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December 2, 2021
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1st December Current Affairs

Central bank digital currency (CBDC)

(GS-II: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights)

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India has been working on a phased implementation strategy for a CBDC and the pilot may be launched by the end of this year.

The financial advisory services firm has listed four major use cases of CBDC in the Indian context. This includes:

‘Fit-for-purpose’ money used for social benefits and other targeted payments in a country. For such cases, the central bank can pay intended beneficiaries pre-programmed CBDC, which could be accepted only for a specific purpose.

CBDCs could be used for faster cross-border remittance payments. International collaboration among the major economies of the world, including India, could help create the necessary infrastructure and arrangements for CBDC transfer and conversion.

Payment instruments could be made available for payment transactions to be made via CBDC. Furthermore, universal access attributes of a CBDC could also include an offline payment functionality.

Instant lending to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in India can be possible with the help of CBDC.

Need for CBDC:

An official digital currency would reduce the cost of currency management while enabling real-time payments without any inter-bank settlement.

India’s fairly high currency-to-GDP ratio holds out another benefit of CBDC — to the extent large cash usage can be replaced by CBDC, the cost of printing, transporting and storing paper currency can be substantially reduced.

The need for inter-bank settlement would disappear as it would be a central bank liability handed over from one person to another.

What is the CBDC or National Digital currency?

A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), or national digital currency, is simply the digital form of a country’s fiat currency. Instead of printing paper currency or minting coins, the central bank issues electronic tokens. This token value is backed by the full faith and credit of the government.

SC Garg Committee recommendations (2019):

Ban anybody who mines, hold, transact or deal with cryptocurrencies in any form.

It recommends a jail term of one to 10 years for exchange or trading in digital currency.

It proposed a monetary penalty of up to three times the loss caused to the exchequer or gains made by the cryptocurrency user whichever is higher.

However, the panel said that the government should keep an open mind on the potential issuance of cryptocurrencies by the Reserve Bank of India.

Challenges in rolling out National Digital Currency:

Potential cybersecurity threat.

Lack of digital literacy of the population.

Introduction of digital currency also creates various associated challenges in regulation, tracking investment and purchase, taxing individuals, etc.

Threat to Privacy: The digital currency must collect certain basic information of an individual so that the person can prove that he’s the holder of that digital currency.

Hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (HCNG)

(GS-III: Infrastructure- energy)

In News:

There is an increased push for adopting “Hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (HCNG).” This comes in the backdrop of India’s National Hydrogen Energy Mission in the works, which may mandate fertilizer, steel and petrochemicals industries to shift to green hydrogen use.

Background:

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has also developed specifications (IS 17314:2019) of Hydrogen enriched Compressed Natural Gas (H-CNG) for automotive purposes, as a fuel.

What is HCNG?

The blending of hydrogen with CNG provides a blended gas termed as HCNG.

It can be used in place of gasoline, diesel fuel and propane (C3H8) / LPG and its combustion produces fewer undesirable gases.

Advantages of HCNG:

  • HCNG reduces emissions of CO up to 70%.
  • Enables up to 5 % savings in fuel.
  • First step towards future Hydrogen economy.
  • Engines can be calibrated to release lower amounts of NO.
  • Engines need minimum modification to run on HCNG.
  • Ideal fuel for high load applications and heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Better performance due to higher Octane rating of H2.

Disadvantages of using HCNG:

  • Determining the most optimized H2/ NG (Natural Gas) ratio.
  • It requires new infrastructures for preparing HCNG.
  • Many steps need to be taken for commercializing it at a large scale.
  • Current cost of H2 is more than the cost of Natural Gas. So, HCNG’s cost is more than CNG.

Veer Savarkar

(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues)

In News:

Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Uday Mahurkar recently said the era of V D Savarkar, known as the architect of Hindutva ideology, has already set in in India and that his personality is above Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour.

What’s the issue?

A quote attributed to Savarkar has been going around in academic circles which shows that Savarkar supported Jinnah’s two nation theory.

However experts are of the opinion that while Jinnah wanted partition, Savarkar wanted Territorial Integrity of India.

Jinnah wanted minority representation while Savarkar wanted Majority rule.

Jinnah wanted residuary powers to reside in the provinces but Savarkar wanted them to reside in Centre.

Jinnah wanted reservation in recruitment to civil/public service while Savarkar wanted merit to be the sole criterion.

Who is Veer Savarkar?

Born on May 28, 1883 in Bhagur, a city in Maharashtra’s Nashik.

Nationalism and social reforms:

Formed a youth organization- Mitra Mela, this organization was put into place to bring in national and revolutionary ideas.

He was against foreign goods and propagated the idea of Swadeshi.

He championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved orthodox Hindu belief. In fact, he even dismissed cow worship as superstitious.

He also Worked on abolishment of untouchability in Ratnagiri. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar also compared his work to Lord Buddha.

Vinayak Savarkar was a president of Hindu Mahasabha from 1937 to 1943.

When congress ministries offered resignation on 22nd oct 1939, Hindu mahaasabha under his leadership cooperated with Muslim league to form government in provinces like Sindh, Bengal and NWFP.

In Pune, Savarkar founded the “Abhinav Bharat Society”.

He joined Tilak’s Swaraj Party.

He founded the Free India Society. The Society celebrated important dates on the Indian calendar including festivals, freedom movement landmarks, and was dedicated to furthering discussion about Indian freedom.

He believed and advocated the use of arms to free India from the British and created a network of Indians in England, equipped with weapons.

Important works:

  • Book- The History of the war of Indian Independence.
  • An armed revolt against the Morley-Minto reform.
  • Two-nation theory in his book ‘Hindutva’.

“Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS)” scheme

(GS-III: Environment related issues)

In News:

Cabinet committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a scheme called Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS) to be continued for next five years.

What will the citizens achieve from the successful roll-on of this scheme?

With improved forecasts, it will be easy for predicting the timings, intensity, frequency of disasters like cyclones, heat waves, thunderstorms, excessive rainfall etc., that is progressively growing uncertain with increasing climate change.

Increasing programmes will drive the employment benefits and provide the much-needed opportunities to learn in a sphere that remains neglected for long.

It will provide an impetus to utilizing the sizable number of scientific and technical talents available therein, along with most vital administrative support for sustaining the same.

ACROSS Scheme:

ACROSS scheme pertains to the atmospheric science programs of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).

It addresses different aspects of weather and climate services, which includes warnings for cyclone, storm surges, heat waves, thunderstorms etc.

Each of these aspects is incorporated as nine sub-schemes under the umbrella scheme “ACROSS” and is implemented in an integrated.

ACROSS is an umbrella scheme with eight sub-schemes encompassing the programmes for greater understanding of atmospheric science. These eight master schemes are as follows:

  • Commissioning of Polarimetric Doppler Weather Radars (DWRs).
  • Upgradation of Forecast System, Weather & Climate Services.
  • Atmospheric Observations Network.
  • Numerical Modelling of Weather and Climate.
  • Monsoon Mission III.
  • Monsoon Convection.
  • Clouds and Climate Change (MC4).
  • High Performance Computing System (HPCS).

Benefits of the Scheme:

The scheme will provide improved weather, climate and   ocean   forecast  and services, thereby ensuring transfer of commensurate benefits to the various services.

It will also provide a sizable number of scientific and technical staff along with requisite administrative support, thereby generating employment.

To ensure last-mile connectivity of the weather based services to the end -user, a large number of agencies like the Krishi Vigyana Kendras of ICAR, Universities and local municipalities are roped in thus generating employment opportunities to many people.