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27th May Current Affairs

Contents

  1. India-China LAC standoff
  2. Sariska tigress gives birth to triplets
  3. Govt. looks at RBI to monetise deficit
  4. SC asks govts to arrange food, transportation for migrants
  5. States ask Centre to make rural jobs scheme more inclusive
  6. Aarogya Setu app is now open source

INDIA – CHINA LAC STANDOFF

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • The Prime Minister on 26TH May 2020 reviewed the current situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the ongoing standoff with China with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat and the three Service Chiefs.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping during his annual meeting with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) on May 26, called on the military “to think about worst-case scenarios” and “scale up battle preparedness”.

Background to the tense situation

  • The Border tensions between India and China have flared up once again with at least two incidents of violent clashes and stone-pelting taking place between rival troops in Ladakh and Sikkim.
  • Several rounds of talks on the ground up to the level of Division Commanders have failed to break the impasse.
  • Thus far, the MEA has issued only one statement on the tensions at LAC, in which it said Chinese troops were “hindering India’s normal patrolling patterns”, and denied Chinese accusations.
  • MEA officials have also said “established mechanisms” are in place to resolve the issue, indicating their relative silence on the issue is to enable talks between military commanders and diplomatic channels to proceed.
  • Chinese MFA had accused Indian troops of “crossing the line” across Ladakh and Sikkim, of “infringement activities” and of “attempting to unilaterally change the status of border control.”
  • The Chinese Embassy also denied reports that flights arranged to repatriate citizens were connected to the ongoing tensions at the LAC in any way.

Details

  • The Indian meeting was to review the implementation of the recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee but the Ladakh standoff was discussed.
  • The Chinese President’s speech focused on the post-pandemic situation, as he heard the PLA members of Parliament reporting on “strengthening training amid the epidemic, and accelerating capacity building on biosecurity defence”.
  • Mr. Xi’s remarks will be closely parsed in India, amid the on-going border stand-off, and also in Taiwan, with heightened tensions.

Click Here to read more about the LAC, Pangong Tso and India – China Standoff

-Source: The Hindu


SARISKA TIGRESS GIVES BIRTH TO TRIPLETS

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

TSix-year-old tigress ST-12 has given birth to triplets one more time in Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR), making it a record for a tigress to have six surviving cubs in STR.

Now, more than a quarter of STR’s tiger population comprises the offspring of ST-12.

Sariska Tiger Reserve

  • Sariska Tiger Reserve is a tiger reserve located in Aravali hills as a part of Alwar district, Rajasthan, India.
  • STR is comprising scrub-thorn arid forests, dry deciduous forests, grasslands, and rocky hills.
  • This area was a hunting preserve of the Alwar state and was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955.
  • It was given the status of a tiger reserve making it a part of India’s Project Tiger in 1978.
  • The wildlife sanctuary was declared a national park in 1990.
  • It is the first reserve in the world with successfully relocated tigers.
  • It is an important biodiversity area in the Northern Aravalli leopard and wildlife corridor.
  • It is a part of the Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion.
  • Forest types: tropical, dry, deciduous, and tropical thorn
  • It is rich in mineral resources, such as copper. In spite of the Supreme Court’s 1991 ban on mining in the area, marble mining continues to threaten the environment.
  • The Sanctuary also houses ruined temples, forts, pavilions and a palace.
  • SRT is immensely rich in flora and fauna, and apart from the Bengal Tiger that it is famous for the SRT also has populations of leopards, Nilgai, Sambar, chital, Indian peafowl, crested serpent eagles, sand grouse, etc.

Click Here to Read more about the NTCA, WCCB and CZA

-Source: Times of India


GOVT. LOOKS AT RBI TO MONETISE DEFICIT

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The Centre is likely to look at the option of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetising the deficit in the second half of the financial year, with the Centre seriously examining the issue.

Details

  • The assessment within the government is that expenditure in the first half of the financial year would be met through market borrowing and spending re-prioritisation for various ministries.
  • There is an uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last and the government is not keen on rushing into any decisions so early in the financial year.
  • The RBI’s monetisation of the fiscal deficit broadly means the central bank printing currency for the government to take care of any emergency spending and to bridge its fiscal deficit — this action is resorted to under emergency situations.

Why do we have to resort to such a serious step now?

  • This practice was followed in 1980s and late 1990s, where the central bank helped in funding the deficit.
  • But since then, several reforms have been ushered in, including the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM), to keep a hawk eye on the fiscal deficit and prompt governments to follow a fiscally prudent path.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on revenues, both direct and indirect, due to the three-month national lockdown unveiled to stop spread of the coronavirus.
  • This has pushed the government to raise its full-year borrowing plan by nearly 50% to help meet its spending commitments due to the pandemic.
  • Experts have said the move could push the fiscal deficit to 5.5% of the GDP from the earlier target of 3.5%.

The problem with printing money

  • Printing more money doesn’t increase economic output – it only increases the amount of cash circulating in the economy.
  • If more money is printed, consumers are able to demand more goods, but if firms have still the same amount of goods, they will respond by putting up prices.
  • In a simplified model, printing money will just cause inflation.
  • If the option of Printing more money becomes extensively used, then this will also lead to hyper-inflation.

Examples of countries which have printed money to solve problems and landed in trouble:

  • This phenomenon of hyper-inflation being induced by printing of more money has happened recently in Zimbabwe, in Africa, and in Venezuela, in South America, when these countries printed more money to try to make their economies grow.
  • As the printing presses sped up, prices rose faster, until these countries started to suffer from something called “hyperinflation”.
  • When Zimbabwe was hit by hyperinflation, in 2008, prices rose as much as 231,000,000% in a single year. To put into perspective, a chocolate that cost one Zimbabwe dollar before the inflation would now cost 231m Zimbabwean dollars a year later.
  • Venezuela tried to protect its people from hyperinflation by passing laws to keep a low price on things people need most, like food and medicines. But that just meant that the shops and pharmacies ran out of those things.

Why is inflation such a problem?

  • Fall in value of savings: If people have cash savings, then inflation will erode the value of your savings. £1 million marks in 1921 was a lot. But, due to inflation, two years later, your savings would have become worthless. High inflation can also reduce the incentive to save.
  • Menu costs: If inflation is very high, then it becomes harder to make transactions. Prices frequently change. Firms have to spend more on changing price lists. In the hyperinflation of Germany, prices rose so rapidly; people used to get paid twice a day. If you didn’t buy bread straight away, it would become too expensive, and this is destabilising for the economy.
  • Uncertainty and confusion: High inflation creates uncertainty. Periods of high inflation discourage firms from investing and can lead to lower economic growth.

-Source: Times of India


SC ASKS GOVTS TO ARRANGE FOOD, TRANSPORTATION FOR MIGRANTS

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

The Supreme Court on 26th May, pointed to inadequacies and lapses in measures taken by the Centre and state governments in addressing difficulties faced by migrant workers because of the Covid -19 lockdown, as it took suo motu cognizance of the crisis two months after it started.

Details

  • A three-judge bench of the top court headed by justice Ashok Bhushan issued notice to the central and state governments.
  • The SC Order said Adequate transport arrangement, food and shelters are immediately to be provided by the Centre and state governments free of cost
  • The court asked the Centre and states to file their responses, treating the matter as urgent.

SC In the Past on Migrant Issue

-Source: Hindustan Times


STATES ASK CENTRE TO MAKE RURAL JOBS SCHEME MORE INCLUSIVE

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

The State governments across the political spectrum have asked the Centre to expand the scope of the national rural jobs programme, as they try to accommodate millions of migrant workers returning from towns and cities amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Details of the Demands

  • The demands of the State Governments include increasing the number of workdays under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), and expanding its scope by including several types of labour.
  • The extent of the problem can be understood from the fact that the worst affected states, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have seen over three million labourers returning home.
  • State governments have demanded that building roads, flyovers, bridges and rural housing should be included in the ambit of MGNREGS to help employ more people.
  • States have demanded that farm operations be considered under the scheme for this fiscal year while traditionally they are not part of it.
  • Chhattisgarh Chief Minister had earlier suggested including direct cash transfers to those covered under MGNREGS and from unorganized sectors.

-Source: Livemint


AAROGYA SETU APP IS NOW OPEN SOURCE

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

Amid concerns over privacy of data being collected by its coronavirus contact tracing app, the government on 26th May said it was open sourcing Aarogya Setu.

Measures to Address security issues

  • The government has also launched a Bug Bounty programme wherein financial rewards will be given to security researchers for finding any vulnerability in the application or suggesting improvements to the source code.
  • With open sourcing, developers can look at the code of the application, suggest improvements and also use it to develop similar products.
  • This move is aiming at expanding collaboration and to leverage the expertise of top technical brains amongst the talented youth and citizens of our nation and to collectively build a robust and secure technology solution to help support the work of frontline health workers in fighting this pandemic together

What is open source?

  • Open source products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product.
  • Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.
  • “Source code” is the part of software that most computer users don’t ever see; it’s the code computer programmers can manipulate to change how a piece of software—a “program” or “application”—works.
  • Programmers who have access to a computer program’s source code can improve that program by adding features to it or fixing parts that don’t always work correctly.
  • Some software has source code that only the person, team, or organization who created it—and maintains exclusive control over it—can modify. People call this kind of software “proprietary” or “closed source” software.
  • Open source software is different. Its authors make its source code available to others who would like to view that code, copy it, learn from it, alter it, or share it.

-Source: The Hindu

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