Contents

  1. New cryptocurrency bill seeks to ban private players
  2. Himalayan glacier changed track 20,000 years ago: study
  3. Railways announces ‘Bharat Gaurav’ scheme
  4. DAC clears AK-203 deal with Russia

New cryptocurrency bill seeks to ban private players

Context:

The Union Government will introduce a Bill to regulate cryptocurrency and ostensibly ban all private cryptocurrencies, along with 25 other pieces of legislation, in the winter session of Parliament that begins on November 2021.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of policies), GS-III: Indian Economy (Banking, Money, Monetary Policy), GS-III: Science and Technology (Developments in Science and Technology, Application of Technology in Daily life, Blockchain technology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are cryptocurrencies?
  2. How are they different from actual currency?
  3. How do cryptocurrencies derive their value?
  4. Highlights of the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021
  5. Other developments regarding ban on cryptocurrencies

What are cryptocurrencies?

  • Cryptocurrencies are e-currencies that are based on decentralized technology and operate on a distributed public ledger called the blockchain.
  • Blockchain records all transactions updated and held by currency holders.
  • The technology allows people to make payments and store money digitally without having to use their names or a financial intermediary such as banks.
  • Cryptocurrency units such as Bitcoin are created through a ‘mining’ process which involves using a computer to solve numerical problems that generate coins.
  • Bitcoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies to be launched and was created in 2009.

How are they different from actual currency?

  • The Main difference is that unlike actual currencies cryptocurrencies are not issued by Governments.
  • Actual money is created or printed by the government which has a monopoly in terms of issuing currency. Central banks across the world issue paper notes and therefore create money and assign paper notes their value.
  • Money created through this process derives its value via government fiat, which is why the paper currency is also called fiat currency.
  • In the case of cryptocurrencies, the process of creating the currency is not monopolized as anyone can create it through the mining process.

How do cryptocurrencies derive their value?

  • Any currency has its value if it can be exchanged for goods or services and if it is a store of value (it can maintain purchasing power over time).
  • Cryptocurrencies, in contrast to fiat currencies, derive their value from exchanges.
  • The extent of involvement of the community in terms of demand and supply of cryptocurrencies helps determine their value.

Highlights of the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021

  • The stated intent of the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 is to create a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The bill will also seek to prohibit all the private cryptocurrencies in India. However, the Crypto bill or Cryptocurrency Bill, 2021 will allow certain exceptions for facilitating the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.
  • The bill could also allow for the use of technologies known as blockchain and distributed ledgers, which underpin the cryptocurrency mechanism but have been used also to create secure records and identity management.

Highlights of the meeting: Reasons for banning Cryptocurrency

  • The meeting which was chaired by PM Modi on the way forward for Cryptocurrency and its uses strongly felt that the attempts of misleading the youth regarding Cryptocurrency must be immediately stopped.
  • The discussion was also held on the unregulated markets of Cryptocurrency that cannot be allowed to become the path for terror financing and money laundering.
  • The meeting on Cryptocurrency was an outcome of a consultative process. Previously, the Finance Ministry of India, Reserve Bank of India, and Home Affairs Ministry had already done an elaborate exercise on it, including the consulted experts from across India and the world.

Other developments regarding ban on cryptocurrencies

  • In October 2021, a note by Fitch Ratings, the exposure of American corporate and financial institutions to cryptocurrencies is predicted to grow – several companies, such as Tesla, have accepted Bitcoin for payments, and plan to resume doing so if concerns over their environmental impacts are addressed.
  • On September 2021, China banned cryptocurrencies and rolled out its own digital currency, known as the e-CNY.
  • A Fitch report on CBDCs from May 2021 said such digital currencies have the potential to boost cashless payments and wider digitalisation of economies. “For central banks in some emerging markets, a key driver for researching CBDCs is the opportunity to bring underbanked communities into the financial system, and improve the cost, speed and resilience of payments.”
  • While cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin offer anonymity of the nature of cash bills and draw their value from its demand and supply, they do not carry any sovereign guarantees making collapses in value immitigable. On the other hand, CBDCs do not carry such risks but they do not offer the anonymity of cash.
  • Additionally, experts have raised concerns over the impact on banking institutions that currently act as intermediaries in the financial system.

-Source: The Hindu


Himalayan glacier changed track 20,000 years ago: study

Context:

Nearly 20,000 years ago, a 5-km-long Himalayan glacier “abruptly” changed course and over time fused into an adjacent glacier in present day Pittoragarh, Uttarakhand.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Physical Geography, Distribution of Key Natural Resources, Water Resources, Important Geophysical Phenomena), GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Climate change and its impact)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a Glacier?
  2. About the Himalayan glacier that changed track
  3. Important Glaciers in India

What is a Glacier?

  • A glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. It is form by the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation (melting and sublimation) over many years. It is the largest reservoir of fresh water on the Earth (75 percent of the world’s fresh water).
  • Glaciers are unique because they are reservoir of fresh water, have sheer mass and their ability to move (Glaciers flow like very slow rivers). It may move in two ways- Internal flow is when the pressure and gravity on the ice in a glacier cause it to move downhill; Basal sliding is when an entire glacier moves because its base is slightly melted. Rivers, valleys and lakes are formed after melting of glaciers.
  • As per National Snow & Ice Date Centre, it occupies about 10 percent of the world’s total area.

About the Himalayan glacier that changed track

  • A Himalayan glacier changed course and over time fused into an adjacent glacier, and this is the first time that such a turn in glacier’s course has been recorded in the Himalayas.
  • Change in climate along with tectonic movement probably caused this to happen.
  • The study adds to evidence of the inherent instability of the Himalayan region, among the youngest mountain ranges in the world due to which the underlying tectonic plates that support it are not stable but are jittery and frequently trigger earthquakes and landslides.
  • The event had “similarities” to the February disaster in Rishiganga valley, Uttarakhand, in which a large mass of rock and debris detached from a glacier and hurtled down the Rishiganga river.

Important Glaciers in India

Name StateMountain Range
Batura GlacierJammu & KashmirKarakoram Mountain Range
Khurdopin GlacierJammu & KashmirKarakoram Mountain Range
Hispar GlacierJammu & KashmirKarakoram Mountain Range
Biafo GlacierJammu & KashmirKarakoram Mountain Range
Baltoro GlacierJammu & KashmirKarakoram Mountain Range
Chomolungma glacierJammu & KashmirKarakoram Mountain Range
Diamir GlacierJammu & KashmirKarakoram Mountain Range
Siachen GlacierJammu & KashmirKarakoram Mountain Range
Gangotri GlacierUttarkashi, UttarakhandHimalayas
Milam GlacierUttarakhandTrishul peak of  Pithoragarh
Pindari glacierNanda Devi, UttarakhandUpper reaches of the Kumaon Himalayas
Zemu GlacierSikkimEastern Himalaya Located on Kanchenjunga peak

-Source: The Hindu


Railways announces ‘Bharat Gaurav’ scheme

Context:

To tap the huge potential of tourism, the Indian Railways announced the ‘Bharat Gaurav’ scheme, under which theme-based tourist circuit trains, on the lines of the Ramayana Express, can be run either by private or State-owned operators.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Bharat Gaurav scheme

About the Bharat Gaurav scheme

  • Indian Railways will be launching a completely new segment- Bharat Gaurav trains to boost tourism across India and the Indian Railways has allocated over 180 trains identified 3033 coaches for ‘Bharat Gaurav’ trains.
  • All the concerned stakeholders will modify and run the trains and help railways in maintenance, parking and other facilities.
  • The main objective behind launching Bharat Gaurav trains is to boost tourism. This is the third segment of trains after passenger and freight segments.
  • Bharat Gaurav trains will be run by both the private sector and IRCTC. The tour operators can decide the rates of the trains as well.
  • The Bharat Gaurav trains will be theme-based to showcase the country’s culture and heritage.
  • The idea of Bharat Gaurav trains originated from PM Narendra Modi who suggested theme-based trains to enable people to understand, appreciate and take forward India’s heritage.

-Source: The Hindu


DAC clears AK-203 deal with Russia

Context:

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the long-pending deal for the manufacture of 6.71 lakh AK-203 assault rifles in India, according to a defence source.

Relevance:

GS-III: Internal Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)
  2. About the AK-203 assault rifles deal

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)

  • As an overarching structure, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), under the Defence Minister is constituted for overall guidance of the defence procurement planning process.
  • DAC is the highest decision-making body in the Defence Ministry for deciding on new policies and capital acquisitions for the three services (Army, Navy and Air Force) and the Indian Coast Guard.
  • The objective of the Defence Acquisition Council is to ensure expeditious procurement of the approved requirements of the Armed Forces in terms of capabilities sought, and time frame prescribed, by optimally utilizing the allocated budgetary resources.
  • It was formed, after the Group of Ministers recommendations on ‘Reforming the National Security System’, in 2001, post Kargil War (1999).
  • Composition of Defence Acquisition Council:
    1. Defence Minister: Chairman
    2. Minister of State for Defence: Member
    3. Chief of Army Staff: Member
    4. Chief of Naval Staff: Member
    5. Chief of Air Staff: Member
    6. Defence Secretary: Member
    7. Secretary Defence Research & Development: Member
    8. Secretary Defence Production: Member
    9. Chief of Integrated Staff Committees HQ IDS: Member
    10. Director General (Acquisition): Member
    11. Dy. Chief of Integrated Defence: Staff Member Secretary

About the AK-203 assault rifles deal

  • The AK-203 assault rifle is a Russian designed rifle and it will be manufactured in India in a factory in Amethi.
  • AK-203 assault rifles are the latest version of the AK-47 rifle. These rifles will replace the 5.56×45mm Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles that are being used by the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force currently.
  • India and Russia had begun talks to jointly manufacture AK-203 assault rifles in India way back in 2018 but the deal for the same had been pending.
  • India is planning to make the AK-203 Assault Rifles a mainstay for the armed forces.
  • Among the 7.5 lakh assault rifles to be acquired by India, the first 70,000 rifles will include Russian-made components as the transfer of technology takes place slowly.
  • The initial batch of assault rifles is expected to be delivered to the Indian Army 32 months after the production process begins.

-Source: The Hindu

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