Daily Current Affairs for UPSC – 28th August 2023

GS 1

Indore best city, M.P. top State in Smart Cities contest

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-26/th_delhi/articleG42BLS7RG-4033328.ece

Context: The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs organized the India Smart Cities Award Contest (ISAC) 2022 to acknowledge and honor exceptional achievements in sustainable development within the framework of the Smart Cities Mission.

Relevance: GS -1 developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

The awards were announced recently, recognizing cities, projects, and ideas that contribute to creating inclusive, safe, and collaborative urban spaces across the 100 smart cities in India.

Award Categories: The ISAC 2022 awards were divided into several categories, with a two-stage submission process. The categories included the following:

  • Best Smart City Award: Recognizing the top-performing smart city that demonstrates exemplary progress in various aspects of urban development.
  • Best State Award: Acknowledging the state that showcases outstanding performance and commitment to the Smart Cities Mission.
  • Best Union Territory Award: Recognizing the best-performing Union Territory in terms of sustainable urban development.
  • City Rankings: Awarding the second and third place winners among cities in terms of their contributions to the Smart Cities Mission.
  • State Rankings: Awarding states based on their performance in the Smart Cities Mission.

Winners: The ISAC 2022 awards celebrated the achievements of various entities in different categories:

  • Best Smart City: Indore was awarded the best smart city, highlighting its remarkable advancements in urban development.
  • Best State: Madhya Pradesh received recognition as the top state for its exceptional commitment and performance within the Smart Cities Mission.
  • City Rankings: Surat and Agra secured the second and third place positions, respectively, among cities, showcasing their significant contributions to the mission’s objectives.
  • State Rankings: Tamil Nadu secured the second position in the state category, followed by Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, showcasing their commitment to sustainable urban development.
  • Best Union Territory: Chandigarh was recognized as the best Union Territory for its achievements in promoting sustainable urban growth.

Award Presentation:

  • President Droupadi Murmu is scheduled to present the awards in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. This event will mark the fourth edition of the ISAC awards, previously held in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
  • The 2022 edition was launched during the ‘Smart Cities-Smart Urbanisation’ event in Surat in April of the previous year.

Submission Process: The ISAC 2022 awards followed a comprehensive two-stage submission process:

  • Qualifying Stage: This stage involved an overall assessment of each city’s performance within the Smart Cities Mission.
  • Proposal Stage: The nominated smart cities were required to submit their entries for six award categories, showcasing their contributions and innovations in sustainable urban development.

GS 2

India and Greece pledge to upgrade ties to become strategic partners

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-26/th_delhi/articleG42BLS7R5-4033315.ece

Context: India and Greece have declared their intention to elevate their bilateral relations to the level of a strategic partnership. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Athens.

Relevance: GS -2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Defense Collaboration:

  • Both nations will collaborate in the area of defense.
  • Aiming to strengthen defense industries and forge stronger military connections.

Migration Mobility Agreement:

  • Agreement on migration mobility is in the pipeline.
  • Purpose is to facilitate smoother movement of skilled individuals between the two countries.

Commitment to Freedom of Navigation:

  • Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed commitment to ensuring freedom of navigation.
  • Shared concerns on this matter acknowledged in the Eastern Mediterranean and Indo-Pacific regions.

Historical and Modern Ties:

  • Prime Minister Modi highlighted historical ties tracing back to the era of Alexander the Great.
  • Plan to enhance cultural, academic exchanges involving educational institutions, and boost people-to-people interactions.

Recollection of Previous Visits:

  • Mitsotakis recalled the 1983 visit of Indira Gandhi, the last Indian Prime Minister to tour Greece.
  • Significance of past visits in strengthening bilateral engagement.

Maritime Security and International Law:

  • Both leaders reaffirmed dedication to maritime security and adherence to international law.
  • Convention on the Law of the Sea’s importance stressed, given mutual concerns in Eastern Mediterranean and Indo-Pacific Ocean.

Seeking Investment:

  • Mitsotakis invited investment from Indian entities.
  • Aims to stimulate economic collaboration and further cement ties between the two countries.

Rethink the dynamics of India’s fiscal federalism

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-26/th_delhi/articleG42BLS7SK-4033302.ece

Context: The Indian Constitution, designed as a ‘holding together federation’ with a unitary inclination, was molded by the forces of fragmentation and separatism pre-Independence.

Relevance: GS 3 Economy

Equity-Oriented Intergovernmental Transfers:

  • Calls for a more equitable approach to India’s intergovernmental transfer system.
  • Market-mediated growth has disproportionately favored the propertied class.
  • Recent tax exemptions and concessions have benefited the affluent, affecting the divisible pool’s size.
  • Equity should be a central concern of the 16th Finance Commission.
  • Human Development Index (HDI) could be a criterion for horizontal tax devolution.

Revisiting Powers and Responsibilities:

  • The changing landscape necessitates a fresh look at Article 246 and the Seventh Schedule.
  • Multi-party system replaces the one-party rule of post-Independence times.
  • Central legislation like MGNREGA, RTE Act, and NFSA impose added burdens on States.
  • Need for a denovo division of powers, functions, and responsibilities.

Application of Subsidiarity Principle:

  • The Constitution’s formation didn’t fully address the ‘who should do what and who should tax what’ question.
  • The subsidiarity principle, i.e., tasks best suited to a level should be done at that level, was ignored.
  • The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments didn’t address this, leading to confusion.
  • Calls for a new local list mapping functional and financial responsibilities of local governments.

Empowering Local Bodies:

  • The third tier of government often termed ‘local bodies’ rather than ‘institutions of self-government.’
  • Lack of uniform financial reporting system across tiers of government.
  • Disregard for local democratic institutions’ potential despite 3.2 million elected representatives and 2.5 lakh local governments.
  • Local bodies play a critical role in providing standard-quality basic services.

Review of Off-Budget Borrowing:

  • The practice of off-budget borrowing by both Union and States needs reevaluation.
  • Off-budget borrowings are unscrutinized and often unreported.
  • Central government’s off-budget borrowing practices more substantial.
  • Union’s use of National Small Saving Fund (NSSF) for extra-budgetary financing distorts fiscal deficit calculations.
  • Calls for transparency and public accountability in extra-budgetary transactions.

GS 3

Why did Chandrayaan-3 land on the near side of the moon?

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-26/th_delhi/articleG42BLS7QV-4033318.ece

Context: The moon’s distinct sides—near, far, and dark—hold unique characteristics and have been a focus of space exploration efforts.

Relevance: GS 3 Space

Near and Far Sides Defined:

  • The “near side” of the moon, which constitutes about 60% of its surface, is visible from Earth due to synchronous rotation.
  • The “far side” refers to the hidden side of the moon that faces away from Earth. It receives sunlight when the “new moon” phase occurs.

Comparing the Near and Far Sides:

  • The near side has a smoother surface with “maria” (large volcanic plains), while the far side has more extensive craters.
  • The near side’s terrain is more suitable for space missions due to flatter surfaces that facilitate landers and rovers.
  • China’s Chang’e 4 mission is the only one to land on the far side, specifically in the South Pole Aitken basin.

Chandrayaan-3’s Landing and Significance:

  • Chandrayaan-3 successfully landed the Vikram lander closest to the lunar South Pole, about 600 km away.
  • The choice of landing near the South Pole was aimed at exploring “permanently shadowed regions” and harvesting resources like frozen water-ice.
  • This landing increased the chance of encountering unique deposits and providing valuable insights about the moon.

Landing Site Selection:

  • Landing on the near side was driven by the need for direct line-of-sight communication with Earth.
  • Communication is essential for real-time updates and relay functions between the rover and Earth.
  • Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter could potentially serve as a relay, but reorienting its orbit would lead to transmission delays.

Mission Objectives Determine Landing:

  • Landing locations are chosen based on mission objectives.
  • Landing on the far side requires relay communication, which can lead to transmission delays.
  • Landing on the near side, where direct communication is possible, aligns with Chandrayaan-3’s goals of executing a successful controlled landing.

Cleantech, for an inclusive green future in India

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-26/th_delhi/articleG42BLS7SI-4033303.ece

Context: In his recent Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized India’s role in combatting climate change.

Relevance: GS 3 Conservation

Cleantech for Livelihoods in Hinterlands:

  • Examples of solar dryers, biomass-powered cold storages, and solar silk reeling machines in states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Odisha.
  • Over 50,000 instances of cleantech solutions contributing to rural jobs and incomes.
  • Green economy approach aligns economic growth with climate action.

Structural Boost Required:

  • Rural economy with 120 million farmers and 34 million microenterprises faces challenges like unreliable electricity and dependence on expensive diesel.
  • Cleantech solutions powered by renewable energy can enhance livelihoods, reduce diesel imports, prevent food loss, and offer investment opportunities worth $50 billion.

Scaling the Green Economy Paradigm:

  • Research by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) shows that 12 cleantech solutions can impact 37 million livelihoods.
  • Need for a three-fold approach to scale from 50,000 instances to millions.

Leveraging Existing Government Programs:

  • Government schemes like Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana, PM-FME, and Agriculture Infrastructure Fund can promote cleantech adoption.
  • Programs can extend support to solar dryers, energy-efficient food processors, solar refrigerators, and biomass-powered cold storages.

Enabling Large-scale Financing:

  • Financial institutions need capacity building on assessing cleantech credit.
  • Initial market risks can be mitigated through partial guarantees.
  • Engaging with financiers to align loan products with users’ cash flow scenarios.

Creating Multi-Actor Partnerships:

  • Collaboration between technology innovators, manufacturers, distributors, financiers, and market-linkage players.
  • Creating an ecosystem where distributors enable last-mile access, service providers ensure after-sales support, and market-linkage players connect products to markets.
  • Example of solar dryer companies offering financing, product adoption, and market linkage.

Green Future for Inclusive Development:

  • India’s ambitious green goals can be achieved through cleantech integration into rural livelihoods.
  • Focus on cleantech can lead to an inclusive, green future for rural India.

Leave a Reply