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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 14th March 2022

Today Current Affairs: 14th March 2022 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc


Tapi-Par-Narmada Link Project:

Some tribals have intensified their protest against the Par-Tapi-Narmada river linking project after it was mentioned in the budget speech (2022-23) of the finance minister.

  • These projects had been sanctioned in 2010, when a tripartite agreement was signed between the Union government, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • The Finance Minister in her Budget Speech said that five river linking projects will be taken up after consensus among states.
  • The projects are Damanganga-Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada, Godavari-Krishna, Krishna-Pennar and Pennar-Cauveri.
  • The Ken-Betwa is the first project under the government’s National Perspective Plan for river inter-linking.
  • The National River Linking Project (NRLP) formally known as the National Perspective Plan, envisages the transfer of water from water ‘surplus’ basins where there is flooding, to water ‘deficit’ basins where there is drought/scarcity, through inter-basin water transfer projects.

Par-Tapi-Narmada River Linking Project

  • Par Tapi Narmada Link proposes to transfer water from the water surplus regions of Western Ghats to the water deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch (Gujarat).
  • The link project includes seven reservoirs proposed in north Maharashtra and south Gujarat.
  • The water from the seven proposed reservoirs would be taken through a 395 km long canal to take over a part of the command of the on-going SardarSarovar Project (on Narmada), while irrigating small enroute areas.
  • The seven dams proposed in the scheme are Jheri, Mohankavchali, Paikhed, Chasmandva, Chikkar, Dabdar and Kelwan.
  • This would save SardarSarovar water which will be used to extend irrigation in Saurashtra and Kutch region.
  • The link mainly envisages construction of seven dams, three diversion weirs, two tunnels, 395 km long canal, 6 power houses and a number of cross-drainage works.

Meri Fasal-Mera Byora E-Procurement Portal : By Haryana Government

The Haryana government has launched the Meri Fasal-Mera Byora e-procurement portal. Due to this portal, Haryana has become the first state in India where as many as 14 crops are procured at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

  • These crops include wheat, mustard, barley, gram, paddy, maize, bajra, cotton, sunflower, moong, groundnut, tur, urad and sesame.
  • The portal is the testimony of increasingly adopting digital governance, as a means to improve farming and ensure enhanced income for farmers.
  • The portal was started in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • In less than two years, 8.71 lakh or more than 80% of the total farmers in the state, registered on the portal in the rabi season.
  • The portal seeks to provide an online sale facility, 81 mandis of the state have been linked with the e-NAM (electronic national agriculture market) portal.
  • The eNAM platform offers a pan-India electronic trading portal that networks the existing APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Commodities) mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.

National Youth Parliament Festival 2022:

The 3rd edition of National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF) -2022 was conducted in the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi.

  • National Youth Parliament is an innovative programme to equip youth with the understanding of parliamentary procedures and democratic processes.
  • NYPF is based on the idea given by the Prime Minister in his Mann Ki Baat Address in 2017.
  • Objective: To hear the voice of youth in this age bracket of 18-25 who are allowed to vote but cannot contest in elections.
    • To encourage the youth to engage with public issues, understand the common man’s point of view, form their opinion and express these in an articulate manner.
  • The 1st edition of NYPF was organised in 2019, with the theme “Be the Voice of New India and Find solutions and Contribute to Policy ”.
  • The 2nd edition of NYPF was organized in 2020, with the theme “YUVAAH- Utsah Naye Bharat Ka”
  • All recognised educational institutions of the country are eligible to participate in this programme.
  • Kishore Sabha for the students of Class IX to XII .
  • Tarun Sabha for the students of Under Graduate/ Post Graduate level.
  • The registration for participation will be done by the education institutions through the web-portal.
  • To ensure effective implementation of the scheme, the participating institutions may invite an MP/ex-MP/ MINA/’ Ex-MLA/ MLC/ Ex-MLC or a Person of eminence as the Chief Guest who would oversee the performance of the Youth Parliament sitting of the institution.
  • Organized by: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

What Is One Nation, One Election?

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra has said that the Election Commission is ready to hold simultaneous elections or ‘One Nation, One Election’.

  • Earlier this year, on National Voters’ Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address had raised the topics of ‘One Nation, One Election’ and ‘One Nation, One Voters’ list’, and had said that the continuous cycle of election results is affecting development works.
  • One Nation, One Election refers to holding elections to Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, Panchayats and Urban local bodies simultaneously, once in five year.

Benefits of Simultaneous Elections:

  • The ruling parties will be able to focus on legislation and governance rather than having to be in campaign mode forever.
  • Reduced Expenditure of Money and Administration.
  • Continuity in policies and programmes.
  • Populist measures by governments will reduce.
  • The impact of black money on the voters will be reduced as all elections are held at a time.

What Is Char Dham Highway Development Project?

The Supreme Court has urged its former Justice AK Sikri to take over as the Chairman of the high-powered committee constituted by it to “consider the cumulative and independent impact of the Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana (Char Dham Highway Development Project) on the entire Himalayan valley”.

  • In February 2022, Veteran environmentalist Ravi Chopra has resigned as chairman of the Supreme Court’s High Powered Committee (HPC) on the Char Dham project, saying that his “belief that the HPC could protect this fragile (Himalayan) ecology has been shattered”.
  • In his resignation letter to the secretary general of the Supreme Court on January 27, Chopra referred to the apex court’s December 2021 order that accepted the wider road configuration to meet defence needs, instead of what the HPC had recommended and the SC accepted in its earlier order in September 2020.
  • In 2018, the project was challenged by an NGO for its potential impact on the Himalayan ecology due to felling trees, cutting hills and dumping excavated material.
  • In 2019, the SC formed the HPC Chopra to examine the issues, and in September 2020, accepted his recommendation on road width etc.
  • In November 2020, the ministry of Defence sought wider roads to meet the requirement of the Army.
  • In December 2021, the SC modified its September 2020 order on the ground that the court could not “interrogate the policy choice of the establishment which is entrusted by law with the defence of the nation”.

About Chardham project:

  • The project involves developing and widening nearly 900-km of national highways connecting the holy Hindu pilgrimage sites of; Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri at an estimated cost of Rs.12,000 crores.
  • The highway will be called Char Dham Mahamarg(Char Dham Highway) and the highway construction project will be called Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana(Char Dham Highway Development Project).

Draft National Policy For The Medical Devices:

Department of Pharmaceuticals has released an Approach Paper for the Draft National Policy for the Medical Devices, 2022 for consultation.

  • The Draft policy aims at addressing the core objectives of accessibility, affordability, safety and quality, focus on self-sustainability, innovation and growth in the Medical devices sector.
  • This Policy envisions that by 2047, India
    • will be having few National Institutes of Medical Devices Education and Research (NIMERs) on the lines of NIPERs;
    • will be home & originator to 25 high-end futuristic technologies in MedTech
    • will have a MedTech Industry of $100-300 Bn size with 10-12% of Global Market Share.
  • The Department of Pharmaceuticals published this approach paper for the Sunrise Sector of Medical Devices, popularly called as MedTech Sector.
  • The Sector is expected to grow in market size from the present 11 billion US dollar to 50 billion US dollar by 2025.

Most Favoured Nation Status: Key Points

The World Trade Organization’s 164 members commit to treating other members equally so they can all benefit from each other’s lowest tariffs, highest import quotas and fewest trade barriers for goods and services.

  • This principle of non-discrimination is known as most favoured nation (MFN) treatment.
  • There are some exceptions, such as when members strike bilateral trade agreements or when members offer developing countries special access to their markets.
  • There is no formal procedure for suspending MFN treatment and it is not clear whether members are obliged to inform the WTO if they do so.
  • India suspended Pakistan’s MFN status in 2019 after a suicide attack by a Pakistan-based Islamist group killed 40 police. Pakistan never applied MFN status to India.
  • Revoking Russia’s MFN status sends a strong signal that the United States and its Western allies do not consider Russia a economic partner in any way, but it does not in itself change conditions for trade.
  • It does formally allow the Western allies to increase import tariffs or impose quotas on Russian goods, or even ban them, and to restrict services out of the country.
  • They could also overlook Russian intellectual property rights.

Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) : Key Points

Union Minister for Labour & Employment announced the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) interest rate for the year 2021-2022 after chairing the two-day long meeting of the 230th Central Board of Trustees (CBT) at Guwahati.

  • The return on workers’ retirement savings parked with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has been slashed to 8.1% for 2021-22 from the 8.5% rate credited to members’ accounts in the past two years.
  • The last time the EPF savings were paid an annual return this low was in 1977-78, when the rate was 8%, but that marked the highest EPF rate at the time since the EPFO’s inception in 1952.
  • Since then, the EPF rate has been lower than 8.5% in three years — 1979-80, 1980-81 and 2011-12 — when an 8.25% return was paid on balances.
  • The rate will have to be ratified by the Finance Ministry before it is notified and credited to members’ accounts.
  • The cut in the EPF rate, at a time when inflation is resurging, attracted criticism from the central trade union representatives on the Board who called for the 8.5% return to be retained.

Syllipsimopodi Bideni : Oldest Octopus Fossil

For the roughly 300 known octopus species dwelling in the world’s oceans, having eight arms is a defining characteristic. But that is not the way it started.

  • Scientists said a fossil unearthed in central Montana of a species named Syllipsimopodi bideni represents the oldest-known relative of today’s octopuses and boasts 10 arms, with two being twice as long as the other eight.
  • The fossil, so well preserved that it reveals two parallel rows of suckers up and down each arm, dates to about 328 million years ago.
  • Syllipsimopodi, about 4-3/4 inches (12 cm) long, had a torpedo-shaped body and squid-like appearance though it was not closely related to squids, which appeared much later.
  • It also is the oldest-known creature with suckers, which enable the arms to better grasp prey and other objects.
  • Syllipsimopodi pushes back by 82 million years the origins of a group called vampyropods that includes today’s octopuses.
  • Syllipsimopodi represents the only member of the octopus lineage with 10 arms, meaning two were lost in later evolution.
  • There are numerous similar examples in the history of life on Earth – such as the reduction in the number of digits seen in meat-eating dinosaurs or horses.