02 January, 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu

  • PTS announcement
  • PM unveils project for affordable housing (Polity & Governance)
  • Clear connection (Polity & Governance)
  • RBI's digital payments index unveiled (Indian Economy)
  • GST collections touch an all-time high in December (Indian Economy)
  • Question for the day (Polity & Governance)

Prelims Quiz


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    UPSC Current Affairs: PM unveils project for affordable housing | Page - 9

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy, Schemes| Mains – GS Paper III – Economy | GS Paper II – Governance   

    Sub Theme: Utilisation of fly ash in cement plants | Light House Projects | UPSC

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday laid the foundation stone of six Light House Projects in six cities as part of the Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC-India) initiative.

    The aim of the programme is to build around 1,000 houses each in Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Agartala (Tripura) and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) over a period of 12 months.

    India is undergoing rapid urbanization. While 31% of India’s population lived in urban areas as per Census 2011, this number is expected to grow to40% by 2030 with a contribution of75% of India’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP). Large sections of the society are migrating to urban areas for better job opportunities and quality of life from rural areas. These Cities need to provide are receptive, innovative and productive environment, which can promote faster and sustainable growth ensuring a better quality of living. Hence it is imperative to have a comprehensive strategy to fulfil the rising demand in the housing sector.

    Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India, launched the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) {PMAY (U)} in 2015 to provide housing for all by the year 2022. Under this scheme, against a validated demand of 10 million houses are to be constructed by 2022; about 7 million houses have been sanctioned by MoHUA till date out of which 1.5 million houses has been handed over to the beneficiaries. About 3.7 million are under construction, out of which about 1.25 million are using innovative and alternative technologies.

    Within the ambit of the overarching PMAY (U), a Technology Sub-Mission (TSM) was set up, to facilitate the adoption of innovative, sustainable, eco-friendly and disaster-resilient technologies and building materials for low-cost, speedier and quality construction of houses.

    Importance of the adoption of new and innovative construction technologies

    • Higher speed and quality of work under PMAY (U)would help fulfil the vision of ‘Housing for All’ by 2022.
    • Cost effective and speedier while enabling the quality construction of houses, meeting diverse geo-climatic conditions and desired functional needs.
    • Typically conventional construction systems (such as the use of brick and mortar) are slow paced, energy intensive, dependent on natural resources and have a large carbon footprint.
    • Contribute towards achieving the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) as laid out by the United Nations (UN), the ‘New Urban Agenda’ and the ‘Paris Climate Accord’ to which India is a signatory and other such international commitments. Such a technology transition aligns well with the vision of ‘New India 2022’.
    • Foster an environment of research and development in the country.
    • LHPs will serve as live laboratories for facilitating transfer of technology to the field and its further replication.
    • Deliver on the technological challenges of the housing construction sector in a holistic manner.
    • Growth of ancillary industries and provide the required skill set in the innovative and alternative construction regime.
    • Labourers will gain from being trained and skill enabled for employment in modernized construction industry that is envisaged by MoHUA, thereby accessing higher paying jobs.
    • Improved living conditions and environment with a sense of dignity.

    MoHUA has, therefore, conceptualized a Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC- India) to enable a paradigm shift in the construction sector. A concerted effort is required to create mass awareness to accept a technology transition from conventional to new technologies through lighthouse projects, expositions and other outreach methods that will mainstream its use.

    Global Housing Technology Challenge

    • Aim
    • to identify and mainstream a basket of innovative construction technologies from across the globe for housing construction sector that are sustainable, eco-friendly and disaster-resilient.
    • to develop an eco-system to deliver on the technological challenges of the housing construction sector in a holistic manner.
    • The GHTC- India will also converge with other existing centrally sponsored schemes and Missions such as Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat (U), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban(PMAY -U), National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), Ujjwalla, Ujala, Make in India, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), Skill India Mission amongst others.
    • The cooperation extended by the States has been strengthening cooperative federalism. 

    Modern construction practices

    • The LHP at Ranchi is being constructed using the technology ‘3 D Volumetric Precast Concrete Construction System’ that originated from Germany.
    • Indore will showcase ‘Prefabricated Sandwich Panel System’ that originated in China.
    • Rajkot will be ‘Monolithic Concrete Construction using Tunnel Formwork’, a technology that comes from France.
    • ‘Precast Concrete Construction System’ technology will be used at Chennai that has come from Finland and the US.
    • ‘Structural Steel Frame with Light Gauge Steel Infill Panels’ system from New Zealand will be used at Agartala.
    • The LHP at Lucknow will have a technology from Canada called ‘PVC Stay In Place Formwork System’.

    Special Features of the Precast Concrete Construction System

    • About 90% of the building work including finishing is complete in plant/castingyard leading to significant reduction in construction & occupancy time.
    • The controlled factory environment brings resource optimization, and improvedquality, precision & finish
    • The concrete can use industrial by-products such as Fly Ash, Ground granulatedblast furnace slag (GGBFS), Micro silica etc. resulting in improved workability &durability, while also conserving natural resources.
    • Eliminates use of plaster.
    • The monolithic casting of walls & floor of a building module reduces the chancesof leakage
    • The system has minimal material wastage (saving in material cost), helps inkeeping neat & clean construction site and dust free environment.
    • Optimum use of water through recycling.
    • All weather construction & better site organization

    As part of ‘Construction Technology Year’, besides LHPs, a Certificate Course on Innovative Construction Technologies namely NAVARITIH (New, Affordable, Validated, Research Innovation Technologies for Indian Housing) and a Compendium of 54 innovative housing construction technologies has been identified through GHTC-India.


    UPSC Current Affairs: Clear connection – Editorial | Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy| Mains – GS Paper III – Economy

    Sub Theme: Interconnect Usage Charge | Controversy on IUC | UPSC

    Context: According to recent notification issued by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Interconnect Usage Charge regime has been done away with from 1st January 2021. In the past, the interconnect Usage Charge regime had created a lot of controversy in the Telecom Industry. Hence, doing away with this regime is set to benefit both the customers and Telecom operators.

    What is the Interconnect Usage Charge (IUC)?

    IUC is the cost that a mobile operator pays to another operator for carrying through/ terminating a call. If a customer of Mobile Operator A calls a customer of Mobile Operator B and the call is completed, then A pays an IUC charge to B for carrying/ facilitating the call. Essentially, it is the originating network compensating the receiving network for cost of carrying the call. In India IUC is set by the TRAI.

    In September 2017, TRAI had ordered a reduction in IUC to 6 paise per minute from 14 paise earlier.  Now, the TRAI has decided to do away with the regime completely.

    Controversy in the recent past

    • Jio had claimed that because of the price difference between free voice on Jio network and high tariffs on Airtel and Vodafone-Idea networks, customers of the other networks are relying on giving missed calls to Jio customers.
    • It has claimed that the Jio network receives 25 to 30 crores missed calls on a daily basis, presumably because people want their friends or family on Jio to call them back. These call backs by the Jio Customers to the customers on the other networks is leading to payment of higher Interconnect Usage charges by the Reliance Jio Company.
    • Accordingly, Reliance Jio was in favor of doing away with IUC. However, it was opposed by other Telecom Operators such as Airtel, Vodafone etc. which were net beneficiaries of IUC regime.

     Note: Challenges with the Telecom Sector covered in DNS dated 05-Nov-2020


    UPSC Current Affairs: RBI’s digital payments index unveiled | Page–14

    UPSC Syllabus:| Prelims: Economy| Mains – GS Paper III – Economy

    Sub Theme: Digital Payments Index |RBI| Digitization of Payment | UPSC   

    Context: The RBI has recently unveiled composite Digital Payments Index (DPI) to capture the extent of digitisation of payments across the country. The main aim of the index creation is to capture the extent of digitization of monetary payments in the country

    It was recommended by a committee headed by Nandan Nilekani on deepening digital payment.

    The banking regulator and the government have been working on facilitating adoption of cashless payment systems like digital wallets, internet banking, credit and debit cards. The government recently scrapped merchant discount rates (MDR is the cost paid by a merchant to a bank for accepting payment from their customers via digital means) on payments made through RuPay debit cards and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).


    The Index comprises of 5 broad parameters that enable measurement of penetration of digital payments in the country over different time periods. These parameters are –

    • Payment Enablers (weight 25%)
    • Payment Infrastructure – Demand-side factors (10%)
    • Payment Infrastructure – Supply-side factors (15%)
    • Payment Performance (45%) and
    • Consumer Centricity (5%).

    Each of these parameters have sub-parameters which, in turn, consist of various measurable indicators.

    The RBI-DPI has been constructed with March 2018 as the base, meaning the DPI for march 2018 is 100. The DPI for March 2019 and March 2020 work out to 153.47 and 207.84, respectively, indicating (an) appreciable growth. Going forward, RBI-DPI will be published on the central bank's website on a semi-annual basis from March 2021 onwards with a lag of four months. The Index will help to study the impact of policy interventions that are being taken by the GoI.


    UPSC Current Affairs: GST collections touch an all-time high in December | Page - 1

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains – GS Paper III – Economy

    Sub Theme: GST Collections | Agreement on Agriculture | Argument against Subsidies | UPSC

    Context: This article has appeared in the newspaper in the context of the recent protests over the Farm Acts. This article is highly critical of the farm acts wherein it highlights that apart from domestic firms, even the foreign agri-business firms could exploit Indian Farmers. Through the contract farming, the foreign agri-business firms could force farmers to grow those crops which they need in their own country. Once these crops are procured by them, these crops would be exported out of India. 

    This could be dangerous proposition on account of number of factors. One, it could lead to diversion of land away from food crops to commercial crops and thus affect India's food security. Two, it could expose the Indian farmers to the exploitation by the global MNCs. Third, it would weaken the procurement and distribution of food grains and thus lead to income poor support for the farmers.

    Agreement on Agriculture

    The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA)  basically aims to facilitate international trade in agricultural goods by putting a cap on the agricultural subsidies given by the member countries.

    This stands on 3 pillars viz. Domestic Support, Market Access, and Export Subsidies.

    Domestic Support:

    Green Box Subsidies:  It include subsidies such as R&D, Expansion of Irrigation Facilities, Income support to the Farmers (which is not product specific) etc. These subsidies are considered to be non-distortionary in terms of International trade. In order to qualify, green box subsidies must not distort trade, or at most cause minimal distortion. They have to be government-funded and must not involve price support. There is no limit on Green Box Subsidies.

    Blue Box Subsidies:

    Blue box supports are subsidies that are tied to programmes that limit production. Hence it is an exception to the general rule related to agricultural support. The Blue box subsidies aim to limit production by imposing production quotas or requiring farmers to set aside part of their land.  Currently only few countries like Norway and Iceland provide such subsidies. There is no limit on Blue Box Subsidies. ]

    Amber Box Subsidies: Nearly all domestic support measures which distort production as well as International trade. These include subsidies Electricity, Fertilisers, Seeds, Water, MSP etc.

    Limit on Subsidies

    • Developing countries: 10% of the domestic agricultural value production in 1986-88.
    • Developed countries: 5% of the domestic agricultural value production in 1986-88

    Current Issues with the AoA

    In order to implement National Food Security Act(NFSA), the Government is required to subsidies over and above the limit specified under AoA. At the Bali ministerial conference in December 2013, India secured a “peace clause". Under it, if India breaches the 10% limit on subsidy under AoA, other member countries will not take legal action under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. Further, in 2014, India forced developed countries to clarify that the peace clause will continue indefinitely until a permanent solution is found. Presently, India has been demanding a permanent solution on Public stockholding in order to implement National Food Security Act. 

    India's Argument against Subsidies under AoA

    • The percentage limit on the Subsidies is quite deceptive. In terms of absolute value, the developed economies have been providing subsidies far higher than India.
    • The limit on the subsidy does not factor in the Inflation. It is calculated as the value of production in 1986-88. Since then, the prices of agricultural commodities have increased.
    • Under the Green Box Subsidies, direct income support to the farmers (not linked to specific product) is allowed. This has been misused by countries such as USA. The direct cash transfers to the farmers in USA account for almost 50% of its agricultural value production.
    • Procurement of the Commodities under MSP regime is not for boosting agricultural exports, rather it is for meeting food security needs of Indian Citizens.

    Mrs Harshala Sarode 21 hours ago

    can we bookmark the questions? or can we save the whole quiz?