Daily Current Affairs : 9th August 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. FRBM Act
  2. Cold and Warm blooded animals
  3. State of Elementary Education in Rural India report
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . FRBM Act

Context: The Finance ministry conveyed its inability to release the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act.

What is FRBM Act?

  • The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM Act), 2003, establishes financial discipline to reduce fiscal deficit

When was the FRBM Act enacted? Who introduced it in India?

  • The FRBM Bill was introduced by the then finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, in 2000. The Bill, approved by the Union Cabinet in 2003, became effective from July 5, 2004.

What are the objectives of the FRBM Act?

  • The FRBM Act aims to introduce transparency in India’s fiscal management systems. The Act’s long-term objective is for India to achieve fiscal stability and to give the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) flexibility to deal with inflation in India. The FRBM Act was enacted to introduce more equitable distribution of India’s debt over the years.

Key features of the FRBM Act

  • The FRBM Act made it mandatory for the government to place the following along with the Union Budget documents in Parliament annually:
    • 1. Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement-
    • 2. Macroeconomic Framework Statement
    • 3. Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement
  • The FRBM Act proposed that revenue deficit, fiscal deficit, tax revenue and the total outstanding liabilities be projected as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in the medium-term fiscal policy statement.

 FRBM Act exemptions

  •  On grounds of national security, calamity, etc, the set targets of fiscal deficits and revenue could be exceeded.

How effective has the FRBM Act been?

  •  Several years have passed since the FRBM Act was enacted, but the Government of India has not been able to achieve targets set under it. The Act has been amended several times.
  • In 2013, the government introduced a change and introduced the concept of effective revenue deficit. This implies that effective revenue deficit would be equal to revenue deficit minus grants to states for the creation of capital assets. In 2016, a committee under N K Singh was set up to suggest changes to the Act. According to the government, the targets set under FRBM Act previously were too rigid.

The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Rules, 2004

  • The FRBM Act, 2003 (as amended), which became effective from July 5, 2004 mandates the Central Government to eliminate revenue deficit by March, 2009 and to reduce fiscal deficit to an amount equivalent to 3 per cent of GDP by March,2008. The annual targets for fiscal correction were to be specified by rules to be framed under the Act.
  • The rules made under FRBM Act specify the annual targets for reduction of fiscal and revenue deficits, annual targets for assuming contingent liabilities in the form of guarantees and the total liabilities as a percentage of GDP.
  • The rules also prescribe the formats for the medium term fiscal policy statement, the fiscal policy strategy statement and the macro-economic framework statement, which are required to be presented to Parliament along with the annual financial statement.
  • Fiscal indicators to be presented in the medium-term fiscal policy statement are also prescribed in the rules.
  • The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Rules, 2004
    • Reduction of revenue deficit by an amount equivalent of 0.5 per cent or more of the GDP at the end of each financial year, beginning with 2004-05.
    • Reduction of fiscal deficit by an amount equivalent of 0.3 per cent or more of the GDP at the end of each financial year, beginning with 2004-05.
    • No assumption of additional liabilities (including external debt at current exchange rate) in excess of 9 per cent of GDP for the financial year 2004-05 and progressive reduction of this limit by at least one percentage point of GDP in each subsequent year.
    • No guarantees in excess of 0.5 per cent of GDP in any financial year, beginning with 2004-05.
    • Specifies four fiscal indicators to be projected in the medium term fiscal policy statement. These are, revenue deficit as a percentage of GDP, fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP, tax revenue as percentage of GDP and total outstanding liabilities as percentage of GDP.
    • For greater transparency in the budgetary process, rules mandate the Central Government to disclose changes, if any, in accounting standards, policies and practices that have a bearing on the fiscal indicators. The Government is also mandated to submit statements of receivables and guarantees and a statement of assets, at the time of presenting the annual financial statement, latest by Budget 2006-07.
    • The rules prescribe the form for the quarterly review of the trends of receipts and expenditures. The rules mandate the Central Government to take appropriate corrective action in case of revenue and fiscal deficits exceeding 45 per cent of the budget estimates, or total non-debt receipts falling short of 40 per cent of the budget estimates at the end of first half of the financial year.

2 . Cool blooded and Warm blooded animals

Context: “The evolution of the skull of dinosaurs to birds has been one of the main focuses in dinosaur palaeontology for a long time,” Seishiro Tada, a researcher at the University of Tokyo and National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan, whose team conducted the study.

Cool blooded and Warm Blooded animals

  • All humans, land mammals, aquatic animals, and birds have different physical characteristics that distinguish them depending on whether they are warm-blooded or cold-blooded animals. Warm-blooded animals are able to regulate their internal temperature according to the external temperature. On the other hand, cold-blooded animals cannot do this, which is why cold-blooded animals cannot survive extreme temperatures. Fish and reptiles are common examples of cold-blooded animals, while mammals are warm-blooded.

Cold-Blooded Animals

  • Animals are unable to regulate their core body temperature in response to changing environments. They often struggle to survive extreme temperature conditions. Examples include reptiles and fish. This applies to all living things except mammals and birds, including earthworms, fish, amphibians and reptiles. The term “cold-blooded animal” refers to an animal whose body temperature is approximately the same as that of its surroundings.
  • Cold-blooded animals cannot heat themselves, so they must move their bodies to maintain their body temperature. Cold-blooded animals become less active when temperatures drop.
  • Examples:- Reptiles, insects, fish, amphibians, etc.

Warm-Blooded Animals

  • Animals that are capable of regulating and maintaining a constant core body temperature are known as warm-blooded animals. Warm-blooded animals can adapt to the harsh conditions of any environment, maintain a constant core body temperature, and survive in any temperature range. Even in winter, warm-blooded animals can be as active as in summer, but they need plenty of food to keep warm. When the cold comes in winter, the body temperature of the birds is very high and it is difficult to get enough food. Examples include birds and mammals, including humans.
  • The skin allows heat to escape from the body. In cold weather, layers of clothing can help people stay warm. Other mammals must rely on a layer of fat or fur to maintain their body temperature and protect themselves from the cold. Mammals with large ears and long tails are not found in very cold regions. To replace the heat lost on this huge area would require a lot of extra food, which is hard to come by.

3 . State of Elementary Education in Rural India report

Context: A pan-India survey of 6,229 parents of schoolchildren aged six to 16 in rural communities across 21 States revealed that more children used smartphones for entertainment rather than for studies, according to the state of Elementary Education in Rural India report

About the report

  • The State of Elementary Education in Rural India report, released by Union Education Minister is based on a survey conducted by the Development Intelligence Unit (DIU), a collaboration between Transform Rural India and Sambodhi Research and Communications.
  • Pan-India survey by the Development Intelligence Unit (DIU) highlights progress in gender-neutral education among rural communities.

What are the key findings of the report?

  • Access to Gadgets- The survey revealed that 49.3% of students in rural India have access to smartphones. However, among parents whose children have access to gadgets, 76.7% said the latter primarily used mobile phones to play video games.
  • Of the students with access to gadgets, 56.6% used the devices for downloading and watching movies, while 47.3% used them to download and listen to music, the survey said. Only 34% use the gadgets for downloading study material, and 18% accessed online learning through tutorials.
  • Of the 6,229 parents surveyed, 6,135 had school-going children, 56 had children who dropped out of school, and 38 had children who had never enrolled in school.
  • At least 78% of the parents of girls and 82% of the parents of boys wanted to educate their children to the level of graduation or above.
  • Students in Class 8 and above had more access to smartphones (58.32%), while students in Classes 1 to 3 also had access (42.1%).
  • Questions on the learning environment at home revealed that 40% of the parents said that age-appropriate reading materials, other than textbooks, are available at home.
  • Parent participation- The survey showed that only 40% of parents have conversations with their children around learning in school every day, while 32% have such conversations with their children a few days a week.
  • The survey also sought to know the reasons for children dropping out of school from a subset of 56 respondents.
  • As much as 36.8% of the parents of girls who had dropped out said it was because they were needed to help out with the family’s earnings.
  • Additionally, 31.6% of parents mentioned their child’s lack of interest in studies, while 21.1% believed that their daughters had to take care of household chores and siblings.
  • For boys, as per the survey, the key reason for dropping out from school was the child’s lack of interest in studies.
  • As much as 71.8% of respondents cited this reason, while another 48.7% said the boys were required to help out in the earnings for the family.
  • On parent participation, the survey revealed that 84% of parents stated that they regularly attend parent-teacher meetings at school.
  • The top two reasons for parents not attending meetings were short notice and a lack of willingness.

4 . Select committee

Context: After at least four MPs complained that their names had been included in a proposed Select Committee for the Delhi Services Bill without their consent, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh announced a probe.

What is a Select Committee?

  • India’s Parliament has several types of committees which discharge different functions. There are 12 Standing Committees that are permanent in nature, with their members nominated from time to time by the Chairman.
  • There are ad hoc or temporary committees, which are set up for a specific purpose, such as examining a particular Bill, and are dissolved once that purpose has been served. A Select Committee belongs to this category. However, while it is temporary in nature, the procedure it is to follow is laid down in the Rules of Procedure.
  • Under Rule 125 of the Rajya Sabha Rules and Procedures, any member may move an amendment that a Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
  • According to the Rajya Sabha rules, “The Select/Joint Committees on Bills are constituted by the House(s) on specific motion moved by the Minister in-charge of the Bill or any member and adopted by the House to consider and report on Bills as referred to them from time to time.” A Joint Committee has members from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • The motion to refer a Bill to a Select Committee can either be moved by the member in-charge of the Bill, or by any other MP.

How are a Select Committee’s members selected?

  • According to the Rajya Sabha rules, “On a motion moved in and adopted by the House, Bills are from time to time referred to Select Committees, the members on which are specifically named in the motion. The members of the Select Committee on a Bill are appointed by the House when the motion that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee is made. No member is appointed to a Select Committee if he is not willing to serve on the Committee. The mover has to ascertain whether the member proposed by him is willing to serve on the Committee.”
  • Thus, while the rules do say that a proposed member’s consent has to be taken before he can serve on a Select Committee, they do not specifically mention collecting signatures of those whose names have been proposed.
  • The actual number of membership of the Select Committee is not fixed; it varies from Committee to Committee. If it is a Joint Committee, the proportion of members from the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha is 1:2. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha from among the members of the Committee.
  • The member or Minister in-charge of the Bill is generally included as a member of the Committee.

How does a Select Committee work?

  • The quorum for each sitting needs to be one-third of the total number of members of the committee. In case of equality of votes on any matter, the chairman (or any other person presiding) will have a second or casting vote.
  • A select committee may appoint a sub-committee to examine any special points connected with the Bill. The report will be signed on behalf of the committee by the chairman. Any member can record dissent. The report, along with notes of dissent, will be presented to the Rajya Sabha, printed and circulated among all members.

What are the functions of Select Committee?

  • The Committee’s job is to go through the text of the Bill, clause by clause, in order to see that the Bill “reflects clearly the intention behind the measure and the object proposed to be achieved is adequately brought out.
  • The Committee may, for this purpose, invite memoranda from or take oral evidence of experts or interested persons and organisations. The Committee may also ask the Government officials to explain the policy behind the various provisions of the Bill and to supply to it such information and background material as may be required by it. After hearing the evidence, the Committee considers the various provisions of the Bill and formulates its conclusions and may amend the clauses, etc. of the Bill to bring about the intention clearly.
  • The Committee may also visit organisations and institutions, etc. for on-the-spot study of a matter connected with the Bill.

What happens once a Select Committee’s report is submitted?

  • The report of the committee is of a recommendatory nature. The government can choose to accept or reject its recommendations. A Select Committee can also include its version of the Bill. If they do so, the minister in charge of that particular Bill can move for the committee’s version of the Bill to be discussed and passed in the House.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Sickle cell disease and G-6 PD deficiency

  • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) converts glucose-6-phosphate into 6-phosphogluconate in the pentose phosphate pathway and protects red blood cells (RBCs) from oxidative damage. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is an X-linked defect that occurs due to mutations in the G6PD genes that cause functional variants with many biochemical and clinical phenotypes. Their deficiency therefore makes RBCs prone to haemolysis.
  • Sickle cell disease (SCD) on the other hand is a hereditary blood disorder in which there is a single nucleotide substitution in the codon for amino acid 6 substituting glutamic acid with valine. SCD patients are prone to haemolysis due to the shape of their red blood cells and if they are deficient in G6PD, the haemolysis may escalate.
  • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency is a genetic disorder that affects red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body. In affected individuals, a defect in an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase causes red blood cells to break down prematurely. This destruction of red blood cells is called hemolysis.
  • The most common medical problem associated with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency is hemolytic anemia, which occurs when red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can replace them. This type of anemia leads to paleness, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), dark urine, fatigue, shortness of breath, and a rapid heart rate.

Economic Community of West African States

  • The Economic Community of West African States also known as CEDEAO in French is a regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa.
  • Considered one of the pillar regional blocs of the continent-wide African Economic Community (AEC), the stated goal of ECOWAS is to achieve “collective self-sufficiency” for its member states by creating a single large trade bloc by building a full economic and trading union.
  • The union was established on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, with its stated mission to promote economic integration across the region. A revised version of the treaty was agreed and signed on 24 July 1993 in Cotonou.
  • ECOWAS has 15 members: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo. Around 400 million people live in this region.
  • ECOWAS also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region, with member states occasionally sending joint military forces to intervene in the bloc’s member countries at times of political instability and unrest.
  • ECOWAS’ larger aims are to have a single common currency and create a single, large trading bloc in areas of industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, financial issues, and social and cultural matters.

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