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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

12 Feb, 2021

48 Min Read

Cryptocurrency

GS-III : Economic Issues Digital currency

Cryptocurrency

Context

  • The government intends to bring in a law on cryptocurrencies to put an end to the existing ambiguity over the legality of these currencies in India.
  • The government has, suggested that it does not consider them to be legal tender.

What is Bitcoin?

  • Bitcoin is a type of digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone.
  • Bitcoin was introduced in 2009.
  • Bitcoin is based on an open-source protocol and is not issued by any central authority.
  • Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency.
  • Bitcoin is the first decentralised digital currency.

Disadvantages

  • Such currencies are:
    • highly volatile,
    • used for illicit Internet transactions, and
    • wholly outside the ambit of the state — into any sort of regulation.

RBIs direction

  • In 2018, the RBI did send a circular to banks directing them not to provide services for those trading in cryptocurrencies.
  • Regulatory bodies like RBI and Sebi etc also don’t have a legal framework to directly regulate cryptocurrencies as they are neither currencies nor assets or securities or commodities issued by an identifiable user.

Supreme Court’s judgement

  • But this was eventually set aside by the Supreme Court, which found the circular to be “disproportionate,” given that the central bank had consistently maintained that virtual currencies were not banned in India.
  • Also, the RBI could not show that entities that it regulated were adversely impacted by exchanges dealing in virtual currencies.

So, what will the Bill seek to do?

  • Cryptocurrency exchanges, which have sprung up, are reportedly lobbying with the government to make sure these currencies are regulated rather than banned outright.
  • Smart regulation is preferable, as a ban on something that is based on a technology of distributed ledger cannot be implemented for all practical purposes.

Findings of India inter-ministerial committee

  • Even in China, where cryptocurrencies have been banned and the Internet is controlled, trading in cryptocurrencies has been low but not non-existent, as an India inter-ministerial committee found out.
  • Despite this and the fact that most countries it studied had opted for regulation, this committee still went ahead to recommend an outright ban.
  • Of course, it encouragingly also batted for an official digital currency as well as for the promotion of the underlying blockchain technology.

Conclusion

  • The government must resist the idea of a ban and push for smart regulation.

Click here for further reading

Source: TH

Order at the border (LAC issue between India and China)

GS-III : Internal security Border Areas

Order at the border (LAC issue between India and China)

Introduction

  • India and China finally reaching an agreement on disengagement at Pangong Lake, which has been at the heart of the recent LAC tensions, is a promising start towards restoring peace in the border areas.
  • Both sides will cease their forward deployments on the north and south banks of the lake in a phased, coordinated, and verified manner.
  • China’s Ministry of Defence announced an agreement “to start synchronised and organised disengagement”.

Withdrawal of troops

  • Both sides have agreed to a temporary moratorium on patrolling in the disputed areas north and south of the lake.
  • All frontline personnel will subsequently be withdrawn over the next two to three weeks.
  • North of the lake, China’s troops will return to their base at Sirijap, east of Finger 8, while India’s troops will similarly return to their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa post, at Finger 3.
  • India previously patrolled on foot up to Finger 8 — there is no motorable road access from India’s side to areas east of Finger 4 — while China has dominated up to Finger 4, having already built a road there and enjoying superior logistics.
  • Starting last summer, Chinese troops had prevented India from reaching Finger 8, leading to the crisis.
  • Now, the entire contested area, from 4 to 8, will become a buffer zone and all temporary infrastructure built after April 2020 will be withdrawn.
  • India will vacate the heights it occupied in an effective countermove in late August in the Kailash range, which gave India much needed leverage to negotiate as well as demonstrated its resolve to match China’s actions.

Pending problems

  • The only pending problems now are smaller, less concerning stand-offs involving fewer troops in Patrolling Points 15 and 17A in the Gogra-Hot Springs area, which will be taken up 48 hours after disengagement at Pangong Lake is completed over the next few weeks.
  • In the Depsang plains, there is no stand-off situation or heavy deployment of troops, but a long-running dispute over the LAC and blocking of patrols that predates the current crisis and as yet remains unresolved.

Way ahead

  • The events of last year have left enormous distrust, which remains a hurdle and China’s actions on the ground have not always matched its commitments.
  • The success of the new disengagement plan will finally depend on whether it is implemented on the ground in letter and in spirit.

Source: TH

World Unani Day

GS-III : S&T Health

World Unani Day was celebrated on February 11, 2021 to spread awareness about health care delivery through Unani system of medicine through its preventive and curative philosophy.

  • World Unani Day is celebrated every year to mark the birth anniversary of Hakim Ajmal Khan.
  • He was an eminent Indian Unani physician who was a great scholar, a social reformer, a noted freedom fighter, a Unani medical educationist and founder of scientific research in Unani System of Medicine.
  • He was one of the founders of the Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi

Principles of Unani System:

  • The Unani system postulates the presence of four humours in the body: dam (blood), balgham (phlegm), safra (yellow bile) and sauda (black bile), a parallel to kapha, vata and pitta, the three doshas in ayurveda.
  • The quality and quantity of four humors affect the state of health and disease in the body.
  • Origin: Unani system originated in Greece. The theoretical framework of Unani medicine is based on the work of Hippocrates (460-377 BC).
  • Role of Arabs: The system owes its present form to the Arabs who not only saved much of the Greek literature by rendering it into Arabic but also enriched it with their own contributions.
  • Indian scenario: In India, it was introduced by Arabs and Persians sometime around the eleventh century.
  • Revival by Hakim Ajmal Khan: It saw the beginning of its revival during the freedom struggle due to the efforts of Hakim Ajmal Khan. He established Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College and Hindustani Dawakhana a pharmaceutical company for manufacturing of Ayurvedic and Unani medicine in Delhi in 1916.

Source: PIB

Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER)

GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture

Prime Minister Modi initiated a scheme for development of commercial organic farming in the region during 2015 which later became to be known as “Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region” (MOVCDNER)

  • Under MOVCDNER, the FPCs get access to shared infrastructure including collection centres, custom hiring centres, processing infrastructure and packhouses, allowing them to add value to their produce and market them well.
  • The scheme provides end to end support to the farmers from farm to fork including quality production, effective postharvest management, value addition through processing and direct market linkages to national and international markets.
  • The scheme besides growing and value adding the traditional crops is also aiming to bring in high-value crops under contract farming models.

Source: PIB

Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020

GS-II : Important Bills Important Bills

  • The Bill aims at decentralizing decision making and to infuse professionalism in governance of major ports.
  • It will empower the Major Ports to modernize and expand port infrastructure, and facilitate trade and commerce.
  • Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) can now fix tariff, which will act as a reference tariff for purposes of bidding for PPP projects.
  • An Adjudicatory Board has been proposed to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires, etc.
  • A simplified composition of Board of Port Authority (BPA) with professional independent Members has been proposed.
  • BPA has been delegated the power to fix the scale of rates for other port services and assets including land.
  • BPAs have full powers to enter into contracts, planning and development, fixing of tariff except in national interest, security and emergency arising out of inaction and default.

Provisions of CSR & development of infrastructure by Port Authority have been introduced.

Source: TH

SAKSHAM (Shramik Shakti Manch)

GS-III : Economic Issues Labour

  • SAKSHAM (Shramik Shakti Manch) is an initiative of Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC).
  • It is a dynamic job portal for mapping the skills of Shramiks (Labourers).
  • It will help in identifying skill proficiency level and development of Skill Cards for Shramiks.
  • It will directly connect Shramiks with MSMEs eliminating middlemen/ labour contractor.
  • It will facilitate placement of 10 lakh blue-collar jobs (pan-India).

Source: TH

Seaweed Mission

GS-III : Economic Issues

Why was this mission launched?

  • Out of the global seaweed production, China produces 57%, Indonesia 28%. Whereas, India is having a mere share of 0.01-0.02%.

Purpose:

  • Under the mission, TIFAC will demonstrate a model for commercial farming of seaweeds, and it’s processing for value addition. It will boost the national economy.

Benefits of Cultivating Seaweed:

    • It is estimated that if seaweed cultivation is done in 10 million hectares or 5% of the EEZ area of India, it can provide employment to 50 million people.
    • Additional benefits of Seaweed cultivation;
      • Improves national GDP;
      • improves ocean productivity;
      • Reduce algal blooms and sequester millions of tons of CO2;
      • Create a healthier ocean and can also use to produce bioethanol.

About TIFAC:

It is an autonomous technology think tank under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology. It was set up in 1988.

  • Mandate: TIFAC identifies the technological priorities of the future like cyber-physical systems, quantum computing, green chemistry and water.

Source: IE

National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation

GS-I : Indian Geography

  • National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization (NATMO) is a subordinate department under the Department of Science & Technology.
  • With it’s headquarter at Kolkata, it is a sole national agency with the responsibility to depict national framework data in the form of thematic maps and atlases to cater the various needs of different sectors.
  • It has the largest repository of spatial and non-spatial data processed with greater accuracy for delivering good quality products.
  • Main functions of this organization are :
  1. Compilation of the National Atlas of India in Hindi, English and other regional languages.
  2. Preparation of thematic maps based on socio-economic, physical, cultural, environmental, demographic and other issues.
  3. Preparation of maps/atlases for visually impaired.
  4. Digital mapping and training using remote sensing, GPS and GIS technology.

Cartographic and geographical researches at national level.

Source: TH

Specialty Steel

GS-III : S&T Indigenisation of technology

  • Specialty Steel (Alloy Steel) contain additional alloyed materials that deliver special properties under specific conditions.
  • Government has approved inclusion of ‘Specialty Steel’ under the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme.
  • This will promote the manufacturing of 'Specialty Steel' within the country to meet the domestic demand by attracting capital investment, generate employment etc.

Source:

Meri Saheli Initiative

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government policies and interventions

  • It was launched as a pilot project by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) across South Eastern Railway for security of women passengers in trains originating in that zone.
  • This initiative has been rolled over to all zonal railways across Indian Railways’ network from October, 2020.
  • Dedicated teams of lady RPF personnel have been formed across all zonal railways for its implementation.
  • Section 58 of the Railways Act, 1989 provides for earmarking of accommodation for female passengers in trains.

Source: TH

History of Uttarakhand : From Borderland to Sacred Place

GS-I : Art and Culture Temples

  • The Artefacts found in the Himalayan foothills are datable to the period extending from 300 BCE and 600 CE include an Ashokan rock edict (at Kalsi), brick altars for conducting ashvamedha yagnas, coin hoards, and sculptures.
  • These developments fostered the growth of Haridwar and Kalsi as cosmopolitan towns and as “gateways” into the Himalayas.
  • The earliest shrines in this tradition were built at Palethi and Lakhamandal, just upstream from Haridwar and Kalsi,by visiting sovereigns.
  • The Palethi and Lakhamandal with royal patronage never became major tirthas. Instead, Jageshwar, situated well east of Lakhamandal and Palethi attained this stature.
  • Between 7th and 10th centuries, builders at Jageshwar modified local geography to encourage comparisons between it and Devadarunavana, Shiva’s legendary deodar forest.
  • The Char Dham Yatra of a pilgrimage to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
  • The Badrinath and Kedarnath have long been associated with gods and sages, like the Mahabharata, Badrinath are described as the site of Narayana’s discourse to Nara.
  • The Kedarnath is mentioned in the Skanda Purana.
  • The both Badrinath and Kedarnath are associated with Adi Shankara who is said to have visited them in the eighth century. Possibly his followers played a role in constructing temples at Pandukeshwar (Dravida and Nagara style).

Source: TH

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