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Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Aug 06, 2020

Current Affair 1:
Saving India’s only pitcher plant

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Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants that attract, kill and digest insects. Found mainly in the state of Meghalaya, India’s only pitcher plant species Nepenthes khasiana is endangered, facing threats from mining, shifting cultivation, and excessive collection, among others.

India’s only known pitcher plant species Nepenthes khasiana is an evergreen shrub considered endemic to Meghalaya. But in 2016, it was reported in Dima Hasao district in the neighbouring state of Assam. It is mostly distributed in Meghalaya’s west and east Khasi Hills, west and south Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills at an altitude of about 1000 to 1500 metres.

 

Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants that attract, kill and digest insects. The plants have evolved modified leaves consisting of jug-like pitchers, which function as pitfall traps that ‘hunt’ prey, mainly insects that curiously approach the pitcher rims and end up falling inside. Often unable to escape the slippery inner walls and sticky fluid inside the pitcher, the unfortunate victims die and enzymes at the bottom of the pitcher digest them to release nutrients needed by the plant.

Because it is at risk of extinction, the plant is included in the Negative List of Exports of the Government of India and it is a Schedule VI species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It is also listed under Appendix I of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), prohibiting the trade of this species.

To conserve this species, methods such as tissue culture, micropropagation and germplasm preservation have been carried out primarily by government institutions. Villagers and students have been involved in various conservation initiatives.

Current Affair 2:
Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)

The Members of Parliament and Local Area Development (MPLAD)Scheme was launched on 23rd December 1993, to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities, including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.

The annual allocation of the Members of Parliament under MPLADS has increased over the years as shown in Table:

Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, as the Nodal Ministry, is responsible for policy formulation, release of funds and monitoring the implementation of the Scheme.

The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Division is entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS). Under the scheme,

  1. Each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector for works to the tune of Rs.5 Crores per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency.
  2. The Rajya Sabha Members of Parliament can recommend works in one or more districts in the State from where he/she has been elected.
  3. The Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select any one or more Districts from any one State in the Country for implementation of their choice of work under the scheme.

One recent decision about MPLADS:

On 06 April 2020, the Union Cabinet took a decision to keep on hold the operation of MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) for the next two years i.e. 2020-21 & 2020-21. This decision was taken in view of the COVID-19 situation in the country, where-in the funds earmarked for MPLADS, will be now at the disposal of Ministry of Finance and can be made available for COVID-19 related containment and relief efforts.

This decision would effectively result in the following.

  1. There would be no further release of MPLADS instalments for period of two years.
  2. Any works which are already sanctioned can be completed using the available funds and no more funds would be released within these two years.
  3. MPs not to make any new recommendations for works.

Members from the opposition parties have said that it is a unliteral decision by government and such centralization can be detrimental to parliamentary democracy. There is also an opinion that earlier track record of Central Government, the delays in devolution funds, could hamper targeted local level works which MPLADS used to take care off.

However, what does the available data and information about MPLADS say about this scheme?

86% of released funds unspent during the first year of 17th Lok Sabha

 

Nearly 2000 crores of unspent amount from the past three Lok Sabhas, with another 1600 crores unspent by Rajya Sabha members.

Around 31% of the works recommended in 16th Lok Sabha remain unfinished

 

During the 16th Lok Sabha, around 3.72 lakh works were recommended by MPs of which nearly 2.57 lakh works were completed over the five years. Nearly 31% of the recommended works remain unfinished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discipline in planning and execution needed to ensure the purpose of MPLADS is met

  1. MPLADS was introduced in 1993, to provide MPs with a mechanism to take up works that are developmental in nature and to create durable community assets.
  2. Taking up local development works without the need to wait for Central or State Level budgetary grants was the key idea behind this scheme.
  3. Accordingly, the allocation was increased from ? 5 lakhs per year to ? 5 crores over a period of time. As per the data in the latest published annual report of 2016-17, the percentage of utilization of the funds ranged around 88-92% over a period of ten years, while the completion of works was on average around 90%.
  4. However, as observed earlier, most of the work happens during the last years of a Lok Sabha tenure.
  5. A more planned approach could help in ensuring that the projects are initiated earlier and completed on time, rather than remaining pending at the end of a tenure.

With the two-year suspension of MPLADS, it is a good opportunity to complete the pending works and utilize the unspent amount. It is also a good time to review the implementation of the MPLADS scheme, before charting the further course of the scheme.

Current Affair 3:
Tsunami Ready Programme: UNESCO-IOC

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Recently, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO (also known as UNESCO-IOC) has approved the recognition of two communities of Odisha viz., Venkatraipur and Noliasahi as Tsunami Ready Communities. With this recognition, India has become the first country in the Indian Ocean Region to achieve the honor from the UNESCO-IOC.

Odisha is the first state in India to have such recognised community.

Tsunami Ready:

It is a community performance-based programme initiated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO to promote tsunami preparedness through active collaboration of public, community leaders, and national and local emergency management agencies.

The main objective of this programme is to improve coastal community's preparedness for tsunami emergencies, to minimize the loss of life and property and to ensure a structural and systematic approach in building community preparedness through fulfilling the best-practice indicators set by the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWMS) of UNESCO-IOC.

Implementation in India:

Tsunami Ready in India is implemented by the National Board (Ministry of Earth Sciences- under the Chairmanship of Director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Centre (INCOIS) with members drawn from MoES, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), Andaman & Nicobar Islands Directorate of Disaster Management (DDM) and INCOIS.

About Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO

Current Affair 4:
Abanindranath Tagore

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The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi has organised a virtual tour titled “The Great Maestro - Abanindranath Tagore” to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Abanindranath Tagore on 7th August 2020.

Abanindranath Tagore, the nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, was one of the most prominent artists of Bengal school of art in India. He was the first major supporter of swadeshi values in Indian art.

The contribution of Abanindranath Tagore towards Indian art and culture are:

Bengal School of Art:

  1. He first created the ‘Indian Society of Oriental Art’ and later went on to establish Bengal school of art.
  2. He believed that Indian art and its art forms gave importance to spirituality as opposed to the West which stressed on materialism, thus rejecting it.
  3. His idea of modernizing Mughal and Rajput paintings eventually gave rise to modern Indian painting, which took birth at his Bengal school of art.
  4. Most of his works revolved around Hindu philosophy.
  5. In his later works, Abanindranath started integrating Chinese and Japanese calligraphic traditions into his style. The intention behind this move was to construct an amalgamation of the modern pan-Asian artistic tradition and the common elements of Eastern artistic and spiritual culture.

Famous paintings are:

Bharat Mata, The Passing of Shah Jahan (1900), My Mother (1912–13), Fairyland illustration (1913), Journey’s End (circa 1913).

Literature:

 

  1. Abanindranath is also regarded as a proficient and accomplished writer.
  2. Most of his literary works were meant for children. Some of his books like ‘BudoAngla’, ‘KhirerPutul’ and ‘Rajkahini’ are best examples of Bengali children’s literature.
  3. William Rothenstein helped Rabindranath Tagore to publish his work ‘Gitanjali’ in English.

Other important points:

  1. Abanindranath imbibed and absorbed not only from his own native tradition but also from the world culture at large, viz Western, Persian, Mughal and the Oriental.
  2. His quest for innovation found a new release in the creation of “Khuddur Ramayana or Khuddur Jatra? – a cut and paste small scrap book. This Epic Ramayana here was composed with the contemporary notions of „appropriation? or borrowing of popular imagery from comic strips, magazines, newspapers, advertisements and other mass media in general.
  3. Katum Kutum Sculptures is associated with Abanindranath Tagore.

Current Affair 5:
Priority Sector Lending (PSL):

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News:

The Reserve Bank of India has assigned priority sector lending (PSL) status to India’s startup sector.

 Significance of the move:

RBI opening up more funds for lending to startups is a very positive step. Startups have not had easy access to debt, stymied by traditional lender metrics of creditworthiness. This is a huge booster as sufficient funding and user adoption are two primary challenges for Indian entrepreneurs.

Besides, Startups have mostly relied on expensive venture debt. This move will help startups free up their equity and raise low cost debt.

What is Priority Sector Lending?

It means those sectors which the Government of India and Reserve Bank of India consider as important for the development of the basic needs of the country and are to be given priority over other sectors. The banks are mandated to encourage the growth of such sectors with adequate and timely credit.

RBI guidelines for PSL for scheduled commercial banks:

  1. 40% of the total net bank credit should go to a priority sector advances.
  2. 10% of the priority sector advances or 10% of the total net bank credit, whichever is higher should go to weaker section.
  3. 18% of the total net bank credit should go to agricultural advances. Within the 18 percent target for agriculture, a target of 8 per cent of Adjusted Net Bank Credit (ANBC) or Credit Equivalent Amount of Off-Balance Sheet Exposure, whichever is higher is prescribed for Small and Marginal Farmers, to be achieved in a phased manner.
  4. 5 of ANBC or Credit Equivalent Amount of Off-Balance Sheet Exposure, whichever is higher should go to Micro enterprises.

Priority Sector includes the following categories:

  • Agriculture
  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME)
  • Export Credit
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Social Infrastructure
  • Renewable Energy
  • Others

Priority Sector Lending Certificates (PSLCs):

Priority Sector Lending Certificates (PSLCs) are a mechanism to enable banks to achieve the priority sector lending target and sub-targets by purchase of these instruments in the event of shortfall. This also incentivizes surplus banks as it allows them to sell their excess achievement over targets thereby enhancing lending to the categories under priority sector.

Go through link of RBIwebsite to read more. Click here.

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