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Daily Current Affairs – 25th Feb. 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 25th Feb. 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

Puducherry: Cabinet gives nod for President’s Rule

Context:

The Union Cabinet approved a proposal by the Home Ministry to dissolve the Puducherry Assembly and impose President’s Rule in the Union Territory.

Details:

  • The decision came after the Congress-led government in the Union Territory lost power during a vote of confidence.
  • The decision was taken as no party came forward to stake claim to form the government following the resignation of the Chief Minister. Subsequently, Lieutenant-Governor recommended President’s Rule.

President’s Rule:

  • The President’s Rule under Article 356 of the Constitution remains valid in the State for the maximum period of six months from the date of issue.
  • Article 356 is also referred to as the imposition of the President’s Rule in the states.
  • According to Article 356, President’s Rule can be imposed on any state of India on the grounds of the failure of the constitutional machinery of that particular state.
  • President’s rule can be imposed if the President receives a report from the state’s Governor or otherwise is convinced or satisfied that the state’s situation is such that the state government cannot carry on the governance according to the provisions of the Constitution.

Note:

  • A Union Territory is a type of administrative division.
  • Unlike the states, which have their own governments, a UT is governed directly by the Union Government.
  • However, in the case of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry, the operation is somewhat different. Both have separately elected governments. The same would be the case with the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

ECONOMY

Cabinet approves PLI plan for pharmaceuticals, IT hardware

Context:

The Union Cabinet has approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for the pharmaceuticals and IT hardware sectors.

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What is the production linked incentive (PLI) scheme?

  • In March 20202, the central government introduced a scheme that aims to give companies incentives on incremental sales from products manufactured in domestic units.
  • The scheme was introduced to boost domestic manufacturing and cut down on import bills.
  • Apart from inviting foreign companies to set shop in India, the scheme also aims to encourage local companies to set up or expand existing manufacturing units.
  • The objective is to make India more compliant with WTO (World Trade Organisation) commitments and also make it non-discriminatory and neutral with respect to domestic sales and exports.
  • The idea of PLI is important as the government cannot continue making investments in some capital-intensive sectors as they need longer times for start giving the returns. Instead, it could invite global companies with adequate capital to set up capacities in India.

Details:

  • The scheme entails an outlay of Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 7,350 crore, for pharmaceuticals and IT hardware sectors respectively.
  • The PLI scheme for pharmaceuticals is for nine years till 2028-29.
  • For hardware, incentive will be given on net incremental sales of goods manufactured in India for four years.

Significance of PLI Scheme for IT Hardware Sector:

  • It will benefit five ‘major global players’ and ten domestic ‘champions’ in IT hardware.
  • It will enhance the development of the electronics ecosystem in the country.

Significance of PLI Scheme for the Pharma Sector:

  • It will benefit domestic manufacturers, help create employment and is expected to contribute to the availability of a wider range of affordable medicines for consumers.
  • The scheme is expected to bring in investment of Rs 15,000 crore in the pharmaceutical sector.
  • It is s expected to promote the production of high-value products in the country and increase the value addition in exports.
  • The growth in the sector is expected to add 20,000 direct and 80,000 indirect jobs for both skilled and unskilled personnel.
  • The scheme also aims to create global champions from India that have the potential to grow in size and scale using cutting edge technology and thereby penetrate global value chains.

Private banks can handle govt. business now: FM

Context:

The Finance Minister announced that the embargo on private banks handling government business had been lifted.

Details:

  • The government’s decision has been conveyed to the Reserve Bank of India.
    • RBI is entrusted with authorising private banks to undertake handling of government and its agencies’ business.
    • Only a few private banks were permitted to take up such business earlier.

Significance:

  • This paves way for private banks to handle tax payments, pension payments and even small savings schemes.
  • Private banks can now be equal partners in the development of the Indian economy, furthering Govt.’s social sector initiatives, and enhancing customer convenience.

ENVIRONMENT

Winter pollution on the rise: CSE

Context:

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) – a non-governmental research organisation’s study on rising winter pollution.

Key Findings:

  • The levels of PM 2.5 worsened in 43 of 99 cities whose winter air in 2020 and 2019 were compared by the research organisation.
  • Only 19 registered “substantial improvement” — one of these was Chennai.
  • In the aftermath of the lockdown, several cities reported improved pollution levels but by winter, when the restrictions were significantly eased, pollution levels had clawed back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • In 37 cities that were otherwise showing stable or declining seasonal averages, their peak pollution levels saw a rise, significantly during winter.

Issues:

  • During winter, cool and calm weather traps and spikes daily pollution, particularly in north Indian cities located in the Indo-Gangetic Plain.
  • The bouncing back of pollution post-lockdown highlights the high impacts of local and regional pollution.

Way Forward:

  • This demands quicker regional reforms to curb pollution from vehicles, industry, power plants.
  • Waste burning and stubble burning must be ended to curb winter pollution.
  • There is a dire need to sustain annual improvement at a regional scale with speed.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Imran announces $50 mn defence credit line for Sri Lanka

What’s in News?

Pakistani Prime Minister announced a $50 million defence credit line facility for Sri Lanka.

  • Pakistani Prime Minister was on a two-day visit to Colombo, accompanied by a high-level governmental and business delegation.
  • It was the first visit by the Pakistani Prime Minister since the formation of the new governments in both countries.
  • Both the countries stressed the need for stronger partnership in security, combating terrorism, organised crime and drug and narcotic trafficking, and intelligence-sharing.

MISCELLANEOUS

Ghana first country to receive COVAX vaccines

What’s in News?

Ghana received the world’s first delivery of coronavirus vaccines from the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative.

  • This marks the beginning of the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
  • The aim of the COVAX facility is to ensure that the people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines.

COVAX Project:

  • The COVAX project is a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, an ambitious programme based on funding from high and middle-income countries.
  • It is a unique case of global cooperation and a strategic shift to enhance global development outcomes.
  • COVAX aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
  • It aims to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.
  • COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO.

Concerns:

  • The initiative has been hampered by the severely limited global supply of doses and logistical problems.
  • Although it aims to deliver 2 billion shots by end of 2021, it currently has agreements only for several hundred million shots.

‘Monetise or modernise’ is Modi’s mantra for govt. assets

What’s in News?

The government has announced its decision to privatise most public sector entities and monetise ‘unutilised and underutilised assets’ such as airports that have an estimated investment potential of ?2.5 lakh crore.

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  • The Prime Minister urged foreign investors to tap investment opportunities thrown up by the government.
  • He stated that the government’s mantra is ‘Monetise or Modernise’ stressing that the funds raised from the exercise will help empower citizens.
  • He stressed that the private sector can not only bring capital but also introduce global best practices and quality manpower and modernise enterprises.

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