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Daily Current Affairs – 12th Jan. 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 12th Jan 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

Rs 1,364 crore given to wrong beneficiaries of PM-Kisan

Context:

According to a response to an RTI request by the Agriculture Ministry, PM-KISAN payments worth Rs 1,364 crore have been wrongly made to more than 20 lakh ineligible beneficiaries and income tax payer farmers.

PM-Kisan

  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi is a central sector scheme under the government of India which provides income support to the farmers and their families.
  • Under the scheme, income support of 6,000/- per year in three equal instalments is provided to small and marginal farmer families having combined landholding/ownership of up to 2 hectares. (The land size criterion has been removed to include large farmers as well).
  • State Governments and UT administrations will identify the farmer families which are eligible for support as per scheme guidelines.
  • The fund will be directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
  • There are various Exclusion Categories for the scheme.

Exclusions:

The following categories of beneficiaries of higher economic status shall not be eligible for benefit under the scheme.

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  1. All Institutional Landholders.
  2. Farmer families which belong to one or more of the following categories:
    1. Former and present holders of constitutional posts.
    2. Former and present Ministers, Members of Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha/ State Legislative Assemblies/ State Legislative Councils, Mayors of Municipal Corporations, Chairpersons of District Panchayats.
    3. All serving or retired officers and employees of Central/ State Government Ministries/ Public Sector Undertakings and Attached offices /Autonomous Institutions under Government as well as regular employees of the Local Bodies.
    4. All superannuated/retired pensioners whose monthly pension is Rs.10,000/- or more.
    5. All Persons who paid Income Tax in the last assessment year.
    6. Professionals like Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, and Architects registered with Professional bodies and carrying out profession by undertaking practices.

Issue:

  • There are 11 crore beneficiaries registered under the scheme.
  • Until July 2020, 20.5 lakh people who should have been excluded had wrongly received PM-Kisan payouts.
  • 56% of these undeserving persons belonged to the “income tax payee” category, while the remainder belong to the “ineligible farmers” category.
    • However, 72% of the payout amount was paid to the income tax payees, indicating that this category continued to receive money for multiple instalments before their ineligible status was discovered and they were weeded out of the scheme’s beneficiary database.
  • Punjab tops the list of States, accounting for 23% of those who wrongly received the money.
  • Maharashtra and Assam also saw a large number of such payments.

Way forward:

  • A number of State Agriculture Departments have now been tasked with recovering the money wrongly paid.

Government defends rules for animal seizure

Context:

The Centre has informed the Supreme Court about the 2017 rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and said that there was a difference between seizure and confiscation of animals, while responding to a petition.

  • The Centre’s response came after last week the court had asked it to amend a rule in the Act pertaining to confiscation of animals before an accused is convicted under the legislation.

What’s the issue?

A plea was filed by Buffalo Traders Welfare Association, challenging the validity of the rules that allow authorities to seize vehicles used in cattle transportation and send the animals to shelters. The petition pointed out that the transporters, farmers and cattle traders were being threatened since the rules were notified.

What has the Centre said?

While seizure is temporary in nature and merely takes possession of property, confiscation amounts to transfer of ownership in the property and is supposed to be carried out only after final adjudication of the rights of the parties in a given case.

Background:

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017:

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  • Framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
  • The Rules allow a Magistrate to forfeit the cattle of an owner facing trial under the Act.
  • The animals are then sent to infirmaries, animal shelters, etc.
  • The authorities can further give such animals for “adoption”.

Concerns expressed by traders:

  • The traders have claimed that they were being forcibly deprived of their cattle which is sent to Gaushalas.
  • These frequent lootings are also threatening the rule of law and generally emboldening groups of persons to take the law into their own hands.
  • Moreover, these incidents are acting as triggers for communal polarisation of society.

Way ahead:

If not halted effectively and immediately, will have disastrous consequences on the social fabric of the country

About the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960:

  • Seeks to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”.
  • The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) was established in 1962 under Section 4 of the Act.
  • This Act provides for punishment for causing unnecessary cruelty and suffering to animals. The Act defines animals and different forms of animals.
  • It provides the guidelines relating to experimentation on animals for scientific purposes.

Single Window Clearance Portal of Ministry of Coal

Context:

Union Home Minister launches Single Window Clearance Portal of Ministry of Coal.

Details:

  • The newly launched portal is a unified platform that facilitates grant of clearances and approvals required for starting a coal mine in India.

Background:

  • Currently, about 19 major approval or clearances are required to be obtained before starting a coal mine in the country.
  • Some of them include approval of Mining Plan and Mine Closure Plan, Grant of Mining Lease, Environment and Forest Clearances, Wild Life Clearance, Clearances related to Safety, Environment, Rehabilitation of project affected families, welfare of workers, etc.
  • These approvals or clearances are granted either by central or state governments.
  • In the absence of a unified platform for grant of clearances/approvals for starting of a coal mine, the project proponents are required to approach different administrative ministries and government departments separately to apply for the requisite clearances leading to delay in operationalization of coal mines.

Now, the complete process shall be facilitated through the Single Window Clearance Portal, which will map not only the relevant application formats, but also process flow for grant of approval or clearances.

Commercial coal mining was announced as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. Auctions were held for the same in June 2020 and it resulted in 19 successful bidders being allotted mines. This is expected to generate more revenue, create additional jobs and also reduce India’s coal imports by 20%.

Additional information:

  • The government has created a Rs. 46,000 crore District Mineral Development Fund for people living near the mines, with focus on the development of districts and especially the least developed villages amongst them.

DEFENCE

Sea Vigil-21

Context:

The second edition of the biennial pan-India coastal defence exercise ‘Sea Vigil-21’ will be conducted for two days in January 2021.

About Exercise Sea Vigil:

  • The exercise is conducted by the Indian Navy and involves maritime stakeholders, including the Coast Guard, Customs, fisheries, fishing and coastal communities in all the 13 coastal states and UTs of India.
  • The exercise was first held in 2019.
  • It was started after the entire coastal defence set-up of the country was reorganised after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks (launched via the sea route).
  • The exercise is massive in scale and expanse in terms of the stakeholders involved, the objectives to be met and the number of participating units.
  • Ex Sea Vigil is also a build-up towards the major exercise TROPEX which the Navy conducts every two years.
    • TROPEX: Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise
    • It is an inter-service military exercise involving the participation of the Indian Army, Air Force, Navy and the Coast Guard.
  • While smaller scale exercises are conducted in coastal states regularly, including combined exercises amongst adjoining states, the conduct of a security exercise at the national-level is aimed to serve a larger purpose.
  • It provides opportunity, at the apex level, to assess the nation’s preparedness in the domain of maritime security and coastal defence.
  • Exercise ‘Sea Vigil 21’ will help provide a realistic assessment of India’s strengths and weaknesses and thus will help in further strengthening maritime and national security.

ENVIRONMENT

Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE)

Context:

Environment Minister releases Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries (2018 – 19).

What is Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE)?

  • MEE is the assessment of how well protected areas such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves, community reserves and tiger reserves are being managed and their effectiveness in conserving target flora and fauna.
  • MEE is a global framework to evaluate the performance of protected areas.
  • Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of Protected Areas (PAs) has emerged as a key tool for PA managers and is increasingly being used by governments and international bodies to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the protected area management systems.

MEE in India:

  • India is among the select countries in the world that has institutionalized the MEE process for its network of protected areas.
  • A new framework for MEE of Marine Protected Areas has been also jointly prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Environment Ministry and it will be a very useful document to implement.
  • The Ministry has also launched the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Indian Zoos (MEE-ZOO) framework which proposes guidelines, criteria and indicators for evaluation of zoos of the country through Management Effectiveness Evaluation Process (MEE-ZOO) in a manner which is discrete, holistic and independent.
  • The first MEE in India was done in 2006 when the management effectiveness assessment of 28 tiger reserves was carried out.

Current MEE Report (2018 – 19):

  • As per the report, West Bengal’s Jaldapara National Park and Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary, Himachal Pradesh’s Sainj and Tirthan wildlife sanctuaries as well as the Great Himalayan National Park have been declared as top-five national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India.
  • Two wildlife sanctuaries in UP – Turtle WLS and Jai Prakash Narayan Bird Sanctuary — and one each in Haryana, Assam and Rajasthan have been listed among the bottom five.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

India at UN high table

Context:

India has entered the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent member and it will stay on the council for two years.

India at UNSC:

  • India has served in the UN Security Council seven times previously.
  • In 1950-51, India presided over the adoption of resolutions calling for cessation of hostilities during the Korean War and for assistance to Republic of Korea.
  • In 1972-73, India pushed strongly for admission of Bangladesh into UN. The resolution was not adopted because of a veto by a permanent member.
  • In 1977-78, India was a strong voice for Africa in the UNSC and spoke against apartheid. Then External Affairs Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke in UNSC for Namibia’s independence in 1978.
  • In 1984-85, India was a leading voice in UNSC for resolution of conflicts in the Middle East, especially Palestine and Lebanon.
  • In 2011-2012, India was a strong vice for developing world, peacekeeping, counter-terrorism and Africa.
  • India chaired the UNSC 1373 Committee concerning Counter-Terrorism, the 1566 Working Group concerning threat to international peace and security by terrorist acts, and Security Council 751/1907 Committee concerning Somalia and Eritrea.

UN REFORMS:

New Delhi has said it is essential that the Security Council is expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.

  • It says India is eminently suited for permanent UNSC membership by any objective criteria, such as population, territorial size, GDP, economic potential, civilisational legacy, cultural diversity, political system and past and ongoing contributions to UN activities especially to UN peacekeeping operations.

MISCELLENOUS

Khadi Prakritik Paint

Context:

Khadi Prakritik Paint has been launched by Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute, Jaipur (a KVIC unit).

About Khadi Prakritik Paint:

  • It is an eco-friendly, non-toxic paint with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties. Based on cow dung as its main ingredient, the paint is cost-effective and odourless, and has been certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
  • The paint is free from heavy metals like lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, cadmium and others.
  • It will be a boost to local manufacturing and will create sustainable local employment through technology transfer.
  • This technology will increase the consumption of cow dung as a raw material for eco-friendly products and will generate additional revenue to farmers and gaushalas.
  • This is estimated to generate additional income of Rs 30,000 (approx.) per annum per animal to farmers/gaushalas.
  • Utilization of cow dung will also clean the environment and prevent clogging of drains.

North East Venture Fund (NEVF)

  • It is the first and the only dedicated Venture Fund for the North Eastern Region.
  • The Venture Fund Scheme launched by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) intended to promote growth of business ventures and skill development in the region.
  • The Fund was formed by the Ministry of DoNER and the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd with an initial corpus of Rs. 100 crores.
  • The fund targets to invest in Start-Ups and unique business opportunities to provide resources for new entrepreneurships.
  • The main focus of North East Venture Fund (NEVF) is for mostly the enterprises involved in Food Processing, Healthcare, Tourism, segregation of services, IT, etc.
  • The investment size with the Venture Fund Scheme ranges between Rs.25 lakhs and Rs. 10 crores with a long term horizon of five to ten years.

Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF)

Context:

PM approves an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to hospital fire in Maharashtra.

About PMNRF:

  • PMNRF was established in 1948 by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. The initial purpose of the fund was to help people displaced due to the partition of India and Pakistan.
  • The resources of the PMNRF are now utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of major accidents and riots.
  • Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment and acid attack, etc.
  • The fund consists entirely of public contributions and does not get any budgetary support.
  • The corpus of the fund is invested in various forms with scheduled commercial banks and other agencies.
  • Disbursements are made with the approval of the Prime Minister.
  • PMNRF has not been constituted by the Parliament.
  • Prime Minister is the Chairman of PMNRF and is assisted by Officers/Staff on honorary basis.
  • The fund is recognised as a trust under the Income Tax Act and all contributions to the fund are notified for 100% deduction from taxable income under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

After 2 weeks, Dzukou Valley wildfire doused

What’s in News?

The wildfire at Dzukou Valley, straddling the Manipur-Nagaland border, has been doused after it raged for two weeks.

Dzukou Valley:

  • The Dzukou Valley, situated at an average altitude of 2,452 metres, is a popular trekking destination known for its exotic flowers.
  • It is located at the borders of the states of Nagaland and Manipur in Northeast India.

Details:

  • Indian Air Force helicopters were deployed for dousing the fire.
  • The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were also engaged in fighting the wildfire.

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