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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 8 October 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Proof for domestication of sheep in Ancient India
  2. Centre releases GST dues of ₹40,000 crore to States
  3. Coal Crisis: Less than 4-days of stock in 64 power plants
  4. New Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh

Proof for domestication of sheep in Ancient India

Context:

Researchers have found that domestication of sheep had taken place in the Indian subcontinent, especially in the Indus Valley civilisation regions in the 6th or 7th millennium BC.

Relevance:

GS-I: History (Indian History – Ancient)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. More about research on domestication of sheep in IVC
  2. Significance: Recently in news – Meat dominance in IVC diet
  3. About Indus Valley Civilization
  4. What is the relevance of Harappa in today’s world?

More about research on domestication of sheep in IVC

  • Researchers at the Central University of Kerala (CUK) found genetic evidence that sheep had been domesticated in the Indus Valley civilisation region in the 6th or 7th millennium BC.
  • This research goes against the general belief that sheep were domesticated then in West Asia alone, and that they had arrived in the Indian subcontinent through migration.
  • Till now genetic diversity and phylogeography of Indian sheep breeds remained poorly understood – however, this study provided strong genetic evidence that the Indian subcontinent was one of the domestication centres of the lineage A sheep.
  • The study found that the Indian sheep haplotypes were unique and highly diverse. The high genetic diversity and statistical analysis suggest that sheep was domesticated in the country.
  • The study proposes that wild Sheep, O. vignei blanfordi in Mehrgarh [Pakistan], may be a potential progenitor of domestic sheep lineage.
  • The study also claims that the introduction of sheep ‘lineage B’ into the Indian subcontinent had been through sea route, and not from the Mongolian plateau, as proposed by researchers in China.

Significance: Recently in news – Meat dominance in IVC diet

  • A recent study finds that the diet of the people of Indus Valley civilisation had a dominance of meat, including extensive eating of beef a on the basis of lipid residue analysis found in pottery from Harappan sites in Haryana.
  • It finds dominance of animal products such as meat of pigs, cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat, as well as dairy products, used in ancient ceramic vessels from rural and urban settlements of Indus Valley civilisation in northwest India – in present-day Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It says that at Harappa, 90% of the cattle were kept alive until they were three or three-and-a-half years, suggesting that females were used for dairying production, whereas male animals were used for traction.
  • There is also evidence of hares and birds being eaten, although little evidence of chicken being a part of the diet.
  • The study also talks of a diversity of plant products and regional variation in cropping practices. Both summer and winter-based cropping was practiced.
  • Evidence of barley, wheat, rice, different varieties of millets, a range of winter and summer pulses, oilseed and fruit and vegetables, including brinjal, cucumber, grapes, date palm were grown and consumed.

About Indus Valley Civilization

  • The history of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), also known as Harappan Civilization which flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia (contemporary Pakistan and Western India).
  • The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China.
  • In 1920s, the Archaeological Department of India carried out excavations in the Indus valley wherein the ruins of the two old cities, viz. Mohenjodaro and Harappa were unearthed.
  • Three phases of IVC are:
    1. the Early Harappan Phase from 3300 to 2600 BCE,
    2. the Mature Harappan Phase from 2600 to 1900 BCE, and
    3. the Late Harappan Phase from 1900 to 1300 BCE.

What is the relevance of Harappa in today’s world?

  • Harappan civilisation is amongst the first major urban civilisation that stretched over an area of 1.5 million square kilometres (the size of a modest sized modern country).
  • It was highly standardised architecture, art and utilitarian items.
  • It traded over an even larger area, getting raw material and exporting (to region where its standardisation rules did not apply) finished products, traders and some of its habits to different regions.
  • The occurrence of the first civilization from which the emergence of the city and urbanism can be understood
  • Their expertise in town planning, water management and harvesting systems as well as drainage mechanism is unparalleled.
  • They had public and private wells at most of their sites and their houses were often equipped with bathing areas and toilets.
  • They were also technologically very advanced in pyrotechnics and metallurgy.
  • Their craftsmanship is evident in their beads, jewelry, pottery, seals as well as other artifacts made of metals and their alloys.
  • Their trade networks were also quite widespread.
  • They had standardized weights and measures.
  • They often used standardized bricks in their architecture.
  • Recent research has suggested that Harappan people were probably the first ones to introduce silk and lost-wax casting techniques.
  • No large-scale weapons have been discovered from the Harappan sites which also suggests that they did not indulge in warfare.
  • It post-dated the great cultures of Mesopotamia and was contemporaneous to Sumerian cultures.
  • However, it received a lot of ideas also from Central Asia and in many ways, it collected the finest of ideas and technologies.
  • Among other things, the Harappan civilization provides important insights into the relationship between civilizational collapse, violence, and disease.
  • Global bodies and governmental organizations seeking to make predictions about global warming in the contemporary context have essentialized the relationship between climate change, environmental migration, and violence.

-Source: The Hindu


Centre releases GST dues of ₹40,000 crore to States

Context:

The Centre released ₹40,000 crore to States and Union Territories to help meet the shortfall in GST compensation cess collections, through back-to-back borrowings from the market.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Fiscal Policy, Taxation)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is GST Compensation Cess?
  2. Issue with GST Compensation Cess
  3. About the latest release of GST dues

What is GST Compensation Cess?

GST was implemented through the GST (101st Amendment Act), 2016 as a long pending indirect tax reform. It is a single tax that replaces multiple other indirect taxes. The Centre lost out on its power to levy taxes such as excise duty, while the States could no longer levy entry tax, VAT etc. To allay the fears of States regarding loss of revenue, following mechanism was made:

GST (Compensation to States) Act, 2017 was enacted under which:

  • The percentage of annual revenue growth of a State has been projected to be 14%. If the annual revenue growth of a State is less than 14%, the State is entitled to receive compensation under the statute.
  • The compensation payable to a State shall be provisionally calculated and released at the end of every two months period.
  • The generation of revenue under the Act would happen through a GST Compensation Cess:
    • The cess comprises the cess levied on sin and luxury goods for five years.
    • The entire cess collected during the year is required to be credited to a non-lapsable Fund (the GST Compensation Cess Fund).
    • The collected compensation cess flows into the CFI and is then transferred to the Public Account of India, where the GST compensation cess fund has been created.

Issue with GST Compensation Cess

The issue arose when payments due for August-September 2019 were delayed. Since then, all subsequent payouts have seen cascading delays. The problem has aggravated and further compounded due to following reasons:

  • Persistent Economic Slowdown: The slowdown has impacted the demand and consumption levels and has thus dented the overall GST collections (both Centre and States).
  • Effect of the Pandemic: The pandemic has given an economic shock to the Indian Economy which has dented the tax collection expectations (including the collections from GST Compensation Cess) of both Centre and States.
  • Estimation of 14% revenue growth unrealistic: The high rate of 14%, which has compounded since 2015- 16, has been seen as delinked from economic realities. In the initial meetings of the GST Council, a revenue growth rate of 10.6% (the average all-India growth rate in the three years preceding 2015-16) was proposed but 14% revenue growth was accepted “in the spirit of compromise”.

As a result of these issues, the stalemate reached at a point where States were looking at the GST shortfall of Rs. 30,000 crore and the Centre being in no position to provide for it.

About the latest release of GST dues

  • The Finance Ministry said that the GST dues of ₹40,000 crore released in October 2021 is a part of the ₹1.59 lakh crore shortfall estimated in the Compensation Fund for States, to be raised via market borrowings.
  • An amount of ₹75,000 crore had already been transferred in July 2021, leaving another ₹44,000 crore to be borrowed and disbursed over the rest of 2021-22.
  • The Finance Ministry indicated that total GST compensation to be paid in 2021-22 may exceed States’ actual dues for the year.
  • This release is in addition to normal GST compensation being released every two months out of actual cess collection, and more than ₹1 lakh crore is also estimated to be released to States during the financial year, based on actual GST cess collections.
  • It is expected that this release will help the States/UTs in planning their public expenditure among other things, for improving, health infrastructure and taking up infrastructure projects.

-Source: The Hindu


Coal Crisis: Less than 4-days of stock in 64 power plants

Context:

Ahead of the festival season, the coal supply crisis seems to be deepening with 64 non-pithead power plants left with less than four days of the dry fuel stocks.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Energy, Mineral and Energy Resources)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the current Coal Crisis in India
  2. Status of Coal production in India.
  3. India’s Coal Imports
  4. Way Forward to manage the coal shortage crisis

About the current Coal Crisis in India

  • The latest report on coal stocks for power plants from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) showed that 25 non-pithead power plants had coal stocks for less than seven days as on October 3 2021.
  • Total coal stocks available at the 135 plants as on October 3 is sufficient only for four days. Among the 135 plants, not even one had 8 or more days of coal stocks.

The main reasons for this Coal shortage crisis

  • Economy recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with supply issues have led to the current coal shortage.
  • India is suffering from the impacts of a sharp surge in electricity demand, a squeeze on domestic mine output and surging prices of seaborne coal. (Coal fired thermal power plants have also supplied a higher proportion of the increase in demand).
  • Lower than normal stock accumulation by thermal power plants in the April-June period and continuous rainfall in coal bearing areas in August and September which led to lower production and fewer despatches of coal from coal mines.
  • A consistent move to lower imports coupled with high international prices of coal have also led to plants cutting imports.

Status of Coal production in India.

  • Overall production of raw coal in India during the year 2018-19 was 730.4 million tonnes (MT) growing at 8.1 percent. This was accompanied by large imports of coal was imported during April 2019 to September 2019 (~126 MT).
  • India’s oil production is one of the lowest among the major economies of the world and has been declining over a period of time.
  • This reduction in production can be attributed to natural decline in ageing and matured fields and no major discoveries. Domestic production of natural gas has been increasing since 2017-18 and is estimated to be 31.8 billion cubic metres (BCM) in 2019-20.

India’s Coal Imports

  • Coal is among the top five commodities imported by India, the world’s largest consumer, importer and producer of the fuel.
  • India imported 51.33 million tonnes of coking coal in 2019, down from 51.63 million tonnes in 2018, the data showed.
  • Import Quantity Of Coal 283%
  • Imports of thermal coal — mainly used for power generation — jumped 12.6% to 197.84 million tonnes in 2019.
  • However, imports of coking coal — used mainly in the manufacturing of steel — fell marginally, following two straight years of increase, government data showed.
  • The government is planning to bring the country’s ‘avoidable coal imports’ to zero by 2023-24.

Way Forward to manage the coal shortage crisis

  1. Government should closely monitor stocks and work with State run Coal India and NTPC to raise output from mines to boost supply.
  2. Rationing domestic power supplies, especially in rural and semi-urban areas, may emerge as one of India’s easiest solutions to reduce dependency on coal.
  3. The same monsoon rains that have flooded coal mines and contributed to the coal shortage are likely to boost hydro-power generation. Large hydro-electric projects on dams are India’s major electricity source after coal and the sector performs at its peak around the rainy season which typically extends from June to October.
  4. Indian power distributors do typically cut supplies to certain areas on a rotational basis when generation is lower than demand, and an extension of load-shedding could likely be considered if power plants take any further hits.
  5. There could be a larger role for natural gas to play, even with global prices currently surging. In a desperate situation, the gas-powered fleet could help prevent any widespread power outages. State-run generator NTPC Ltd., for example, has idle capacity that can be fired up in around 30 minutes if needed and is connected to a gas grid.

-Source: The Hindu


New Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh

Context:

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) approved the Chhattisgarh government’s proposal to declare the combined areas of the Guru Ghasidas National Park and Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary as a Tiger Reserve.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Important Protected Areas, Conservation of Biodiversity)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the New Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh
  2. About Guru Ghasidas National Park
  3. About Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary
  4. About the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

About the New Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh

  • The new Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh is located in the Northern Part of the state, bordering Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
  • This will be the 4th Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh, after Achanakmar, Udanti-Sitanadi, and Indravati Reserves.
  • In 2011, the Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary in Chhattisgarh was identified as part of the Sarguja Jashpur Elephant Reserve.
  • The Guru Ghasidas National Park in the state was earlier the part of the Sanjay National Park in undivided Madhya Pradesh.
  • Both were identified as the reserve forests and had been in line to be declared as the Tiger Reserve since 2011.
  • The wildlife experts and activists in Chhattisgarh believe that turning Guru Ghasidas into a Tiger Reserve is significant because it connects Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand and also provides a corridor for tigers to move between Palamau and Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserves.
  • On the other hand, Bhoramdeo connects the Indravati Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh with Kanha Tiger Reserve in MP. As per the experts, the decision of creating a Tiger Reserve at Guru Ghasidas National Park must not affect the attempts to notify Bhoramdeo as a Tiger Reserve too.

About Guru Ghasidas National Park

  • Guru Ghasidas National Park is situated in the Koriya district while Tamor Pingla is in Surajpur district in the Northwestern Corner of Chhattisgarh.
  • It was the last known habitat of the Asiatic Cheetah and was originally part of the Sanjay Dubri National Park. It was created as a separate entity in Chhattisgarh’s Sarguja region after the state was formed in 2001.
  • The park has undulating topography and it falls under the Tropical climate zone with Tiger, Leopard, Chital, Nilgai, Chinkara, Jackal, Sambar, Four-horned Antelope etc., being the fauna found here.

About Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary

  • The Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Surajpur district of Chhattisgarh bordering Uttar Pradesh. It is named after Tamor hill and Pingla Nalla.
  • Tamor hill and Pingla Nalla are considered to be the old and prominent features of the sanctuary area.
  • Tigers, Elephants, leopards, bears, sambar deer, blue bulls, chital, bison and many such animals are found here.

About the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force, constituted by the Prime Minister of India for reorganised management of Project Tiger and the many Tiger Reserves in India.
  • The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was amended in 2006 to provide for constituting the National Tiger Conservation Authority responsible for implementation of the Project Tiger plan to protect endangered tigers.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority is set up under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests.
  • The Authority will have eight experts or professionals having qualifications and experience in wildlife conservation and welfare of people including tribals, apart from three Members of Parliament of whom two will be elected by the House of the People and one by the Council of States.
  • The Authority, interalia, would lay down normative standards, guidelines for tiger conservation in the Tiger Reserves, apart from National Parks and Sanctuaries.
  • It would provide information on protection measures including future conservation plan, tiger estimation, disease surveillance, mortality survey, patrolling, report on untoward happenings and such other management aspects as it may deem fit, including future plan for conservation.
  • The Authority would also facilitate and support tiger reserve management in the States through eco-development and people’s participation as per approved management plans, and support similar initiatives in adjoining areas consistent with the Central and state laws.
  • The Tiger Conservation Authority would be required to prepare an Annual Report, which would be laid in the Parliament along with the Audit Report.
  • Every 4 years the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) conducts a tiger census across India.

-Source: Indian Express

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