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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 28th AUGUST 2020

  • IASbaba
  • August 28, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


V.Ramagopal Rao Committee constituted

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

In News:

  • A five-member expert committee has been constituted by the Chairman of DRDO.
  • Objective: To review and redefine the charter of duties for all laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). 
  • Focus: Indigenous development of futuristic technologies. 
  • Head of the committee: Professor V. Ramagopal Rao, Director, IIT, Delhi.

DoPPW to integrate e- Pension Payment order with Digi Locker

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Policies and Interventions; GS-III – Technology; IT

In News:

  • The Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW), Ministry of Personnel Public Grievances and Pension, has decided to integrate the electronic Pension Payment Order (e-PPO) with Digi Locker. 
  • Objective: To enhance Ease of Living of Central Government Civil Pensioners.

Key takeaways 

  • It will enable any Pensioner to obtain an instant print-out of the latest copy of their PPO from their Digi Locker account. 
  • A permanent record of their respective PPO in their Digi Locker shall be created. 
  • Delays in reaching the PPO to new pensioners and the necessity of handing over a physical copy will be eliminated. 
  • ‘Bhavishya’ software was used to create the facility. 
  • It is a single window platform for Pensioners right from the start to the end of their Pension processing. 

Important value additions 

DigiLocker 

  • It is a secured online locker repository.
  • It provides a platform to accumulate all important documents at one place. 
  • It is a Government website. 
  • Aadhar card, PAN card, Passport, Driving License and school and college certificates can be stored. 

Draft Health Data Management policy released in the public domain

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Policies and Interventions; Health

In News:

  • The National Health Authority (NHA) has released the Draft Health Data Management Policy in the public domain.
  • The policy is part of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). 

Key takeaways 

  • The Draft Policy is the maiden step in realizing NDHM’s guiding principle of “Security and Privacy by Design” for the protection of individuals’ data privacy.
  • Data collected across the National Digital Health Ecosystem (NDHE) will be stored in at the central level, the state or Union Territory level and at the health facility level, by adopting the principle of minimality at each point. 
  • It encompasses various aspects pertaining to health data like data privacy, consent management, data sharing and protection.

Important value additions 

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). 

  • It was announced by Prime Minister on the occasion of 74th Independence Day. 
  • The National Health Authority (NHA) has been mandated to design and roll out NDHM in the country.
  • NHA is also responsible for the implementation of Ayushman Bharat 

Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2020 released

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

In News:

  • Released by: NITI Aayog and the Institute of Competitiveness. 
  • It is the first report to examine export preparedness and performance of Indian states. 
  • Objective: To identify challenges and opportunities; enhance the effectiveness of government policies; and encourage a facilitative regulatory framework.
  • The structure of the EPI includes 4 pillars: Policy; Business Ecosystem; Export Ecosystem; Export Performance.

Key takeaways 

  • Indian states scored average 50% in sub-pillars of Exports Diversification, Transport Connectivity, and Infrastructure. 
  • Overall, most of the Coastal States are the best performers. 
  • Top Coastal States: Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu 
  • Top landlocked states: Rajasthan, Telangana and Haryana.
  • Top Himalayan states: Uttarakhand, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Top Union Territories: Delhi, Goa and Chandigarh.

Pulikkali

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-I – Art and culture

In News:

  • It is a recreational folk art and a colourful part of Onam celebrations in Thrissur, Kerala. 
  • It will be an online-only affair this year due to COVID-19.
  • Onam is an annual harvest festival. 
  • In Pulikkali, performers painted like tigers and hunters in bright yellow, red, and black dance to the beats of instruments like Udukku and Thakil.
  • The performance revolves around the theme of tiger hunting.
  • Pulikkali was introduced in Thrissur by Shakthan Tampuran two centuries ago

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) – Transport Initiative for Asia (TIA)

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – International Relations; Global Groupings & GS-III – Infrastructure

In News:

  • India Component of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)–Transport Initiative for Asia (TIA) has been recently launched. 
  • Launched by: NITI Aayog 
  • Aim: To promote a comprehensive approach to decarbonize transport in India, Vietnam, and China.

Key takeaways 

  • NDC–TIA is a joint programme.
  • Supported by: International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). 
  • Implemented by: Consortium of seven different organisations. 
  • The NDC-TIA programme has a duration of 4 years.

The NDC–TIA India Component will focus on:

  • Strengthening GHG and transport modelling capacities
  • Providing technical support on GHG emission reduction measures
  • Financing climate actions in transport
  • Offering policy recommendations on electric vehicle (EV) demand and supply policies etc.

Sri Lanka to Draft a New Constitution

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – International Relations

In News:

  • Sri Lanka will draft a new Constitution and abolish the 19th Amendment. 
  • The Amendment curtailed the powers of the President and strengthened the role of Parliament. 
  • Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) has won a landslide victory in the recently held parliamentary elections (August 2020). 

Important value additions 

19th Amendment

  • It was passed in 2015.
  • It sought to clip the President’s executive powers. 
  • It also strengthened independence of key pillars such as the judiciary, public service and election. 
  • nsIt brought back the two-term limit on Presidency.
  • It was hailed by many, including members of civil society, as a progressive legislation. 
  • Sri Lanka’s constitution has been changed 19 times from 1978, creating a lot of uncertainties and confusion

Boundary Working Group: India-Nepal

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – International Relations

In News:

  • Recently, it has been reported that Nepal has proposed a meeting of the Boundary Working Group (BWG) in August end or early September 2020.

Important value additions 

Boundary Working Group (BWG)

  • It is a joint agency constituted by the governments of India and Nepal in 2014. 
  • Objective: To carry out works in the fields of construction, restoration and repair of boundary pillars including clearance of ‘no-man’s land’ and other technical tasks.
  • Led by: The Surveyor General of India. 
  • The BWG is different from the foreign secretaries meeting that is being sought to discuss the Kalapani border dispute. 
  • It is an important mechanism to review the boundary work. 
  • The BWG’s inputs are critical as they are given to the governments on the basis of field-level survey.

Miscellaneous

WHO declares Africa free of polio

  • WHO has declared Africa free of polio recently.

  • A WHO commission has certified that no cases had occurred on the continent for the past four years, the threshold for eradication of poliovirus.
  • Poliovirus now joins smallpox in the list of viruses that have been wiped out in Africa.

New circles of Archaeological survey of India announced 

  • 7 new circles of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have been announced.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Culture. 
  • New circles: Trichy (Tamil Nadu), Raiganj (West Bengal), Rajkot (Gujarat), Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh) & Meerut (Uttar Pradesh). 
  • Hampi Mini Circle has been converted into a full-fledged circle.
  • Earlier there were 29 ASI circles across the country.

(MAINS FOCUS)


EDUCATION / GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Issues relating to development and management of Education 

On JEE-NEET during the pandemic

Context: Conducting Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) amid a pandemic is not easy, but options are limited

About NEET & JEE

  • The NEET is the only gateway for MBBS/BDS admissions in the country. 
  • JEE Main is for students aspiring to pursue undergraduate courses in top engineering institutes in India
  • JEE is not mandatory for State government-run and private institutions.
  • Both JEE & NEET is conducted by National Testing Agency

Dilemmas faced by Union Education Ministry

  • Sustaining a merit-based admission process (through conducting exams)
  • Ensuring physical and emotional well-being of aspirants during COVID-19 times and thus the pressure of postponing exams
  • Limiting the academic disruption caused due to pandemic

Supreme Court on conducting these exams: When petitions were filed to postpone the exams, SC declined to interfere with the conduct of the two common entrance tests.

Arguments in favour of Conducting Exams

  • Support of Judiciary: From an academic perspective, the Supreme Court has observed that the career of students “cannot be put in peril for long”.
  • Support of Parent/Students: A “silent majority” favours the exams as an overwhelming number of registered candidates have downloaded their admit cards.
  • Support by Academics: Directors of several IITs have expressed concern that further delay could lead to a “zero academic year” and any quick alternative to the crucial exams will dilute the quality of education 

Arguments against conducting exams

  • Fear of contracting COVID-19 from examination centres: The NEET will be conducted in 3,843 centres across 155 cities, whereas the number of applicants is about 15.97 lakh. 
  • Practical Challenges: With many States not resuming public transport services and hotels remaining closed, travel and accommodation for candidates from interior regions is a major challenge
  • Disproportionately impact Girls’ prospects of Higher Education: Social and cultural pressures are such that girls from villages and tier-3 towns are likely to face hurdles as travelling alone would not be encouraged under these unusual circumstances.

Way Ahead

  • The government must explore alternatives such as allowing States to conduct medical admissions based on Class XII Board marks using standard normalisation. 
  • NEET could be limited to central institutions.
  • The examination slots could be staggered and the number of centres increased drastically.

Connecting the dots:


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE/ SOCIETY

Topic: General Studies 1,2:

  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.
  • Social Empowerment 

The ‘quota within quota’ debate

Context: A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the legal debate on sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for reservations, or what is commonly referred to as “quota within quota” for SCs and STs.

The Constitution treats all Schedule Castes as a single homogeneous group.

Special quotas framed by some states

  • In Tamil Nadu, a 3% quota within the SC quota is accorded to the Arundhatiyar caste, after the Justice M S Janarthanam report stated that despite being 16% of the SC population in the state, they held only 0-5% of the jobs
  • In 2000, the Andhra Pradesh legislature passed a law reorganising 57 SCs into sub-groups and split the 15% SC quota in educational institutions and government jobs in proportion to their population. However, this law was declared unconstitutional in 2005 E V Chinnaiah Case
  • Punjab too has had laws that gave preference to Balmikis and Mazhabi Sikhs within the SC quota;

Can States declare a caste as Schedule Caste?

  • In the 2005 decision in E V Chinnaiah v State of Andhra Pradesh and Others, the Supreme Court ruled that only the President has the power to notify the inclusion or exclusion of a caste as a Scheduled Caste, and states cannot tinker with the list. 
  • Andhra Pradesh had submitted that the law was enacted as states had the power to legislate on the subject of education, and reservation in admission fell within its legislative domain. The court, however, rejected this argument.

What are the grounds for sub-categorisation?

  1. Inequality within Scheduled Castes as benefits have not trickled down
  • States have argued that among the SCs, there are some castes that remain grossly under-represented despite reservation in comparison to other Scheduled Castes
  • Thus, the benefits of reservation have not trickled down to the “weakest of the weak” and this calls for sub-categorisation
  1. Concept of Creamy Layer
  • The “creamy layer” concept puts an income ceiling on those eligible for reservation. 
  • While this concept applies to OBC, it was applied to promotions of SCs for the first time in 2018 in in Jarnail Singh v Lachhmi Narain Gupta case
  • The central government has sought a review of the 2018 verdict and the case is currently pending
  1. Sub-categorisation does not violate Article 341
  • In the E V Chinnaiah case in 2005, Supreme court had held that merely giving preference does not tinker, rearrange, subclassify, disturb or interfere with the list in any manner since there is no inclusion or exclusion of any caste in the list as notified under Article 341.
  1. Does not Violate Right to Equality
  • Sub-categorisation would achieve equitable representation of all SCs in government service and would being about “real equality” or “proportional equality”.

What are the arguments against Sub-Categorisation?

  • The test or requirement of social & educational backwardness cannot be applied to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The special treatment is given to the SCs due to untouchability with which they suffer. 
  • In a 1976 case, State of Kerala v N M Thomas, the Supreme Court laid down that “Scheduled Castes are not castes, they are class.”
  • Integrity of President’s SC list will be endangered as such decisions will be made to appease one vote-bank or the other.

Conclusion

  • The objective of reservation is to ensure that all backward classes march hand in hand and that will not be possible if only a select few get all the coveted services of the government.
  • The constitutional goal of social transformation cannot be achieved without taking into account changing social realities

(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 Pulikali will be an online only affair due to Covid-19. Consider the following regarding the same: 

  1. It is a part of Onam festival.
  2. It revolves around the theme of tiger hunting. 
  3. Onam is an annual harvest festival celebrated in Tamilnadu.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.2 Recently Electronic Pension Payment order was integrated with Digilocker. Consider the following: 

  1. Bhavishya software was used to create the facility. 
  2. Direct print out of the pension order can be easily taken out through the integration.
  3. Digilocker is a platform to store all important documents at one place. 

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Export Preparedness Index 2020:

  1. It was recently released by NITI Aayog. 
  2. To enhance the effectiveness of government policies is one of the objectives of the Index. 
  3. Tamil Nadu is the top coastal state in the index. 

Which of the above is or are correct?

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

Q.4 Which of the following is not a part of the new circles recently announced by Archaeological Survey of India? 

  1. Rajkot 
  2. Jabalpur 
  3. Meerut 
  4. Nashik

ANSWERS FOR 27th August 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 D
3 D

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