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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th MAY 2020

  • IASbaba
  • May 27, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th May 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Tianwen-1: China’s first Mars mission

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Space; Science and Technology

In News:

  • In July, China will launch its first Mars mission, the ‘Tianwen-1’. 
  • It is expected to land on Mars in the first quarter of 2021.

Key takeaways

  • Tianwen-1 is an all-in-one orbiter, lander and rover. 
  • It will search the Martian surface for water, ice, investigate soil characteristics, and study the atmosphere. 
  • The Tianwen-1 mission will lift off on a Long March 5 rocket. 
  • If the mission is successful, China will become the third country to achieve a Mars landing after the USSR and the United States.
  • Around the same time in July, NASA will also launch its own Mars mission– ‘Perseverance’. 
  • It aims to collect Martian samples and bring them back to Earth in a two-part campaign.

Kheer Bhawani Mela gets cancelled amidst COVID-19 pandemic 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-I – Culture

In News:

  • The Annual Kheer Bhawani Mela was cancelled recently because of COVID-19 pandemic in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Important value additions 

Kheer Bhawani Mela

  • It is an Annual Festival celebrated by Kashmiri Pandits. 
  • The devotees of the Goddess Mata Kheer Bhawani fast and gather here on the day of “Zeshta Ashtami,” the eighth day of the full moon in the month of May/June. 
  • According to belief, the Goddess changes the colour of the spring’s waters during this month. 
  • Ragyna Devi Temple in Tulmulla Ganderbal village, near Srinagar (J&K) is popularly known as “Mata Kheer Bhawani temple”. 
  • The temple is dedicated to the Goddess kheer Bhawani. 
  • The term kheer refers to rice pudding that is offered in the spring located in the temple to Please the Goddess.
  • This is the most important temple for Kashmiri Pandits.

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th MAY 2020

Image source: Click here 


‘Heatwave to severe heatwave’ conditions forecasted in India 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-I – Geophysical phenomenon

In News:

  • Recently, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasted the heatwave to severe heatwave conditions over northwest, central and adjoining peninsular India. 
  • Increase in temperatures was observed in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra as well, triggering heatwave conditions
  • The heat wave was due to dry northwesterly winds present over northwest and central India.

Important value additions 

Heat wave

  • It is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western and South Central parts of India.
  • Heat waves typically occur between March and June
  • Heat wave is declared under these circumstances:
    • An increase of 5°C to 6°C when the normal maximum temperature is less than or equal to 40°C. 
    • An increase of 7°C or more from the normal temperature is considered as severe heat wave condition.
    • An increase of 4°C to 5°C when the normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C. 
    • An increase of 6°C or more is considered as severe heat wave condition. 
    • If the actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature. 

CoAST India launched to monitor the movements of migrants

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – E-Governance

In News:

  • India Observatory has come up with a Geographic Information System (GIS)-enabled dashboard called Collaboration/Covid Action Support Group (CoAST India) to monitor the movements of migrants.

Key takeaways 

  • The CoAST India dashboard includes an India map, which will show the movement of migrants in real time, often on foot. 
  • Facilities and relief organisations on their routes will also be shown.
  • Such data can be used by governments and small local civil society groups for planning and providing assistance to migrants.
  • The dashboard has been made in collaboration with Foundation for Ecological Security (FES).

Important value additions 

India Observatory 

  • It was set up in December 2019, with FES. 
  • It focuses mainly on ecological issues about forests, water bodies, conservation, etc.
  • It is freely available for civil society organizations, students, government departments and citizens.

Geographic Information System (GIS) 

  • A GIS is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface.
  • GIS can help individuals and organizations better understand spatial patterns and relationships.
  • GIS can use any information that includes location. 
  • GIS can include data about people, information about the sites of factories, farms, and schools, or storm drains, roads, and electric power lines etc.

Foundation for Ecological Security

  • The Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) is a registered non-profit organisation based in Anand, Gujarat.
  • It works towards the ecological restoration and conservation of land and water resources in ecologically fragile, degraded and marginalised regions of the country.

Miscellaneous 

APOE

  • A new study has found a link between the severity of Covid-19 and a gene linked to dementia. 
  • The gene is called APOE. 
  • It exists in different forms, one of which is termed e4e4
  • The team found that people with the APOE e4e4 genotype were at double the risk of developing severe Covid-19, compared to those with the common e3e3 form of the APOE gene. 
  • APOE (Apolipoprotein E) is a Protein Coding gene. 
  • APOE transports lipids, fat-soluble vitamins, and cholesterol into the lymph system and then into the blood. 

(MAINS FOCUS)


JUDICIARY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 

A time for reform in courts

Context: The pandemic has affected the functioning of courts and tribunals. 

Courts during COVID-19 pandemic

  • The judiciary has limited its work to hearing urgent matters via video conferencing.
  • This experience has provided an opportunity to improve IT infrastructure of courts so that they can move to video conference hearings as the norm.
  • However, any such move without first revamping procedural law would be futile.

What procedural changes have to be made?

  1. Changes in Listing of cases in subordinate civil courts and High Courts
    • A significant time of daily proceedings is taken up by cases where only adjournments are sought for procedural matters like filing of replies.
    • This system can be done away with.
    • Also, a system needs to be devised where cases are not listed before the court unless all the documents are filed within strict timelines and every procedural requirement complied with.
    • Additionally, there has to be circulation of cases to be listed in advance (two weeks before hearing) which will give advocates enough time to take instructions from clients and prepare for arguments.
  1. Supreme Court amending the provisions pertaining to Special Leave Petitions (SLPs)
    • Article 136 of the Constitution enables people to file a SLP in SC against any decision of any judicial or quasi-judicial authority. 
    • SC grants leave to appeal through A-136, if the petition raises a question of law of general public importance, or if the judgment appealed against is perverse that requires interference from it.
    • SLPs has been abused over the years leading to increased burden on SC (SLPs comprise about 60-70% of the Supreme Court’s docket)
    • 80-90% of SLPs are dismissed, which means only 10-20% of such cases raise important questions of law
    • A simple solution would be to do away with immediate oral hearing of SLPs and instead provide for a structure of pre-hearing of SLPs

What can be the structure for pre-hearing of SLPs?

  • Every SLP must be accompanied by an application for oral hearing which must be decided first by the Court, and that too in chambers. 
  • To assist the Court for that, a cadre of judicial research assistants made up of qualified lawyers should be created. 
  • Thereafter, the Court may or may not allow applications for oral hearings based on whether the case deals with important questions of law. 
  • Only such SLPs in which oral hearing is permitted should be listed for hearing.
  • SLPs in which no questions of law are raised, or frivolous ones are raised, should be dismissed without oral hearing and upon imposition of costs. 
  • This would reduce pendency exponentially as the system will free up the Court’s time to hear matters pertaining to interpretation of the Constitution

Conclusion

Without procedural changes in how courts function, mere modernization through enabling video-conferencing facilities will not lead to radical change in judiciary

Connecting the dots:

  • Tribunalization of Judiciary
  • Judicial Appointments and transfers – challenges associated with it

GOVERNANCE/ FEDERALISM/ ECONOMY

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources

Lessons for One Nation One Ration Card

Context: The economic crisis precipitated by COVID-19 has focussed the country’s attention on inter-state migrants and the need portable welfare benefits.

Did You Know?

  • Portable welfare benefits mean that a citizen should be able to access welfare benefits irrespective of where she is in the country. 
  • In the case of food rations, the idea was first mooted by a Nandan Nilekani-led task force in 2011. 
  • 45.36 crore people or 37% of the population is that of migrant labourers.

What is One Nation One Ration Card (ON-ORC)?

  • The scheme seeks to provide portability of food security benefits all across the nation.
  • Families who have food security cards can buy subsidized food from any ration shop in the country. 
  • Ration cards should be linked with Aadhar Number to avail this service. 
  • It was started in mid-2019 with pilot project in 4 states and was supposed to be rolled-out across country by June 2020
  • However, the government has extended the deadline of March 2021 in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

What are the challenges with ON-ORC?

  • First, the fiscal implications: ON-ORC will affect how the financial burden is shared between states. 
  • Second, the larger issues of federalism and inter-state coordination: Many states are not convinced about a “one size fits all” regime.
  • This is because States have customised the PDS through higher subsidies, higher entitlement limits, and supply of additional items. 
  • Third, the technology aspect: ON-ORC requires a complex technology backbone that brings over 750 million beneficiaries, 5,33,000 ration shops and 54 million tonnes of food-grain annually on a single platform.

Learning from GST to resolve above challenges of ON-ORC

  1. About Fiscal Challenges – Compensation to States
    • Fiscal concerns had troubled GST from the start Ex: States like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat that are “net exporters” were concerned they would lose out on tax revenues to “net consumer” states like UP and Bihar
    •  Finally, the Centre had to step in and provide guaranteed compensation for lost tax revenues for the first five years
    • The Centre could provide a similar assurance to “net inbound migration” states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka that any additional costs on account of migrants will be covered by it for the five years.
  1. Issues of Federalism- Creation of inter-state council
    • In the spirit of cooperative federalism, the central government created a GST council consisting of the finance ministers of the central and state governments to address the issues of inter-state coordination
    • The government could consider a similar national council for ON-ORC. 
    • To be effective, this council should meet regularly, have specific decision-making authority, and should operate through consensus building.
  1. Technology Aspect – A special Vehicle for faster implementation
    • GST is supported by a sophisticated tech backbone, housed by the GST Network (GSTN), an entity jointly owned by the Centre and states.
    • The Nilekani-led task force recommended setting up of a PDS network (PDSN) 
    • PSDN would track movement of rations, register beneficiaries, issue ration cards, handle grievances and generate analytics.
    • Such a platform should incorporate principles such as inclusion, privacy, security, transparency, and accountability. 
  1. Learning from the shortcomings and challenges of the GST rollout. 
    • Delay in GST refunds led to cash-flow issues. Similar delays in receiving food rations could be catastrophic
    • Compliance burden for MSMEs during GST implementation. Likewise, PDS dealers need to be brought on board with adequate training

Conclusion

If done well, ON-ORC could lay the foundation of a truly national and portable benefits system that includes other welfare programmes like LPG subsidy and social pensions. 

Connecting the dots:

  • Cooperative Federalism and Competitive Federalism
  • Direct Tax Code

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • 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”.

Q.1 APOE gene is associated with which of the following disease? 

  1. Dementia 
  2. Down syndrome 
  3. Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome 
  4. COVID-19

Q.2 CoAST India was recently launched for which of the following purpose? 

  1. To track the covid-19 patients in coastal regions of India. 
  2. To track the movements of migrants on foot.
  3. To track the development of possible vaccines against COVID-19. 
  4. To track the distribution of food packages to the poor people.

Q.3 Which of the following conditions are ideal for declaring heat wave or heat wave condition in a region?

  1. An increase of 5°C to 6°C when the normal maximum temperature is less than or equal to 40°C. 
  2. An increase of 7°C or more from the normal temperature is considered as severe heat wave condition.
  3. An increase of 4°C to 5°C when the normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C. 
  4. An increase of 6°C or more is considered as severe heat wave condition.

Select the correct code:

  1. 1 and 4 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q.4 Ragyna Devi Temple is situated in which of the following state of India? 

  1. Rajasthan 
  2. Gujarat 
  3. Himachal Pradesh 
  4. Jammu and Kashmir

Q.5 Tianwen-1, which was recently in news, is the first Mars mission of which of the following country? 

  1. China 
  2. Japan 
  3. Singapore 
  4. Vietnam

ANSWERS FOR 26th May 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 A
3 C
4 B
5 C

Must Read

About rise in excise duty on fuel:

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