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26-June-2024-Daily-Current-Affairs

June 26 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

WILL THE AGNIPATH SCHEME BE REVAMPED? 

TOPIC: (GS2) POLITY AND GOVERNANCE – SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS 

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, 2022, replaced the permanent recruitment process for soldiers, sailors, and airmen in the Indian Armed Forces. Recruits called Agniveers serve for four years, after which up to 25% may be retained permanently. 

Key Features 

  • Age bracket: 17.5 to 21 years (extended to 23 years for 2022 recruitment). 
  • Intake capped at 1.75 lakh until 2026. 
  • Annual recruitment: Army (40,000), Navy and Air Force (3,000 each). 
  • Agni veers can earn educational certificates and a lump sum amount after four years, but no pension. 

Government’s Goals 

  • Reduce the average age of armed forces from 32 to 26 years. 
  • Ensure Agni veers contribute to nation-building post-service. 

Concerns Raised 

  • Shortage of personnel, especially below officer rank, exacerbated by COVID-19 recruitment halt. 
  • Low conversion rate (25%) from Agni veers to regular soldiers may worsen shortfalls. 
  • Compressed training schedules due to the short four-year service period. 
  • Scheme sparked violent protests and political debates. 

Political Reactions 

  • NDA allies JD(U) and LJP (Ram Vilas) called for a review of the scheme. 
  • JD(U) leader K.C. Tyagi suggested a clause-by-clause review. 

Current Status 

  • As the scheme completes two years, feedback is being collected from the armed forces. 
  • Recommendations include increasing intake numbers and permanent recruitment rates. 
  • Proposal to raise the age limit for technical recruits from 21 to 23 years. 
  • Feedback from Navy and Air Force compiled; Army’s feedback still in process. 

Positives 

  • Modernizes the age profile of the armed forces. 
  • Provides educational and skill-building opportunities for Agniveers. 
  • Contributes to nation-building by integrating trained individuals back into society. 

Negatives 

  • Potential for increased personnel shortages due to low conversion rates. 
  • Short service duration may impact operational effectiveness. 
  • Political and social unrest linked to scheme implementation. 

International Examples 

  • Israel: Compulsory military service for both men and women, typically starting at age 18, ensures a young, dynamic military force. 
  • South Korea: Mandatory military service for men aged 18-28, focusing on short-term service with subsequent integration into civilian life. 

Conclusion 

The government is open to discussions and changes based on feedback. The Department of Military Affairs will compile and assess all recommendations for potential adjustments to the scheme. 

Multiple Choice Question: 

  1. Consider the following statements regarding the qualification for the Agnipath Recruitment Scheme:
  1. A minimum educational qualification of 12th standard pass is required. 
  1. The age limit for applying under the scheme is 23 years. 
  1. Only male candidates are eligible for the Agnipath scheme. 

Which of the above statements is/are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  1. 2 and 3 only 
  1. 1 and 2 only 
  1. All of the above 

ANSWER – C 

EXPLANATION: 

The minimum educational qualification for the Agnipath scheme is Class 10th pass. 

The age limit for applying under the scheme was recently increased to 23 years. 

The scheme is open to both male and female candidates (for the Navy and Air Force). The Army offers the scheme for the Military Police Corps only as of June 2024. 

WATER STRESS CAN HURT CREDIT PROFILE 

TOPIC: (GS3) ENVIRONMENT – SOURCE: THE HINDU 

Moody’s Ratings warned that India’s water shortage and climate change-driven natural disasters could negatively impact the country’s sovereign credit strength. Currently rated Baa3 stable, India faces increasing water stress, which could disrupt agriculture and industries, leading to inflation, income decline, and social unrest. 

Key Points 

  • Sovereign Credit Risk: Water shortages and natural disasters could weaken India’s credit strength. 
  • Economic Impact: Disruption in factories and farms due to water scarcity could spur food price inflation and reduce incomes. 
  • Employment Risk: Over 40% of India’s workforce in agriculture could face volatility due to water issues. 
  • Vulnerable Sectors: Coal-fired power generation and steel production are most at risk from water stress. 

Poorest Access to Basic Services 

  • G-20 Comparison: India has the poorest access to basic services, including water, among G-20 countries. 
  • Rapid Growth: Economic growth, industrialization, and urbanization are reducing water availability. 

Water Availability Statistics 

  • Current Levels: Annual water availability per capita was 1,486 cubic meters in 2021. 
  • Future Projections: Expected to drop to 1,367 cubic meters by 2031. 
  • Water Stress Threshold: Below 1,700 cubic meters per capita. 
  • Water Scarcity Threshold: Below 1,000 cubic meters per capita. 

Definitions 

  • Water Stress: A condition where water availability is below 1,700 cubic meters per capita. 
  • Water Scarcity: A severe condition where water availability drops below 1,000 cubic meters per capita. 

Water Stress Areas in India 

  • Regions Affected: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are highly vulnerable to water stress. 

Measures to Decrease Water Stress 

  • Rainwater Harvesting: Collecting and storing rainwater for use during dry periods. 
  • Efficient Irrigation: Implementing drip irrigation and other water-saving techniques. 
  • Water Recycling: Treating and reusing wastewater in industries and agriculture. 

Good Practices 

  • Example – Rajendra Singh (Waterman of India): Revived several rivers in Rajasthan through traditional water conservation methods and community involvement. 

Conclusion 

India’s growing water shortage and climate change impacts pose significant risks to its economy and credit stability. Addressing water management through effective measures and learning from successful examples is crucial for mitigating these risks. 

Multiple Choice Question: 

  1. Which of the following sectors in India is most at risk due to water stress according to Moody’s Ratings?
  1. Information Technology 
  1. Coal-fired power generation 
  1. Tourism 
  1. Telecommunications 

 

ANSWER – B 

EXPLANATION: 

Moody’s Ratings has highlighted that India’s water stress could negatively impact various sectors, with coal-fired power generation being one of the most at risk. Water is essential for cooling in power plants, and a shortage could disrupt operations, leading to reduced electricity production. This is significant for India, where coal-fired power plants constitute a major part of the energy mix. In contrast, sectors like Information Technology, Tourism, and Telecommunications are less dependent on water for their core operations and therefore are not as directly affected by water scarcity. 

INDIA’S EXTERNAL DEBT RISES $39.7 BN YOY TO $663.8 BN: RBI DATA 

TOPIC: (GS3) ECONOMY – SOURCE: THE HINDU 

India’s external debt at the end of March 2024 stood at $663.8 billion, an increase of $39.7 billion from the previous year. Despite this rise, the external debt-to-GDP ratio slightly declined from 19.0% in March 2023 to 18.7% in March 2024. 

Key Points 

  • External Debt Increase: $663.8 billion at end-March 2024, up by $39.7 billion from end-March 2023. 
  • Debt-to-GDP Ratio: Declined to 18.7% from 19.0% the previous year. 
  • Valuation Effect: $8.7 billion due to the appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the Indian rupee and other major currencies. 

Debt Composition 

  • U.S. Dollar-Denominated Debt: Largest share at 53.8%. 
  • Indian Rupee: 31.5% 
  • Japanese Yen: 5.8% 
  • Special Drawing Rights (SDR): 5.4% 
  • Euro: 2.8% 

Components of External Debt: 

  • Loans: 33.4% 
  • Currency and Deposits: 23.3% 
  • Trade Credit and Advances: 17.9% 
  • Debt Securities: 17.3% 

Internal vs. External Debt 

Internal Debt: 

  • Borrowed within the country. 
  • Includes government securities, treasury bills, and bonds. 
  • Largest Debtor: Indian Government. 

External Debt: 

  • Borrowed from foreign sources. 
  • Includes loans, trade credits, and external bonds. 
  • Largest Debtor: Indian Government and non-government sectors. 

Previous Year Outlay 

  • Government vs. External Debt: This ratio reflects the total government debt compared to GDP. It’s important to note that India’s external debt (money owed to foreign creditors) has a lower ratio, around 18.7% of GDP (as of March 2024).  
  • External Debt: $624.1 billion. 
  • Debt-to-GDP Ratio: 19.0%. 
  • Currency Distribution: 
  • U.S. Dollar: Majority share. 
  • Indian Rupee, Yen, SDR, and Euro: Similar proportions as in 2024. 

Biggest Debtors 

  • Government Sector holds a significant portion of both internal and external debt. 
  • Utilizes loans and bonds for infrastructure and development projects. 

Non-Government Sector: 

  • Includes corporate entities and financial institutions. 
  • Uses trade credits and external loans for business expansion and operations. 

Government Pledges: 

  • Foreign Exchange Reserves: Held by the Reserve Bank of India. 
  • Government Bonds: Issued to domestic and international investors. 
  • Infrastructure Projects: Revenue-generating assets like toll roads and power plants. 

DEBT-TO-GDP RATIO 

The debt-to-GDP ratio is a metric used to assess a country’s ability to pay back its debts. It compares a nation’s total government debt (how much it owes) to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (the total value of goods and services produced). It’s usually expressed as a percentage. 

  • Higher Ratio: A high debt-to-GDP ratio suggests a country might struggle to repay its debts, potentially leading to economic instability. 
  • Lower Ratio: A lower ratio indicates a country has more wiggle room to manage its debts and invest in growth. 
  • There’s no universally accepted “safe” limit for the debt-to-GDP ratio. It can vary depending on factors like a country’s economic development, interest rates, and growth prospects. However, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) doesn’t set a specific debt-to-GDP target. 

Here are some general guidelines: 

  • Developed Economies: Often have higher debt-to-GDP ratios due to established infrastructure and social programs. Levels exceeding 100% might be considered manageable. 
  • Emerging Economies: Typically have lower ratios due to their developing economies. Levels exceeding 60% might raise concerns. 

India’s Debt-to-GDP Ratio 

  • India’s current debt-to-GDP ratio is estimated to be around 81.6% (as of March 2024).  

Conclusion 

India’s external debt has increased, but the debt-to-GDP ratio has marginally improved. The U.S. dollar remains the dominant currency for external debt, and both government and non-government sectors have seen a rise in outstanding debt. Effective debt management and strategic use of pledged assets are crucial for maintaining economic stability. 

Multiple Choice Question: 

  1. Consider the following statements regarding internal and external debt of a country:
  1. Internal debt is owed to domestic lenders such as banks and citizens, while external debt is owed to foreign lenders. 
  1. Servicing external debt typically involves a higher foreign exchange risk compared to internal debt. 
  1. A higher internal debt to GDP ratio is generally considered less risky than a high external debt to GDP ratio. 

Which of the above statements is/are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  1. 1 and 2 only 
  1. 1 and 3 only 
  1. All of the above 

ANSWER – D 

EXPLANATION: 

Internal debt refers to money borrowed by the government from domestic sources like banks, financial institutions, and citizens through instruments like government bonds. External debt is money borrowed from foreign lenders like international institutions, foreign governments, and private investors. 

Servicing external debt involves repaying the principal amount and interest in a foreign currency. Fluctuations in exchange rates can significantly impact the cost of repayment, making it riskier compared to internal debt which is typically denominated in the domestic currency. 

A high internal debt can lead to inflation and crowding out private investment. However, the risk of default is generally lower compared to external debt. If a country cannot repay its external debt, it can face severe economic consequences like sanctions and capital flight. 

CHINA’S CHANG’E-6 BRINGS BACK SAMPLES FROM FAR SIDE OF MOON: WHAT WAS THE MISSION? 

TOPIC: (GS3) SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY– SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS 

On June 25, 2024, China’s Chang’e-6 mission became the first to bring back samples from the Moon’s far side. This historic event is celebrated globally by scientists and humanity. 

Importance of Exploring the Far Side of the Moon 

  • The far side of the Moon, also known as the “dark side,” is never visible from Earth due to tidal locking. 
  • It differs from the near side with a thicker crust, more craters, and fewer plains (maria). 
  • Scientists believe that samples from the far side can help solve mysteries about the Moon’s origin and evolution. 
  • Analyzing these samples can also explain why the far side is different from the near side. 

Details of the Chang’e-6 Mission 

  • The mission lasted 53 days and targeted the South Pole-Aitken basin, a large impact crater. 
  • The basin’s formation might have exposed materials from the Moon’s mantle, offering insights into its interior. 

The mission involved: 

  • An orbiter circling the Moon. 
  • A lander descending into the basin. 
  • Collecting samples through scooping and drilling. 
  • Transferring samples via an ascent vehicle to the orbiter’s service module. 
  • Returning samples to Earth. 

China is the only country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon’s far side, with the Chang’e-4 mission exploring the Von Karman crater in 2019. 

Multiple Choice Question: 

  1. Consider the following statements about recent Moon missions (2022-2024):
  1. Chandrayaan-3, launched by India, successfully landed a rover on the lunar south pole and is currently operational. 
  1. Luna-25, a Russian lander, retrieved the first lunar samples since the Apollo missions. 
  1. The CAPSTONE mission by NASA is testing a new lunar orbit for future crewed missions. 

Which of the statements given above are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  1. 2 and 3 only 
  1. 1 and 3 only 
  1. All of the above 

ANSWER – C 

EXPLANATION: 

Chandrayaan-3 (India) successfully landed a lander and rover near the lunar south pole in 2023. 

Luna-25 (Russia) aimed to land on the Moon in 2023, but its mission status is unclear. 

CAPSTONE (NASA) is a small satellite testing a new lunar orbit in preparation for Artemis missions. 

VADHAVAN PORT 

TOPIC: (GS2) POLITY AND GOVERNANCE– SOURCE: THE HINDU 

The Union Cabinet has sanctioned the Vadhavan Port project in Maharashtra, a significant venture with a budget of Rs 76,220 crore. This decision follows extensive deliberations, marking a substantial development in India’s maritime infrastructure. 

  • About Vadhavan Port 
  • Location: Vadhavan, Palghar District, Maharashtra. 
  • Type: Greenfield deep-sea port. 
  • Development: All-weather deep draft major port. 
  • Infrastructure: Core infrastructure, terminals, and commercial facilities in PPP mode. 

Project Details 

  • Constructed by: Vadhavan Port Project Limited (VPPL). 
  • SPV Formation: Jointly by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) and Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB). 
  • Shareholding: JNPA – 74%, MMB – 26%. 
  • Total Cost: Rs 76,220 crores, including land acquisition. 

Facilities: 

  • Nine 1000-meter-long container terminals. 
  • Four multipurpose berths, including a coastal berth. 
  • Four liquid cargo berths. 
  • One Ro-Ro berth. 
  • One Coast Guard berth. 
  • Area Reclamation: 1,448 hectares in the sea. 
  • Offshore Breakwater: 10.14 km. 
  • Capacity: 298 million metric tons (MMT) annually, including 23.2 million TEUs for container handling. 

Connectivity and Significance 

  • Link: Connected to the Delhi–Mumbai Expressway. 
  • Corridors: Gateway port for India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC) and International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC). 
  • Government Initiative: Part of the Sagarmala initiative to boost logistics performance. 

Conclusion 

The Vadhavan Port project is poised to become a cornerstone in India’s maritime sector, enhancing trade capacities and logistical efficiency, aligning with the nation’s broader economic and infrastructural goals. 

PRIORITY SECTOR LENDING (PSL) 

TOPIC: (GS3) ECONOMY– SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS 

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has updated its priority sector lending (PSL) guidelines to encourage banks to provide small loans in economically disadvantaged districts with low average loan sizes.  

These changes aim to ensure balanced credit distribution and promote inclusive economic growth. 

                       

About Priority Sector Lending (PSL) 

  • Definition: PSL is a requirement by the RBI for banks to allocate a certain percentage of their loans to sectors deemed critical for development or those facing difficulties in obtaining credit. 
  • Periodic Updates: The RBI regularly revises the eligible sectors and loan limits for PSL, along with the institutions required to comply. 

Categories of Priority Sectors 

  • Agriculture 
  • Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) 
  • Export Credit 
  • Education 
  • Housing 
  • Social Infrastructure 
  • Renewable Energy 
  • Others 

Targets under PSL 

  • Domestic SCBs and Foreign Banks (≥20 branches): 40% of Adjusted Net Bank Credit (ANBC) or Credit Equivalent Amount of Off-Balance Sheet Exposure (CEOBE). 
  • Foreign Banks (<20 branches): 40% of ANBC or CEOBE; up to 32% for exports and at least 8% for other priority sectors. 
  • Regional Rural Banks and Small Finance Banks: 75% of ANBC or CEOBE. 
  • Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks (UCBs): 40% of ANBC or CEOBE, increasing to 75% by FY2025-26. 

Meeting PSL Obligations 

  • Methods: Banks can extend loans, offer credit facilities, and invest in eligible instruments. 
  • Non-Compliance: Banks failing to meet targets must deposit the shortfall into funds such as the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) with NABARD. 

Priority Sector Lending Certificates (PSLCs) 

  • Definition: Certificates issued against priority sector loans, allowing banks to meet PSL targets by purchasing these instruments. 
  • Purpose: Guard against shortfalls and incentivize lending to priority sectors. 

Revised RBI Guidelines 

  • Discouragement: Lending in districts with high average loan sizes is discouraged. 

Weightage Adjustments (Starting FY25): 

  • High Loan Availability Districts (> Rs 42,000/person): Loans will have a weight of 90%. 
  • Low Loan Availability Districts (< Rs 9,000/person): Fresh priority sector loans will have a weight of 125%. 
  • All Other Districts: Maintain the current importance level of 100%, except for outliers. 

Conclusion 

The revised RBI guidelines on PSL aim to promote equitable credit distribution, particularly in districts with low loan availability, thereby fostering inclusive growth and balanced economic development across regions. 

JAVELIN ANTI-TANK MISSILE 

TOPIC: (GS3) SECURITY– SOURCE: TIMES OF INDIA 

The recent joint military drills between US and Philippine troops showcased the use of Javelin anti-tank missiles, marking their largest exercise to date.  

This advanced weaponry highlights the strategic military capabilities and collaboration between the two nations. 

About Javelin Anti-Tank Missile 

  • Type: Man-portable antitank guided missile (ATGM) system. 
  • Developers: Jointly developed by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. 

Features and Capabilities 

  • Primary Use: Designed to defeat heavily armored vehicles such as main battle tanks. 
  • Additional Targets: Effective against fortifications, bunkers, and helicopters. 
  • Service History: Entered U.S. military service in 1996. 

Dimensions: 

  • Length: 1.2 meters 
  • Diameter: 127 millimeters 
  • Weight: 22.1 kilograms 

Warhead: 

  • Type: 8.4 kg tandem-charge, high-explosive antitank (HEAT) warhead. 
  • Range: Maximum qualified range of 2,500 meters. 

Technology and Operation 

  • Guidance System: Utilizes “fire-and-forget” technology with automatic infrared guidance. 

Firing Modes: 

  • Shoulder-fired. 
  • Can be mounted on wheeled or tracked vehicles. 

Attack Modes: 

  • Direct attack mode for ground targets. 
  • Upward firing to engage low-flying aircraft like helicopters. 
  • Reload Time: Approximately one minute to reload and reacquire target. 

Conclusion 

The Javelin anti-tank missile, with its advanced technology and versatile capabilities, significantly enhances military operational effectiveness. Its deployment in joint exercises underscores the strategic defence partnership between the US and the Philippines, showcasing their commitment to maintaining regional security and defence readiness. 

WORLD CRAFT CITY 

TOPIC: (GS3) POLITY AND GOVERNANCE– SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS 

Srinagar has been honoured with the World Craft City (WCC) tag by the World Crafts Council (WCC). This recognition highlights the city’s rich craft heritage and the contributions of its artisans to cultural, economic, and social development. 

 

About World Craft City 

  • Initiative launched in 2014 under the auspices of the World Crafts Council AISBL (WCC-International). 
  • Purpose: Recognizes the significant role of local authorities, craftspeople, and communities in development. 
  • Network: Creates a global network of craft cities, promoting the creative economy. 
  • Indian Craft Cities: Jaipur (Rajasthan), Mammalapuram (Tamil Nadu), and Mysore (Karnataka) are previous Indian cities recognized as craft cities. 

Famous Crafts from Srinagar 

  • Papier-Mâché: Craft of making objects from mashed and moulded paper pulp, traditionally painted and lacquered. 
  • Pashmina: Hand-spun and hand-woven fabric, renowned for its shawls, Kani, and Sozni. 
  • Sozni Shawls: Embroidery art originating from Kashmir, known for intricate needlework called sozankari. 

Key Facts about World Crafts Council 

  • Founders: Established in 1964 by Ms. Aileen O. Webb, Ms. Margaret M. Patch, and Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. 
  • Nature: Non-governmental and non-profit organization. 
  • Objective: Strengthen the status of crafts in cultural and economic life. 
  • Aim: Promote fellowship among craftspeople by providing encouragement, help, and advice. 
  • Activities: Facilitates cultural exchange through conferences, international visits, research, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and more. 

Conclusion 

The WCC tag for Srinagar underscores its importance in the global crafts community. This recognition not only honours the city’s artisans but also promotes cultural exchange and economic growth, aligning with the broader objectives of the World Crafts Council. 

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June 26
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7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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