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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th AUGUST 2020

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  • August 19, 2020
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th AUGUST 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


PM-CARES entirely different from NDRF: SC

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Judiciary

In News:

Key takeaways 

  • SC has also held that individuals could make voluntary contributions to NDRF under Section 46(1)(b) of the Disaster Management Act of 2005.
  • There would be no statutory prohibition against them.
  • Government’s stand
    • It has maintained that PM-CARES is a public charitable trust to which anyone can contribute.
    • It is not subject to audit by the CAG. 
    • It is not under public scrutiny. 
    • Contributions to it are 100% tax free.

Important value additions 

Funds such as the NDRF, formed under Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act of 2005, are provided for by Central and State Budgets.


Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA-2020)

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Education

In News:

  • The Atal Rankings of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020 was released recently.
  • Results were based on following parameters:
    • Budget and funding support 
    • Infrastructure and facilities 
    • Awareness 
    • Promotions
    • Support for idea generation and innovation.
Top College/University Category
IIT Madras Institutes of National Importance, Central Universities, and Centrally Funded Technical Institutes
Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai Government and Government Aided Universities
College of Engineering, Pune Government and Government Aided Colleges
Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar Private or Self-Financed Universities
S R Engineering College, Warangal Private or Self-Financed Colleges
Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women special category for higher educational institutions for women

Important value additions 

Atal Rankings of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 

  • Initiative by: Ministry of HRD/Education 
  • Implemented by: AICTE and Ministry’s Innovation Cell, 
  • Aim: To systematically rank higher education institutions and universities in India on indicators related to Innovation, Start-up and Entrepreneurship Development amongst students and faculty.

Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge launched

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Innovation

In News:

  • Recently, “Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge- Innovate Solutions for #Aatmanirbhar Bharat” was launched 

Key takeaways 

  • Launched by: Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY)
  • Aim: 
    • To provide further impetus to the strong ecosystem of Start-up, innovation and research in the country.
    • To realize the ambition of self-reliance.
  • Indigenously developed microprocessors SHAKTI and VEGA have also been rolled out under the Microprocessor Development Programme.

Important value additions 

Microprocessor Development Programme

  • Aim: 
    • Meeting India’s future requirements of strategic and industrial sectors.
    • To mitigate the issues of security, licensing, technology obsolescence and cutting dependency on imports. 
  • It is a successful step to achieve the goal of vibrant ecosystem of Electronic System Design & Manufacturing in India.

Thalassemia Screening and Counselling Centre launched

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Health

In News:

  • Thalassemia Screening and Counselling Centre at Indian Red Cross Society’s National Headquarters (IRCS NHQ) Blood Bank, New Delhi was recently inaugurated.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Health & Family Welfare 

Important value additions 

Thalassemia

  • It is a type of Haemoglobinopathies. Sickle cell disease is another example.
  • It is an inherited disorders of red blood cells and 
  • It is preventable.
  • In India, Thalassemia Major (TM) and the severe form of Thalassemia Intermedia (TI) constitute the major burden of disease.
  • It is caused by inheritance of abnormal (beta) Thalassemia genes from both parents or abnormal beta-Thalassemia gene from one parent and abnormal variant haemoglobin gene (HbE, HbD) from the other parent.
  • India has the largest number of children with Thalassemia major in the world.
  • The only cure: Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT). 
    • It is difficult and not affordable by the parents of all these children.
  • Alternative treatment: Repeated blood transfusions, followed by regular iron chelation therapy to remove the excessive iron overload.

Umbrella Entity for Retail Payments unveiled by RBI

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In News:

  • Umbrella Entity for Retail Payments has been recently unveiled by RBI.

Key takeaways 

  • Eligibility: The companies with a net worth of over 500 crore rupees.
  • Such companies will set up an umbrella entity through which new payment systems in the retail space comprising ATMs, White Label PoS, Aadhaar-based payments  shall be set up and managed.
  • The entity will monitor national and international developments to avoid shocks and frauds.
  • The promoter group of the umbrella entity shall be owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens.

Data, AI may add up to $500 bn to GDP by 2025

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Artificial Intelligence; Technology

In News:

  • Recently, Nasscom report titled ‘Unlock Value from Data and AI: The Indian Opportunity’ was released.
  • Ministry associated: Ministry of Electronics and IT.
  • According to the report, Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) could add $450-$500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025 and contribute to the country’s economic recovery and growth.
  • Over the years, AI has become a strategic lever for economic growth across nations and will continue to be one of the most crucial technologies of the future.

African Cheetahs from South Africa brought to India

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Biodiversity; Environment

In News:

  • Recently, Mysuru zoo has become the second Indian zoo to house the African cheetah.
  • One male and two females from a cheetah conservation centre in South Africa under an animal-exchange programme were brought to India.
  • It was the country’s first international animal exchange post-COVID-19.

Important value additions 

Cheetah

  • It is the fastest land animal.
  • The Southeast African cheetah is native to East and Southern Africa. 
  • It lives mainly in the lowland areas and deserts of the Kalahari, the savannahs of Okavango Delta, and the grasslands of the Transvaal region in South Africa
  • In Namibia, cheetahs are mostly found in farmlands.
  • It is a vulnerable subspecies (IUCN status), due to poaching, habitat loss, and lack of prey.

Railways deploys ‘Ninjas’ for surveillance

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure – Railways

In News:

  • Recently, drone-based surveillance system has been installed to enhance security at railway stations, tracks and workshops.

Key takeaways 

  • Indian Railways recently procured Ninja Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV]. 
  • Features: 
    • Real-time tracking 
    • Video streaming 
    • Automatic fail safe mode,
  • Advantages:  
    • Enhanced monitoring of the railway assets
    • Additional safety for passengers.
  • Uses:
    • To launch surveillance on criminal and anti-social activities like gambling, throwing of garbage, hawking etc in Railway premises. 
    • Analysis of data collected which will be useful in vulnerable sections 
    • Rescue, recovery, restoration and coordinating efforts of various agencies and mapping of railway assets to assess encroachments at disaster sites.
  • A drone camera can cover a large area which requires 8-10 RPF personnel

Miscellaneous 

Map-based: Mali

Image source: Click here

  • Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa. 
  • Its capital is Bamako.
  • It borders Niger to the east, Ivory Coast to the south, Senegal to the west.
  • Most of it lies in the southern Sahara Desert. 
  • Some of Mali’s prominent natural resources include gold, being the third largest producer of gold in the African continent and salt.
  • It was recently in news because its President has announced his resignation amid a military coup. 

(MAINS FOCUS)


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Committee for Reforms in Criminal Law

Context: In July 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) constituted the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Law to undo the colonial foundations of our criminal law

Why there is a need to reform Criminal Laws?

  • Long Pending: The Indian Penal Code and its corollary laws, the Indian Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure, were all first enacted in the late 19th-century that have not undergone comprehensive revision
  • Colonial Hangover: IPC & CrPC were largely formalised to aid the colonial government in India, over 150 years ago. They are still rooted in colonial ideas despite amendments & judgements
  • Lacks Adequate recognition of Individual agency: IPC do not reflect the aspirations of a Constitution that gives primacy to liberty and equality. 
  • Still represent Victorian Morality: While it took 158 years for the courts to decriminalise homosexuality (section 377 of IPC) and adultery, there exists many provisions in the IPC that still echoes Victorian morality, which is especially true for women.
  • Ignorant of modern-age crimes: New crimes need to be defined and addressed in IPC, especially concerning technology and sexual offences. Ex: digital technology facilitating gambling and betting

Criticisms of the Committee

  1. Not designed for effective Broad-based Public Consultation Process
  • The exclusive route to participation is the Committee’s website. However, only about 40% of the population actively uses the Internet.
  • All the Committee’s documentation and background resources, including 89 reports of the Law Commission of India (LCI), are in English. Only 10% of the Indian population speaks English, and most such persons reside in urban areas.
  • The life cycle of the Committee coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevent marginalised groups to participate meaningfully in the public consultation process
  1. Composition of Committee is not representative enough
  • There appears to be no representation on the Committee from subaltern caste, gender, sexual, or religious groups, who are frequently let down by the criminal justice system
  • It appears there is no representation from working class or disabled communities
  • Also, there are no members on the Committee based outside of a limited geographic region in north India
  1. Opacity in Committee’s functioning
  • There are no published Terms of Reference
  • The precise mandate of the Committee has not been put into the public domain
  • There is nothing to explain why an ad hoc Committee was set up to deal with questions of law reform, that are typically entrusted to the Law Commission of India
  • The Committee has not undertaken to publish the representations it receives from the public during its consultation process.
  1. Short-duration for public consultation process
  • Within three months, respondents are expected to form and articulate reasoned opinions on almost every conceivable issue of criminal law, procedure or evidence. 
  • In contrast, the Malimath Committee, which had a comparable mandate, took five times as long as this Committee to submit its report.
  • The first of the current Committee’s six consultative questionnaires contains 46 questions with no formal documentation explaining the context and relevance of these questions.
  • All these diminishes the prospects of productive deliberation among stakeholders.

Conclusion

An inclusive, transparent and meaningful public consultation process for law-making is one practical way to implement a deliberative version of democracy.

Connecting the dots:

  • Charter Act of 1833 that established First law commission in 1834 under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay – recommendations led to drafting of IPC

INTERNATIONAL / SECURITY

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
  • India and its neighborhood- relations.

Abraham Accord: UAE-Israel peace agreement

Context: In a joint statement released by the US, Israel and the UAE, the leaders of the three countries agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and UAE.

The agreement that will be called the ‘Abraham Accord’ was brokered by US President Donald Trump.

What are the clauses of this agreement?

  • The deal states that UAE would recognise the state of Israel and establish formal diplomatic relations with it, while Israel would halt its controversial plan to annex swathes of the Palestinian West Bank. 
  • In the next few weeks, Israel and the UAE will finalise bilateral ties and cover areas of investment, tourism, security, technology, energy, environmental issues, and the establishment of embassies, in addition to other areas of cooperation. 
  • The joint statement mentioned that Israel and the UAE would also be “forging closer people-to-people relations”.
  • The statement also said that Israel will focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world, and that the US and UAE would be assisting it in achieving that goal.

Do You Know?

  • Except with Jordan and Egypt, Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab states owing to its long-standing conflict with Palestinians
  • Israel had signed peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994.
  • However, despite the absence of official diplomatic relations, Israel has been engaging with its neighbours with regard to issues like trade.

What are the politics behind this agreement?

  • Domestic Politics of Israel: PM Netanyahu, who has been facing mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak and is on trial for corruption, may be banking on this agreement to revive his image.
  • Domestics Politics of USA: This agreement brokered by US is seen as diplomatic win of President Trump ahead of the November elections, where he seeks re-election. His other foreign policy bets — Iran, North Korea or Afghanistan — were either disastrous or inconclusive.
  • Politics of UAE: The agreement further burnishes its international campaign to be seen as a beacon of tolerance in West Asia despite being governed by autocratic rulers.
  • To Alienate Iran: The agreement could pave the way for the region’s Sunni Arab kingdoms and the Jewish-majority Israel enhancing regional cooperation against their common foe, Shia Iran.

What do the Palestinians think about this?

  • Palestinians have long relied on Arab backing in their struggle for independence. T
  • his announcement marked both a win and setback.
    • It is a win as the deal halts Israeli annexation plans.
    • It is a setback as Palestinians have repeatedly urged Arab governments not to normalise ties with Israel until a peace agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state is reached.
  • Palestine contends that UAE has moved away from the Arab Peace Initiative: 
  • It is a Saudi Arabia initiative endorsed by the Arab League that offered recognition to Israel in exchange for its full withdrawal from the occupied territories (returning to pre-1967 borders)

Significance of the agreement

  • The agreement shows how the Arab countries are gradually decoupling themselves from the Palestine question
  • The deal buys UAE a lot of goodwill in the US, where its image has been tarnished by its involvement in the Yemen war
  • Other gulf states in the region like Bahrain and Oman could follow suit and sign similar agreements with Israel 
  • If the Arab states do fall in line, it would dramatically bring all Sunni nations in the region in an anti-Iran alliance with Israel
  • In South Asia, it will put Pakistan in a bind, whether to follow UAE’s steps (will be seen as giving up Islamic cause of Palestine) or not to follow UAE (since it is already in feud with the Saudis over not taking up Kashmir case, Pakistan cannot afford another hostile Islamic Country)

Conclusion

The Palestinian leadership, on its part, should understand the emerging reality in West Asia — the Arab-Israel conflict is coming to a close, but the Palestine-Israel conflict is to continue without any respite.

Connecting the dots:


(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 Consider the following statements:

  1. NDRF is managed by Central Budgets only.
  2. Contributions to PM-CARES Fund are 100% tax free.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2 Which of the following Ministry is responsible for launching Atal Rankings of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA)?

  1. Ministry of Science and Technology
  2. Ministry of HRD
  3. Ministry of Youth Affairs
  4. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

Q.3 Which of the following is/are possible treatments for children suffering from Thalassemia?

  1. Bone Marrow Transplantation 
  2. Repeated blood transfusions

Select the correct code:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWERS FOR 18th August 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 D
3 D
4
5 D
6 B

Must Read

About Sex selective abortions:

The Hindu

About resurrecting the right to know:

The Hindu

About Naga Peace Process:

The Indian Express

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