Welcome to TARUN IAS – Your Daily News Analysis for UPSC/IAS Exam Preparation!
Stay informed with relevant current affairs from trusted sources like The Hindu, Indian Express, PIB, and more. Our daily news analysis includes Prelims Facts and Important Editorials presented in a concise and bulletised format. Get free daily updates up to 4 P.M. (except Sundays). Don’t miss the Daily Revision Quiz to reinforce your knowledge. Good luck!
Here are the topics covered for 20th December 2023:
GS-2: Telecommunication Bill 2022
GS-3: Farm Sector Growth, Indian Science Congress, India’s ethanol conundrum
Facts for Prelims: Photoreception, Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)
Telecommunication Bill 2022
- Recently, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has issued the draft Indian Telecommunications 2022 Bill, aimed at regulating Internet-based Over-The-Top (OTT) telecom services.
About Telecommunication Bill
- One of its primary objectives is the consolidation of three existing acts, namely the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, and The Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Protection) Act, 1950.
- The proposed legislation introduces changes to the powers of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with a view to diluting certain responsibilities related to the issuance of new licenses.
- Additionally, the draft bill extends regulatory oversight to internet-based and Over-The-Top (OTT) communication services, bringing them under the purview of telecom services.
- Crucially, the bill introduces a provision for the refund of fees if a telecom or internet provider voluntarily surrenders their license. It also addresses scenarios of default in payment by licensees, allowing the government flexibility to defer payments under certain circumstances, considering factors such as financial stress, consumer interests, and competition in the sector.
- As for the present status of the telecom industry in India, it stands as the second-largest globally, with a robust subscriber base and notable contributions to FDI inflows and employment.
- The sector has witnessed exponential growth driven by factors such as affordable tariffs, extensive coverage, and technological advancements like 3G and 4G.
- Furthermore, India\’s initiatives like the PLI Schemes, telecom sector reforms, Bharat Net Project, and PM-WANI reflect a commitment to fostering growth and connectivity.
- The Draft Telecommunication Bill 2022 represents a comprehensive effort to address the evolving needs and challenges of the telecom sector in India.
- As the bill is open for discussion, stakeholders have an opportunity to contribute to shaping a robust policy framework for the future of telecommunications in India.
Farm Sector Growth
- Declining kharif crop yields, coupled with a four-year low in foodgrain output and lagging rabi crop sowing compared to last year by mid-December, prompt ICRA to warn of a further slowdown in farm sector growth. This could potentially weaken rural demand and heighten food price pressures.
Reason for Slowdown
- Delayed harvesting of paddy and a 5.1% lag in cumulative rabi sowing compared to the previous year, especially in crops like rice (9.7%), wheat (6.4%), and pulses (8.2%), may exert upward pressure on prices, warns ICRA.
- The growth of Gross Value Added (GVA) from the agriculture sector is anticipated to dip below 1% in the last two quarters of the year, dragging the full-year growth below the 2% mark, compared to a 4% increase in FY23.
- The weak outlook for rabi crop output, influenced by El Nino effects, casts a shadow on rural sentiment and consumption demand.
- India\’s agricultural sector is on the cusp of a transformative technological revolution, moving beyond mechanisation and the Green Revolution to embrace Precision Agriculture.
- This cutting-edge farm management approach utilizes Geopolitical Systems (GPS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled software to precisely map farmlands, ensuring that individual fields or crops receive the exact inputs necessary for optimal productivity.
- Agriculture 4.0 represents an advanced iteration of precision farming, with the potential to revolutionize existing agricultural practices.
- Precision farming takes a holistic approach to maintaining the well-being of fields and soil, aiming to enhance the quality and quantity of yields while minimizing environmental impact, as per experts.
Indian Science Congress
- A month after initially announcing its hosting, Lovely Professional University (LPU), based in Jalandhar, has withdrawn its commitment to host the 109th edition of the Indian Science Congress.
Indian Science Congress
- The theme for the upcoming 109th Indian Science Congress (ISC) is \’The Global Perspective on Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future.\’
- This theme underscores the importance of global cooperation and innovation in addressing contemporary challenges.
- The event will include diverse scientific sessions, plenary talks, and interactive workshops, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing.
- The 109th Indian Science Congress will bring together scientists, scholars, and policymakers from diverse disciplines, both from India and abroad.
- The aim is to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and experiences within the scientific community.
India’s ethanol conundrum
- India finds itself at a critical juncture in its pursuit of renewable energy, particularly in achieving its ethanol blending target amidst global commitments to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.
- While the country has made significant strides in increasing ethanol blended petrol (EBP) from 1.6% in 2013-14 to 11.8% in 2022-23, the ambitious goal of reaching 20% by 2025 faces challenges.
- The low sugar stocks in 2022-23 and an anticipated shortfall in sugarcane production raise concerns.
Concerns regarding ethanol production:
- To address these challenges, there is a shift in focus toward grains-based ethanol, as highlighted by the Minister of Consumer Affairs in May.
- The recent authorization for the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) and the National Cooperative Consumers\’ Federation of India (NCCF) to procure maize for ethanol production underscores this transition.
- While this move aims to bolster an organized maize-feed supply chain for ethanol, it also brings forth potential economic challenges.
- India\’s ethanol conundrum necessitates careful navigation between achieving renewable energy goals and mitigating potential impacts on food production and prices.
- The transition towards grains-based ethanol, particularly maize, demands a thorough assessment of the broader economic implications to strike a balance between reducing fossil fuel use and ensuring food security.
Facts for Prelims
- Photoreception is the biological process activated by light, and most organisms, including humans, respond to light.
- While humans have two types of photosensitive cells, rods, and cones, other animals may react to light waves not perceived by humans.
- Rods are specialized for dim illumination (scotopic vision), while cones mediate daylight vision (photopic vision) and colour sensation.
- The retinas of animals, active both day and night, contain both rods and cones.
- Nocturnal animals may sacrifice resolution for high light-gathering power in their eyes\’ optical arrangement.
Alternative Investment Funds (AIF)
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has strengthened regulations for Regulated Entities (RE), including banks and Non-Banking Financial Companies, to curb the practice of evergreening loans through investments in Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs).
- An Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) is a specialized investment category that differs from conventional investment instruments.
- It is any fund established in India that serves as a privately pooled investment vehicle, collecting funds from sophisticated investors, both Indian and foreign.
- The fund pools these funds and invests them under various categories of investments as specified by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for the benefit of investors.
- AIFs adhere to the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012, and can be structured as a company, Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), trust, etc.
- AIFs are considered an investment option for high-net-worth individuals, including both domestic and foreign investors, typically attracting institutions and individuals with substantial financial resources due to the high investment amounts involved.