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Current Affairs – 19 January 2021

Bad bank

IN NEWS:

  1. According to the Financial Stability Report of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), non-performing assets (NPAs) of the banking sector are expected to shoot up under the baseline scenario, as “a multi-speed recovery is struggling to gain traction” amidst the pandemic.
  2. In such a situation, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das indicated that the central bank can consider the idea of a bad bank to tackle NPAs and advised banks and non-banks to adopt appropriate compliance culture and identify risks early.

ABOUT BAD BANK

  1. A bad bank functions as a bank but has bad assets to start with. Technically, a bad bank is an asset reconstruction company (ARC) or an asset management company that takes over the bad loans of commercial banks, manages them and finally recovers the money over a period of time.
  2. The bad bank is not involved in lending and taking deposits, but helps commercial banks clean up their balance sheets and resolve bad loans.
  3. The takeover of bad loans is normally below the book value of the loan and the bad bank tries to recover as much as possible subsequently.
  4. US-based Mellon Bank created the first bad bank in 1988, after which the concept has been implemented in other countries including Sweden, Finland, France and Germany.
  5. However, resolution agencies or ARCs set up as banks, which originate or guarantee lending, have ended up turning into reckless lenders in some countries.

 

Govt panel sought waiver for IITs

IN NEWS:

  1. THE NATIONAL Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has sought an inquiry into a complaint against a government-appointed committee that recently recommended that IITs be exempt from reserving faculty positions.

ABOUT:

  1. The committee was setup by the Ministry of Education (MoE) in April 2020 to look into “effective implementation of reservation “in student admissions and faculty positions at IITs.
  2. Instead of implementing quotas in faculty positions, the panel had suggested that the 23 IITs should be exempted from reservations altogether under the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act 2019.
  3. The 23IITs reserve posts while recruiting faculty at the entry level of Assistant Professor.
  4. There is no SC/ST/OBC quota for recruiting at senior faculty posts such as Associate Professor and Professor.
  5. Even at the entry-level, if the IITs cannot find suitable SC, ST and OBC candidates, they can de-reserve these posts after a year, as per guidelines notified by the government in 2008. However, in humanities and management courses at IITs, quotas are offered at all three levels.
  6. According to the panel, rather than specific quotas, diversity issues should be addressed through outreach campaigns and targeted faculty recruitment.
  7. IITs should be added to the list of “Institutions of Excellence” mentioned in the Schedule to the CEI Act. Section 4 of the Act exempts “institutions of excellence, research institutions, and institutions of national and strategic importance” mentioned in the Schedule and minority institutions from providing reservation.
  8. On the other hand, panel justified that that faculty positions cannot be kept vacant for long (in case no suitable SC, ST and OBC candidates are available) if the IITs have to break into the top global ranking.
  9. There are many IITs which were established more than 60-70 years ago but never obtained world ranknig even within top 200 despite being there more than 95% faculty of these institutions from unreserved categories.
  10. This will impact the diversity issues in these instructions, which will be against the spirit of the Constitution of India.

 

Step up bid to pull greenhouse gases

IN NEWS:

  1. As carbon dioxide is increasing, technology can be used to suck from the sky which is physically possible but this way has been dismissed as an impractical way to fight climate change and far too expensive to be of much use.
  2. But as global warming accelerates and society continues to emit greenhouse gases at a dangerous rate, large companies facing pressure to act on climate.

ABOUT:

  1. Corporations are pouring money into so-called engineered carbon removal— for example, using giant fans to pull carbon dioxide from the air and trap it.
  2. These techniques may be the only way to fulfill lofty “net zero” pledges.
  3. Few companies are investing in a large “direct air capture” plant that will use fans and chemical agents to scrub carbon dioxide from the sky and inject it underground.
  4. Other companies have begun spending on start-ups working on carbon removal techniques, such as sequestering the gas in concrete for buildings.
  5. According to the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nations may need to remove between 100 billion and 1 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere this century to avert the worst effects of climate change— far more than can be absorbed by simply planting more trees.
  6. But many carbon removal technologies remain too expensive for widespread use, often costing $600 or more per tonne of carbon. There’s widespread agreement that companies pledging to address climate change should first do everything possible to slash their emissions — by using more renewable power or improving energy efficiency.
  7. Most of the time, it’s easier to prevent emissions in the first place than it is to pull back carbon dioxide after it’s diffused into the atmosphere.
  8. But that still leaves significant sources of emissions that have no easy solutions, like cement manufacturing, long-distance shipping or air travel.

 

Gujarat rivers highly polluted

IN NEWS:

  1. Pollution has been increased in the Sabarmati, Mahisagar, Narmada, Vishwamitri and Bhadar due to unchecked flow of untreated industrial effluent into rivers in Gujarat.

ABOUT:

  1. Gujarat ranks fourth among the top five States with highly polluted rivers, with as many as 20 rivers in the critically polluted category.
  2. According to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) data, the Sabarmati is among the most polluted rivers in the country.
  3. As per the official parameters, if the chemical oxygen demand (COD), which indicates organic pollutant load, is higher than 250 mg per litre, then it should not be released into the rivers.
  4. Most of the Gujarat rivers where the effluents are dumped into, the COD level is in the range of 700 to 1000 mg per litre.
  5. While Dissolved Oxygen (DO) level [indicating the health of a river] in perennial rivers like Mahisgar should be in the range of 6 to 8 mg per litre, it is actually below 2.9 mg per litre.

 

‘Land under PLA control since 1959’

CONTEXT:

  1. Recently, NDTV showed satellite images of a new Chinese settlement in Arunachal Pradesh and after that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) remarked that it was not aware of infrastructure construction by China in the past several years “along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)” and that India has also stepped up its construction.

ABOUT:

  1. Satellite images show the construction of a big village on the banks of Tsari Chu river in Upper Subansiri district between November 2019 and November 2020.
  2. Construction of this village appears to be a violation of a key part of multiple agreements reached with India that ask both countries to “safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas” and decree that ”Pending an ultimate settlement of the boundary question, the two sides should strictly respect and observe the line of actual control and work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.”
  3. This is the first time the government has acknowledged Chinese construction, although the land has been under the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) control since 1959.
  4. Prior to that, there was an Assam Rifles post there which was overrun. They have been doing construction there on and off. There were some temporary constructions few years back. They have now done permanent construction there.

 

New monsoon forecast models

CONTEXT:

  1. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) may introduce new monsoon models this year to better forecast changes in rainfall.
  2. Three different models that could be tested this year. Two of them were dynamical models and one a statistical model.

ABOUT:

  1. The monsoon that concluded in 2020 was unique, in that with monsoon 2019, it was only the third time in a century that India saw back-to-back years of above normal rainfall.
  2. In both years — and monsoon 2019 was a 25-year high — the IMD failed to forecast the magnitude of the excess and only indicated that the monsoon would be “above normal”.

COMPUTER SIMULATION:

  1. In the former, the climate on any particular day is simulated on supercomputers and meteorologists observe the changing daily output.
  2. The other is the traditional statistical model that equates relationships of physical parameters, such as for instance sea surface temperatures, snowfall, the temperature of landmass etc, with the actual observed rainfall in the past.
  3. The three models under consideration are: 12 global circulation models (dynamical) whose outputs would be combined into a single one; a model that gauges rainfall based on the sea surface temperature in the tropics and the statistical model based on climate variables observed during the pre-monsoon.

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