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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 2nd February 2022

Today Current Affairs: 2nd February 2022 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc


World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day:

Neglected tropical disease day is observed every year on 30th January. It was declared in the 74th World Health Assembly (2021).

  • The proposal to recognise the day was floated by the United Arab Emirates.
  • It was adopted unanimously by the delegates.
  • The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs):

  • NTDs are a group of infections that are most common among marginalized communities in the developing regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas.
  • They are caused by a variety of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasitic worms.
  • NTDs are especially common in tropical areas where people do not have access to clean water or safe ways to dispose of human waste.
  • These diseases generally receive less funding for research and treatment than malaises like tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS and malaria.
  • Examples of NTDs are: snakebite envenomation, scabies, yaws, trachoma, Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease etc.
  • World NTD Day commemorates the simultaneous launch of the first NTD road map (2012-2020) and the London Declaration on NTDs on 30th January 2012.
  • London Declaration on NTDs: It was adopted on 30th January, 2012 to recognise the global burden of NTDs.
  • Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, representatives from leading global pharmaceutical companies as well as representatives of several national governments met at London’s Royal College of physicians to pledge to end the diseases.

National Commission For Women (NCW):

The 30th Foundation Day (31st January) of the National Commission for Women (NCW) was celebrated.

  • According to the Prime Minister, given the evolving needs of women in the country, the scope of NCW must be broadened.
  • The Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) recommended nearly five decades ago, the setting up of a NCW to fulfil the surveillance functions to facilitate redressal of grievances and to accelerate the socio-economic development of women.
  • Successive Committees/Commissions/Plans including the National Perspective Plan for Women (1988-2000) recommended the constitution of an apex body for women.
  • Under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990, the NCW was set up as a statutory body in January 1992.
  • The First Commission was constituted on 31st January 1992 with Mrs. Jayanti Patnaik as the Chairperson.
  • The commission consists of a chairperson, a member secretary and five other members. The chairperson of the NCW is nominated by the Central Government.
  • Its mission is to strive towards enabling women to achieve equality and equal participation in all spheres of life by securing her due rights and entitlements through suitable policy formulation, legislative measures, etc.
  • Its functions are to:
    • Review the constitutional and legal safeguards for women.
    • Recommend remedial legislative measures.
    • Facilitate redressal of grievances.
    • Advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
  • It has received a large number of complaints and acted suo-moto in several cases to provide speedy justice.
  • It took up the issue of child marriage, sponsored legal awareness programmes, Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats and reviewed laws such as:
    • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961,
    • Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act 1994,
    • Indian Penal Code 1860.

Reverse Repo Normalisation In India:

In a recent report, State Bank of India has stated that it believes the stage is set for a Reverse Repo Normalisation in India.

  • The Repurchase agreement (Repo) and the Reverse repo agreement are two key tools used by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to control the money supply.
  • The tools used by the Central bank to control money supply can be quantitative or qualitative.
  • Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank of a country (RBI in case of India) lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Here, the central bank purchases the security.
  • The reverse repo is the interest rate that the RBI pays to the commercial banks when they park their excess “liquidity” (money) with the RBI. The reverse repo, thus, is the exact opposite of the repo rate.
  • Under normal circumstances, that is when the economy is growing at a healthy pace, the repo rate becomes the benchmark interest rate in the economy.
  • That’s because it is the lowest rate of interest at which funds can be borrowed. As such, the repo rate forms the floor interest rate for all other interest rates in the economy – be it the rate for a car loan or a home loan or the interest earned on fixed deposit etc.
  • When the RBI pumps more and more liquidity into the market but there are no takers of fresh loans — either because the banks are unwilling to lend or because there is no genuine demand for new loans in the economy.
  • In such a scenario, the action shifts from repo rate to reverse repo rate because banks are no longer interested in borrowing money from the RBI.
  • Rather they are more interested in parking their excess liquidity with the RBI. And that is how the reverse repo becomes the actual benchmark interest rate in the economy.

Reverse Repo Normalisation

  • It means the reverse repo rates will go up i.e. raising the reverse repo rate in one or two stages.
  • In the face of rising inflation, several central banks across the world have either increased interest rates or signalled that they would do so soon.
  • In India, too, it is expected that the RBI will raise the repo rate. But before that, it is expected that the RBI will raise the reverse repo rate and reduce the gap between the two rates.
  • The process of normalisation is mainly aimed at curbing inflation.
  • However, it will not only reduce excess liquidity but also result in higher interest rates across the board in the Indian economy.
  • Thus reducing the demand for money among consumers (since it would make more sense to just keep the money in the bank) and making it costlier for businesses to borrow fresh loans.

Monetary Policy Normalisation:

  • The RBI keeps changing the total amount of money in the economy to ensure smooth functioning. As such, when the RBI wants to boost economic activity it adopts a so-called “loose monetary policy”.
  • There are two parts to such a policy:
    • Injecting Liquidity in the Economy: It does so by buying government bonds from the market. As the RBI buys these bonds, it pays back money to the bondholders, thus injecting more money into the economy.
    • Lowering Interest Rate: Two, the RBI also lowers the interest rate it charges banks when it lends money to them; this rate is called the repo rate.
    • By lowering the interest rate at which it lends money to commercial banks, the RBI hopes that the commercial banks (and the rest of the banking system), in turn, will feel incentivised to lower interest rates.
    • Lower interest rates and more liquidity, together, are expected to boost both consumption and production in the economy.
    • For a consumer, it would now pay less to keep the money in the bank — thus it incentivises current consumption. For firms and entrepreneurs, it would make more sense to borrow money to start a new enterprise because interest rates are lower.
    • The reverse of a loose monetary policy is a “tight monetary policy” and it involves the RBI raising interest rates and sucking liquidity out of the economy by selling bonds (and taking money out of the system).
    • When any central bank finds that a loose monetary policy has started becoming counterproductive (for example, when it leads to a higher inflation rate), the central bank “normalises the policy” by tightening the monetary policy stance.

Union Budget 2022 Highlights:

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2022 on February 1.

  • She said that the Budget proposals for this financial year rest on health and well-being, infrastructure, inclusive development, energy transition and climate action, financing of investments and ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’. India’s economic growth estimated at 9.2% to be the highest among all large economies.
  • 60 lakh new jobs to be created under the productivity linked incentive scheme in 14 sectors.
  • Significant announcements include digital currency, e-passports and a slew of infrastructure projects.
  • Edible oil, wearable electronics, imitation jewellery, polished diamond are to be cheaper. Fiscal deficit is 6.9% of GDP.
  • Tax relief announced to persons with disabilities.
  • No change in personal income tax rates.
  • Infrastructure: PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan at a cost of ₹20,000 crore
  • National Highways network to be expanded by 25,000 kms in 2022-23.
  • National Master Plan on Expressways will be formulated in 2022-23
  • 400 new generation Vande Bharat trains to be manufactured in next 3 years.
  • 60 km of ropeway projects under the Parvat Mala project
  • Metro systems, muti-model connectivity
  • 100 Gati Shakti cargo terminals in the next 3 years.
  • Agriculture: Procurement of wheat, paddy, kharif and rabi crops, benefiting over 1 crore farmers.
  • NABARD to facilitate fund with blended capital to finance startups for agriculture & rural enterprise.
  • ₹2.37 lakh crore towards direct payments for minimum support price.
  • Chemical-free, natural farming to be promoted across the country.
  • 2022 to be Year of Millet – support for post-harvest value addition for millet products
  • Using Kisan drones for crop assessment and spraying of pesticides
  • Ken-Betwa river linking project at a cost of Rs 44,000 crore, to benefit 9.0 lakh hectare of farmer land
  • Education: Digital University will be established, and to be made in different Indian languages, based on networked hub model.
  • One Class, One TV channel will be expanded from 12 to 200 TV Channels to provide supplementary education in all regional languages, to make up for loss of formal education due to Covid.
  • Defence: 68% capital procurement budget earmarked for domestic procurement.
  • Defence R&D to be opened up for start ups, private industry and academia. 25% of R&D budget to be set aside for this.
  • Private industry will be encouraged to take up design and development of military platforms and equipment.
  • Developments on the digital front :RBI to introduce ‘digital rupee’ using blockchain technology in 2022-23.
  • Virtual digital assets to be taxed at 30%.
  • Gift of virtual assets will be taxed at the receiver’s end.
  • 75 digital banking units to be set up across 75 districts.
  • Tax, economy and finance: Green bonds will be issued for upping green infrastructure.
  • Fiscal deficit is 6.9% of GDP.
  • Taxpayers can file within 2 years an updated return if there is any anomaly in their filing.
  • Cooperative societies pay 18.5% alternate minimum tax and companies pay 15%. From now cooperative too will have to pay only 15%.
  • Surcharge has also been reduced to 7% for those cooperative having income 1 to 10 crores.
  • Tax relief to persons with disabilities.
  • Tax deduction limit for NPS account of state govt employees to 14%.
  • Virtual digital assets will be brought under tax regime.
  • Long term capital gains surcharge will be capped at 15%.
  • Custom duty on cut and polished diamond reduced to 5%.
  • Custom duty on imitation duty slashed.
  • Duty on Sodium cyanide increased.
  • Duty on umbrellas raised to 20%.
  • Steel scrap duty extended for another year.
  • Anti-dumping on stainless steel is being revoked.
  • Duty reduced on shrimp aquaculture.
  • Health and Sanitation :National Digital Health Ecosystem to be rolled out.
  • National Tele Mental Health program to be set up to focus on mental health.
  • 23 tele mental health centres of excellence.
  • Integrated benefits to women and children through Mission Shakti, Mission Vatsalya, Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0.
  • Rs. 60,000 crore allocated to cover 3.8 crore households in 2022-23 under Har Ghar, Nal se Jal.

Economic Survey 2021-22: Highlights

The Economic Survey 2021-22 was tabled in Parliament by the Finance Minister soon after the President’s address to both Houses of Parliament.

  • The central theme of this year’s Economic Survey is the “Agile approach”, implemented through India’s economic response to the COVID-19 Pandemic shock.
  • The preface of Economic Survey states that the “Agile approach” is based on feed-back loops, real-time monitoring of actual outcomes, flexible responses, safety-net buffers and so on.
  • The Economic Survey 2021-22 argues that some form of feedback loop based policy-making was always possible, but the “Agile framework: is particularly relevant today because of the explosion of real-time data that allows for constant monitoring.
  • Such information includes GST collections, digital payments, satellite photographs, electricity production, cargo movements, internal/external trade, infrastructure roll-out, delivery of various schemes, mobility indicators, to name just a few.
  • Another theme highlighted in this Economic Survey relates to the art and science of policy-making under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
  • The Preface also takes a bird’s eye view of the “great deal of evolution” of the Economic Surveys presented since the first Survey in 1950-51.
  • This year’s survey uses various examples to highlight the use of satellite and geospatial data to reflect the infrastructural growth in the country.
  • India’s GDP is projected to grow in real terms by 8.0-8.5 percent in 2022-23.
  • The economy is expected to grow at 9.2 percent in the current fiscal.
  • The Indian economy, as seen in quarterly estimates of GDP, has been staging a sustained recovery since the second half of 2020-21.
  • Although the second wave of the pandemic in April-June 2021 was more severe from a health perspective, the economic impact was muted compared to the national lockdown of the previous year.
  • As per the survey, the growth in 2022-23 will be supported by widespread vaccine coverage, gains from supply-side reforms and easing of regulations, robust export growth and availability of fiscal space to ramp up capital spending.
  • The agricultural sector was the least impacted by the pandemic. It is estimated to grow 3.9 percent in 2021-22 on top of 3.6 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, in the previous two years.
  • The industrial sector went through a big swing by first contracting by 7 percent in 2020-21 and then expanding by 11.8 percent in this financial year.
  • Overall, the sector is estimated to grow by 8.2 percent in 2021-22.
  • Imports are expected to grow by 29.4 per cent in 2021-22, surpassing corresponding pre-pandemic levels.
  • Startups in India have grown remarkably over the last six years. India has now become the third largest startup ecosystem in the world after the US and China.
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is currently the single largest retail payment system in the country in terms of volume of transactions, with 4.6 billion transactions worth Rs 8.26 lakh crore carried out in December 2021.
  • The top five sectors which capture around 83 percent of the aggregate pipeline value include: Roads (27 percent) followed by Railways (25 percent), Power (15 percent), oil & gas pipelines (8 percent) and Telecom (6 percent).
  • The Economic Survey has highlighted that privatisation of Air India has been particularly important for boosting the privatisation drive and garnering disinvestment proceeds.
  • The primary markets has seen a boom in fundraising through IPOs by many new age companies in the year 2021-22 so far. Rs 89,066 crore was raised via 75 IPO issued in April-November 2021.
  • As per the Economic Survey 2022, climate finance will remain critical to successful climate action for India to achieve its Net Zero Carbon Emission target by 2070.