Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE : 4th January 2022

Daily Current Affairs

Topics Covered

  1. GST Compensation
  2. Non Proliferation Treaty
  3. Offline Digital Payment
  4. Draft National Air sports Policy
  5. Facts for Prelims

1 . GST Compensation

Context : Just a day ahead of the 46th meeting of the GST Council on December 31, the Finance Ministers of several States had a pre-Budget interaction with the Union Finance Minister and demanded that the GST compensation scheme be extended beyond June 2022, when it is set to expire.

What is the GST compensation?

  • The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016, was the law which created the mechanism for levying a common nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST). The adoption of GST was made possible by States ceding almost all their powers to impose local-level indirect taxes and agreeing to let the prevailing multiplicity of imposts be subsumed into the GST.
  • While States would receive the SGST (State GST) component of the GST, and a share of the IGST (integrated GST), it was agreed that revenue shortfalls arising from the transition to the new indirect taxes regime would be made good from a pooled GST Compensation Fund for a period of five years that is currently set to end in June 2022.
  • This corpus in turn is funded through a compensation cess that is levied on so-called ‘demerit’ goods. The computation of the shortfall is done annually by projecting a revenue assumption based on 14% compounded growth from the base year’s (2015-2016) revenue and calculating the difference between that figure and the actual GST collections in that year.

Why are several States seeking an extension of the GST compensation sunset timeline?

  • With the finances of most States having been severely hit in the wake of the pandemic and the economic slowdown that had preceded the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, the State governments have been hard pressed to find ways to garner the resources to meet the essential and additional spending necessitated by the public health crisis.

Can the deadline be extended? If so, how?

  • The deadline for GST compensation was set in the original legislation and so in order to extend it, the GST Council must first recommend it and the Union government must then move an amendment to the GST law allowing for a new date beyond the June 2022 deadline at which the GST compensation scheme will come to a close.
  • Interestingly, even now the compensation cess will continue to be levied well beyond the current fiscal year since the borrowings made in lieu of the shortfalls in the compensation fund would need to be met. In September, the GST Council decided to extend the compensation cess period till March 2026 “purely to repay the back-to-back loans taken between 2020-21 and 2021-22”.

2 . Non Proliferation Treaty

Context : Five global nuclear powers pledged on Monday to prevent atomic weapons spreading and to avoid nuclear conflict, in a rare joint statement ahead of a review of a key nuclear treaty later this year. The statement was issued after the latest review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) — which first came into force in 1970 — was postponed from its scheduled date of January 4 to later in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details of the statement

  • The five world powers said they saw “the avoidance of war between nuclear-weapon states and the reduction of strategic risks as foremost responsibilities.” “As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons — for as long as they continue to exist — should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war,” they said according to the text released by the White House.
  • They added: “We each intend to maintain and further strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorised or unintended use of nuclear weapons.”
  • “We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented,” said permanent UN Security Council members China, France, Russia, the U.K. and U.S., adding: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

About Non Proliferation Treaty

  • The NPT is a multilateral treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons including three elements:
    • Non-proliferation
    • Disarmament
    • Peaceful use of nuclear energy.
  • These elements constitute a “grand bargain” between the five nuclear weapon states and the non-nuclear weapon states.
    • States without nuclear weapons will not acquire them;
    • States with nuclear weapons will pursue disarmament;
    • All states can access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, under safeguards.
Nuclear & Non-Nuclear Weapon States
  • (Article IX): The Treaty defines nuclear weapon states (NWS) as those that had manufactured and detonated a nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967. All the other states are therefore considered non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS).
  • The five nuclear weapon states are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • (Articles I, II, III): Nuclear weapon states are not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons and not to assist, encourage, or induce any NNWS to manufacture or otherwise acquire them. 
  • Non-nuclear weapons states are not to receive nuclear weapons from any transferor, and are not to manufacture or acquire them.
  • NNWS must accept the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all nuclear materials on their territories or under their control.
  • (Articles VI): All Parties must pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
Peaceful Use
  • (Article IV): The Treaty does not affect the right of state parties to develop, produce, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, provided such activities are in conformity with Articles I and II.
  • All state parties undertake to facilitate, and have a right to participate, in the exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Verification and Compliance

  • The IAEA verifies NNWS compliance with commitments under the NPT not to acquire nuclear weapons.
  • Article III requires NNWS to conclude agreements with the IAEA to safeguard all nuclear materials in all peaceful nuclear activities. Negotiation of such an agreement should begin immediately after the NNWS’ accession to the NPT and enter into force within 18 months.
  • In case of non-compliance with IAEA safeguards, the IAEA Board of Governors (BOG) calls upon the state to remedy the situation and reports the non-compliance to the UN Security Council (UNSC) and UN General Assembly (UNGA).
  • The BOG may also impose specific penalties, such as curtailment or suspension of assistance, return of materials, or suspension of privileges and rights. The UNSC may impose sanctions and approve other measures.
  • The IAEA BOG has found six states in non-compliance with their safeguards agreements: Iraq, Romania, North Korea, Libya, Iran, and Syria. There are no verification provisions for nuclear disarmament commitments under the NPT.

Non Signatory Countries

  • With its near-universal membership, the NPT has the widest adherence of any arms control agreement, with only South Sudan, India, Israel, and Pakistan remaining outside the treaty.
  • In order to accede to the treaty, these states must do so as NNWS, since the treaty restricts NWS status to nations that “manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967.”
  • For India, Israel, and Pakistan, all known to possess or suspected of having nuclear weapons, joining the treaty as NNWS would require that they dismantle their nuclear weapons and place their nuclear materials under international safeguards. South Africa followed this path to accession in 1991.
  • North Korea joined the NPT in 1985, but withdrew in 2003.

3 . Offline Digital Payment

Context : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come out with the framework for facilitating small-value digital payments in offline mode, a move that would promote digital payments in semi-urban and rural areas.


  • Reserve Bank has placed on its website the ‘Framework for facilitating small value digital payments in offline mode’. The framework incorporates the feedback received from the pilot experiments on offline transactions conducted in different parts of the country during the period from September 2020 to June 2021.

About Offline Transaction

  • An offline digital payment means a transaction which does not require internet or telecom connectivity.
  • Under this new framework, such payments can be carried out face-to-face (proximity mode) using any channel or instrument like cards, wallets, mobile devices, etc. Such transactions would not require an Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA).
  • Since the transactions are offline, alerts (by way of SMS and / or e-mail) will be received by the customer after a time lag.
  • Transactions are subject to a limit of ₹200 per transaction and an overall limit of ₹2000 for all transactions until balance in the account is replenished. Balance replenishment can only occur in an on-line mode.
  • Offline mode of payment can be enabled only after obtaining specific consent of the customer. Customers shall enjoy protection under the provisions of circulars limiting customer liability issued by Reserve Bank (as amended from time to time).


  • Offline transactions are expected to give a push to digital transactions in areas with poor or weak internet or telecom connectivity, particularly in semi-urban and rural areas. The new framework is applicable with immediate effect.

4 . Draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP)

Context : Ministry of Civil Aviation has released draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP) for public feedback.


  • India has the potential to be among the leading nations in the world of air sports. It has a growing culture for adventure sports and aviation.
  • Other than the direct revenue from air sports activities, the multiplier benefits in terms of growth of travel, tourism, infrastructure and local employment, especially in hilly areas of the country, are several times greater. Creation of air sports hubs across the country will also bring in air sports professionals and tourists from across the world.
  • The Government of India therefore plans to promote the country’s air sports sector, by way of making it safe, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and sustainable. Systems and processes need to be simplified and made more transparent; focus on quality, safety and security needs to be enhanced; and investments in infrastructure, technology, training and awareness building need to be facilitated
  • The draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP 2022) is a step in this direction. It has been drafted on the basis of the inputs received from policy makers, air sports practitioners and public at  large.  It  is  an  evolving  document and will be modified from time to time.

The key features of the Draft National Air Sports Policy are:

  • NASP 2022 covers sports like aerobatics, aeromodelling, amateur-built and experimental aircraft, ballooning, drones, gliding, hang gliding and paragliding; microlighting and paramotoring; skydiving and vintage aircraft.
  • The vision is to make India one of the top air sports nations by 2030. The mission is to provide a safe, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and sustainable air sports ecosystem in India.
  • NASP 2022 seeks to leverage India’s huge potential for air sports given its large geographical expanse, diverse topography and fair weather conditions. 
  • An Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI) will be established as the apex governing body.  Associations for each air sport will handle day to day activities e.g. Paragliding Association of India or Skydiving Association of India etc.
  • The air sports associations shall be accountable to ASFI with respect to the regulatory oversight and for providing safe, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and sustainable conduct of their respective air sport.
  • ASFI shall represent India at FAI and other global platforms related to air sports. Greater participation and success of Indian sportspersons in global air sports events will be facilitated.
  • Domestic design, development and manufacturing of air sports equipment will be promoted in line with the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
  • The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland is the world governing body for air sports.  All competitions in India will be conducted as per the guidelines laid down by FAI.
  • Air sports by their very nature involve a higher level of risk than flying a regular aircraft. NASP 2022 places strong focus on ensuring international best practices in safety.
  • Inability to enforce safety standards by an air sports association may lead to penal action by the ASFI against such association including financial penalties, suspension or dismissal.
  • All persons and entities providing air sports services shall be required to register as members of the respective air sports associations. Key equipment used for air sports shall be registered with the respective air sports association, till such equipment is decommissioned, damaged beyond repair or lost.
  • An airspace map of India has been published on DGCA’s DigitalSky Platform. The map segregates the entire airspace of India into red zone, yellow zone and green zone.  Air sports practitioners may rely on this easily accessible map for guidance. Operation in red and yellow zones requires permission from Central Government and the concerned Air Traffic Control authority respectively.  Operation in green zones for aircraft with all-up weight up to 500 kg does not require any permission. 
  • For air sports centred around a fixed location – for instance, Bir-Billing in Himachal Pradesh, Gangtok in Sikkim, Hadapsar in Maharashtra or Vagamon in Kerala – the said location can be declared as a ‘Control zone’ for air sports with necessary permissions from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Defence (MoD), State Government and the local Air Traffic Control authority. This will enable hassle-free flying by air sports enthusiasts in such control zones without creating any risk to national security or safety of other manned aircraft.
  • During peak winters, the level of air sports reduces in Europe and North America and the air sports aficionados migrate to milder climates.  ASFI and the air sports associations will work towards developing a hassle-free process to enable their movement to India.  This will enable Indian air sports enthusiasts to learn from the experience of the visiting professionals, get exposed to global best practices and create opportunities to host global competitions in India.
  • The Government will consider allowing import of air sports equipment without any import duty for a particular number of years.  Import of previously used air sports equipment may also be allowed free import, subject to laid down norms of airworthiness. 
  • Schools, colleges and universities will be encouraged to have air sports included in their curriculum. 
  • Long term funding for development of air sports in India shall come from corporate investors, sponsors, membership fees, events and media rights.  ASFI may seek financial support from Government of India for promotion of air sports, especially in the initial years. 
  • To make air sports affordable to the common public, the Government will request the GST Council to consider rationalising the GST rate on air sports equipment to 5% or less.

5 . Facts for Prelims


  • ISRO will be launching another space science mission, called X-ray Polarimetry Satellite (XPoSat), onboard a PSLV .
  • XPoSat will be a specialised science mission that will study the polarisation of X-rays in space. How radiation is polarised gives away the nature of its source, including the strength and distribution of its magnetic fields and the nature of other radiation around it.
  • To this day, the Crab Nebula remains the only X-ray source for which scientists have measured the polarisation. XPoSat is expected to provide the same information about the 50 brightest known sources in the universe, including pulsars, X-ray binary stars and galactic cores.
  • XPoSat’s polarimeter instrument, which works in the medium X-ray region (8-30 keV), is being built and tested by scientists at the Raman Research Institute. It is delightful to have Indian space missions fill humanity’s gaps in its knowledge of astrophysics.
  • XPoSat will be placed in a low-Earth orbit.

Stability’ and ‘shelf life’ of a vaccine

  • Stability
    • Vaccines are complex mixtures of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, inactivated virus, or adjuvants —which are substances that are intended to enhance immune response and subsequent clinical efficacy of the vaccine. These together contribute to overall vaccine efficacy and safety.
    • Like other medicinal products, vaccines come with a date of expiry and shelf life determined by the manufacturer and approved by regulatory authorities. The constituents of a vaccine can go bad over time because of slow chemical reactions and lose efficacy.
    • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stability is the ability of a vaccine to retain its chemical, physical, microbiological and biological properties within specified limits throughout its shelf life.
    • A series of tests are designed to obtain information on the stability of a vaccine in order to define its shelf life and utilisation period under specified packaging and storage conditions. And depending on the nature of the antigen and other components, and the manufacturing process, stability parameters are selected on a case-by-case basis, the WHO guidelines state.
    • There are three specific objectives of stability studies, which differ throughout a vaccine’s lifetime. First, it is conducted to determine shelf life and storage conditions. Second, the stability studies, monitor vaccine stability in the post-licensure period, that is, when the vaccine is marketed commercially. Third, according to the WHO guidelines, stability studies are conducted to support manufacturing changes by demonstrating comparability of product manufactured by different processes.
  • Shelf Life
    • Shelf life is calculated by storing the product at different temperatures for various lengths of time and then testing its effectiveness. By storing the particular product at various temperatures, and then periodically checking if there is any degradation of the product, an expiry date is arrived at.
    • The duration over which the product is stable and effective in the specified conditions is considered its shelf life. There are various biochemical ways in which the degradation can be estimated
    • According to the WHO guidelines, the shelf life of a vaccine is the period of time during which the vaccine, if stored correctly, is expected to comply with the specification, as determined by stability studies on a number of batches of the product. The shelf life is used to establish the expiry date of each batch.
    • For vaccines, it is done by injecting into small animals (typically mice) to assess if the ability to make antibodies goes down with storage time and temperature. An expiry date means that roughly beyond that, the vaccine won’t raise immunity as well as earlier. It may still work but sub-optimally
    • “The shelf life of a vaccine is a reflection of how long the vaccine retains its potency and stability at a given storage temperature and therefore its effectiveness. The shelf life is used to establish the expiry date of each batch of the vaccine product. Expiry dates do not affect the safety of the vaccine, rather are related to the potency or amount of protection the vaccine gives

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