IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th February 2020
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Bar ‘shocked’ by Collegium decision
Part of: GS Prelims –Polity and GS-II- Judiciary
- The Collegium, led by Chief Justice of India recommended the transfer of Justice S. Muralidhar, who is third in the order of seniority in the Delhi High Court, along with two other transfer recommendations of judges.
From Prelims point of view:
- A system under which appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and Apex Court are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
- There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
- The recommendations of the Collegium are binding on the Central Government; if the Collegium sends the names of the judges/lawyers to the government for the second time.
Serum Institute hopes to offer COVID-19 vaccine
Part of: GS Prelims –Sci & Tech and GS-III- Health
- Serum Institute of India, Pune, may begin the human trials for a vaccine for COVID-19
From Prelims point of view:
- World Health Organisation (WHO) has named the new coronavirus disease as ‘Covid-19’.
- Taken from the words “corona”, “virus” and “disease”, with 2019
- The latest strain has been designated ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
Swachh Bharat Mission second phase
Part of: GS Prelims –Polity and GS-II- Govt Policy
- The Centre will begin implementing the second phase of its Swachh Bharat mission in rural areas
- Focusing on solid and liquid waste management and the sustainability of the abolition of open defecation.
- Budget for 2020-21 had allocated ₹9,994 crore for the first year of the mission’s Phase-II.
- Scheme will be implemented by the States, with a fund sharing pattern of 60:40 between the Centre and the States.
- In the north-eastern and Himalayan states, the Central share will be 90%.
From Prelims point of view:
Swachh Bharat Mission
- The Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) entered its fifth and final year of implementation.
- Aim to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2019, as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th Birth Anniversary.
- SBM is a demand-centric model.
- It focuses on behaviour change to generate demand for sanitation services by the rural population which is then followed by supply.
- Rural sanitation coverage from 39% in October 2014 to 95% in 2018.
- 8.7 crore household toilets have been constructed
- 93.4% of the households in rural India who have access to a toilet use it
Centre to form new law Commission
Part of: GS Prelims –Polity and GS-II- Law
In news :
- The Union Cabinet gave its approval to set up the 22nd Law Commission.
- The new panel, will have a three-year term. chairperson, four full-time members, Law and Legislative Secretaries in the Law Ministry will be ex-officio members of the commission.
- A retired Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of a High Court will head the commission.
From Prelims point of view:
- Advises the government on complex legal issues.
- The term of the previous law panel ended last August.
- Originally formed in 1955, the commission is reconstituted every three years and so far, 277 reports have been submitted to the government.
- Previous Law Commission, under Justice B.S. Chauhan (retd.), supported simultaneous elections.
- Law Commission of India is neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body, it is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India.
- The Commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.
Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill proposes national registry of clinics
Part of: GS Prelims –Sci & Tech and GS-II- Health
- Union Cabinet approved the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020
Bill proposes to:
- Monitor medical procedures used to assist people to achieve pregnancy.
- Provides for a national Board which will lay down a code of conduct to be observed by those operating clinics
- Formulate minimum standards for laboratory and diagnostic equipment and practices to be followed by human resources employed by clinics and banks.
- The States and Union Territories will also have to form State Boards and State authorities within three months of the notification of the proposed legislation.
Database: A national registry and registration authority will maintain a database to assist the national Board to perform its functions,
Punishment : Proposes stringent punishment for those who practise sex selection, indulge in sale of human embryos or gametes and those who operate rackets.
Privacy: Ensure confidentiality of intending couples and protect the rights of the child
Topic: General Studies 3:
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
LPG prices seen sharp rise
LPG prices which are revised on a monthly basis rose sharply in February, highest since Jan 2014.The rate for unsubsidised 14.2 kg cylinders rose by ₹144.50 -₹149 in metro cities
Comparison of Price rise
- Prior to this round, the government had raised LPG cylinder prices by ₹62, starting from August 2019 – Indicating less penchant for subsidy rationalisation
- However, the price had increased by only ₹82 over five years to mid-2019 – indicating retail price has been highly subsidised given the populist sentiment attached to it.
Who will the price rise affect?
- The price increase will affect retail consumers who have given up the subsidy.
- For those who avail subsidy, the increase would be mostly absorbed by the rise in subsidy. For Ujjwala consumers, the subsidy would go up from ₹174.86 to ₹312.48 per cylinder.
- Of the 27.76 crore retail consumers, 26.12 crore consumers avail LPG subsidy.
Implications for the broader economy
- At a time when consumer demand, in general, for goods and services in the country has slumped, more cash in the hands of the retail consumer may have helped spur demand
- Price rise of LPG sucks away even more disposable income from those consumers who pay market rates for LPG.
- As a result, household budgets are bound to go up, especially for those not availing the subsidy.
- The increase in LPG price could spur inflation even further. The January inflation metric was the highest since May 2014, when the figure was at 8.33%.
What influences LPG prices in India?
- Domestic prices of LPG are based on a formula — the import parity price (IPP), which is based on international LPG prices.
- Saudi Aramco’s LPG price acts as the benchmark for the IPP and includes the free-on-board price, ocean freight, customs duties, port dues and the like.
- This dollar-denominated figure is converted into rupees before local costs are added –bottling, marketing, margins for companies and tax
- This helps the government arrive at the retail selling price for LPG
The government resets the LPG price every month depending on international prices and the rupee-dollar exchange rate in the preceding weeks.
Reason for recent steep hike in LPG Prices
- Crude Oil prices tend to affect Saudi Armaco’s Propane price
- Owing to rise in crude oil prices in December and early January, Saudi Aramco had raised its propane prices to $565 per metric tonne in January ($440 a metric tonne in December)
- This increase in propane prices led to increase in LPG price hike in February
- However, the exchange rate been within the range of ₹71-₹72 to the dollar
What is the future outlook?
- The coronavirus (COVID-19) disease outbreak and fears of a global slowdown have pushed oil prices down through January, save for a few spikes.
- With international crude prices on the downtrend, it is plausible the LPG prices too would see a slump.
- Aramco has lowered its propane price for February to $505 per metric tonne.
- Assuming not much changes on exchange rate front, a softening of LPG prices in the domestic context may be expected.
Did You Know?
- LPG – a mix of propane and butane -is an energy-rich fuel source with a higher calorific value per unit than other commonly used fuels, including coal, natural gas, diesel, petrol.
- The carbon footprint of LPG is 20% lower than that of fuel oil and 50% lower than coal.
- LPG is non-toxic and has no impact on soil, water and underground aquifers
- It is used in transportation, in commercial business, industry, farming, domestic heating and cooking
Connecting the dots!
- PAHAL Scheme – direct cash transfer of subsidy for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) used in household cooking.
- Give it Up Campaign of LPG
Science & Tech
Topic: General Studies 3:
- Science & Technology – developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
- Awareness in the fields of IT
Domestic aircraft carrier Vistara will be the first to offer inflight Wi-Fi by March-end. As of now, only data services will be offered and voice calls could be introduced later
What is in-flight connectivity?
- In-flight connectivity essentially allows those onboard aircraft to access voice, video and data services after the aircraft has attained an altitude of 3,000 meters.
- In-flight connectivity for aircraft flying over Indian airspace was approved by the DoT in May 2018.
How does in-flight connectivity work?
- It relies on onboard antenna as well as satellites for Internet and mobile communications.
- Onboard Antenna
- Here, signals are picked from the nearest tower on the ground.
- However, the connection does become an issue after a certain altitude if the aircraft is passing over an area with no towers, say a large water body.
- Through Satellite
- It works in a manner similar to how satellite TV signals are transmitted.
- So, an onboard router, which connects to the plane’s antenna transmits data to a personal electronic device.
- The signals are then transmitted to ground station via satellites and is redirected to a billing server for calculation of the data consumption.
- Finally, the signal is relayed to the World Wide Web.
- While the telecom commission has allowed Internet services onboard, the telecom operator has said it will be made available when devices are used only on flight mode.
- Internet services, hence, could only be used through onboard WiFi as of now.
Cost of in-flight connectivity
- The airlines are free to decide the tariff, as the DoT has not regulated that aspect
- Globally, given the high cost of satellite connectivity, the internet services available onboard aircraft are charged at a premium over what is available otherwise
- The airlines will have to incur high cost of installing equipment, including the installation of antennae on aircraft, increased fuel cost due to extra weight- all these additional cost could find a way into ticket prices.
What about mobile communication Services?
- Even as the process to streamline broadband services onboard flights has been initiated, mobile communication on airlines (MCA) might still take time to be a reality.
- The TRAI, had, however, recommended that both broadband and MCA should be allowed over Indian airspace.
- Several stakeholders had raised concerns over providing MCA to passengers citing a complex regulatory framework with issues such as interference, roaming, and spectrum use.
- Also, with in-flight broadband connectivity allowing messaging services and voice calling, there is little requirement to speed up MCA
However, some of the challenges with regard to inflight connectivity includes
- Relatively slow speeds of Internet
- Security risks due to possible interference with flight communication systems.
- Expensive service which may increase the flight ticket price
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
- Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.
Q1. Consider the following statements:
- The mode of removal of a Judge of a High Court in India is same as that of removal of a Judge of the Supreme Court.
- After retirement from the office, a permanent judge of a High Court cannot plead or act in any court or before any authority in India.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q 2. Which of the following is an unusual feature of the replication cycle in coronaviruses?
- The RNAs all terminate in a common 3´ and produce nested set transcripts
- They take advantage of recombination with the long CGNA genome
- Both a & b
- They use capped cellular DNAs
Q 3. Which of the following coronaviruses has caused thousands of deaths around the world as an ’emergent’ virus?
ANSWERS FOR 19 FEB 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
About Indian Foreign Policy Strategy:
About decommissioned naval vessels:
About Political developments in Afghanistan: