads across the economy and can last from a few months to more than a year.

Technical recession:

  • To get around these empirical technicalities, commentators often consider a recession to be in progress when real GDP has declined for at least two consecutive quarters.

Source: The Hindu.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. With reference to technical recession, consider the following statements:
  • Quarterly GDP is accepted as a measure of economic activity and a “benchmark” for ascertaining a “technical recession”. 
  • So far India has not entered a technical recession in history.
  • During the 2008 global financial crisis, NBER pegged June 2009 as the end date for the recession but some metrics did not recover for much longer.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

    A. 1 and 2 only
    B. 2 and 3 only
    C. 1 and 3 only
    D. AOTA

Solution: C

  • So far India has entered a technical recession in history.

  1. Angami Nagas belong to which state?

    A. Arunachal Pradesh
    B. Odisha
    C. Assam
    D. Nagaland

Solution: D

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