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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th SEPTEMBER 2020

  • IASbaba
  • September 16, 2020
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th SEPTEMBER 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2020 passed

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news

  • Recently, Indian Parliament has passed the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2020 and the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill.

Key takeaways

The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2020 

  • It seeks to repeal the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973.
  • National Commission for Homoeopathy will also be set up.
  • Composition of the Commission: 20 members including a Chairperson, the President of the Homoeopathy Education Board, the Director General of National Institute of Homoeopathy, the President of the Medical Assessment and Rating Board for Homoeopathy in addition to other members.

The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2020 

  • It seeks to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970.
  • National Commission for Indian System of Medicine will also be set up.
  • Composition of the Commission: 29 members including a Chairperson, the President of the Board of Ayurveda, President of the Board of Unani, Siddha, and Sowa-Rigpa.

Do you know?

  • The two bills also propose constitution of Advisory Councils for Homoeopathy as well as for Indian System of Medicine. 
  • These Councils will be the primary platform through which the states and union territories will put forth their views and concerns before the two Commissions.
  • The Councils will also suggest measures to the Commission to determine and maintain standards of medical education in the country.
  • The bills also envisage a National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to both undergraduate and Post-Graduate courses of Homoeopathy and for various disciplines of Indian System of Medicine.

The discovery of phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Space

In news

  • Recently, phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus was discovered by an international team of astronomers.
  • The discovery throws light about the possibility of the presence of life forms on Venus.

Key takeaways

  • A team of scientists have reported traces of phosphine in a concentration of approximately 20 parts per billion, thousands to millions of times more than what could otherwise be expected.
  • The discovery is more significant than the discovery of water on the Moon or Mars.
  • The finding can further ignite interest in space missions to Venus. 
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is also planning a mission to Venus, tentatively called Shukrayaan, in the near future. 
  • The plan is still on the drawing board.

Do you know?

  • There are several things that make life unsustainable on Venus. 
  • The temperature of Venus is too high.
  • Its atmosphere is highly acidic.
  • However, Scientists also suggest that this phosphine could be remnants from a time when Venus was a much more hospitable place.
  • Apart from being produced in industrial processes, phosphine, a colourless but smelly gas, is known to be made only by some species of bacteria that survive in the absence of oxygen.

Sanskrit Grams Programme: Uttarakhand

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Education; Policies and Intetventions

In news

  • The Uttarakhand Government has decided to develop ‘Sanskrit Grams’ across the state.
  • Aim: To teach people to use Sanskrit regularly.

Key takeaways

  • Several villages were selected according to the availability of Sanskrit schools so that teachers may visit the villages often and motivate residents to learn and use Sanskrit.
  • Villages were selected at the meeting of the Uttarakhand Sanskrit Academy, chaired by the Uttarakhand Chief Minister.
  • The Academy shall also be renamed as Uttaranchal Sanskrit Sansthanam Haridwar, Uttarakhand.
  • Focus: School-going children so that they can learn the language from a young age.

Do you know?

  • Sanskrit is the second official language in Uttarakhand after Hindi.
  • Article 345 of the Constitution deals with the Official language or languages of a State.

5th BRICS Culture Ministers’ Meet held

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

In news

  • The 5th BRICS Culture Ministers’ Meeting was held through a video conference.
  • Chairmanship: Russian Federation.

Key takeaways

  • Impact of the Covid-19 situation on the cultural sphere in the BRICS countries was discussed.
  • Possible implementation of joint cultural online-projects within BRICS was reviewed.
  • India also suggested exploring possibilities of hosting a Digital Online Exhibition on a shared theme towards the end of 2021 under the auspices of BRICS Alliance of Museums.
  • The National Gallery of Modern Arts, New Delhi will host the BRICS Joint Exhibition titled ‘Bonding Regions & Imagining Cultural Synergies’ under the auspices of the BRICS Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries in 2021.

Important value additions

BRICS

  • BRICS is an association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • All are members of G20.
  • Represent over 3.1 billion people, 41% of the world population.
  • As of 2018, BRICS have US $40.55 trillion (32% of World’s GDP PPP). 
  • Bilateral relations among BRICS nations are conducted on the basis of non-interference, equality, and mutual benefit.
  • There are two components that make up the financial architecture of BRICS: (1) New Development Bank (NDB) (BRICS Development Bank); (2) Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA).

Do you know?

  • The chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • During the Sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza (Brazil) in 2014, the leaders signed the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank (NDB – Shanghai, China). 
  • They also signed the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement to provide short-term liquidity support to the members.

Bradykinin Storm phenomenon amongst Covid-19 patients

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health; Pandemic & GS-III – Science & Technology

In news

  • A recent analysis of samples of patients with the Covid-19 infection has shown a phenomenon called a ‘bradykinin storm’.
  • Doctors treating Covid-19 patients often cannot identify the severity with which the SARS-CoV-2 virus seems to affect some people. 
  • ‘Bradykinin storm’ might explain the working of the virus in the body.
  • However, the cytokine storm is able to explain certain causes for the rapid deterioration in some patients with Covid-19.

Important value additions

The bradykinin hypothesis

  • SARS-CoV-2 uses a human enzyme called ACE2 to enter into the cells of its host.
  • ACE2 lowers blood pressure in the human body and works against another enzyme known as ACE (which has the opposite effect).
  • The virus causes the levels of ACE to fall in the lungs, and consequently pushes up the levels of ACE2.
  • This happens as a chain reaction and increases the levels of the molecule bradykinin in the cells, causing a bradykinin storm.
  • The storm causes the blood vessels to expand and become leaky, leading to swelling of the surrounding tissue.
  • The levels of hyaluronic acid also increase.
  • The leakage of fluid into the lungs and the excess of hyaluronic acid result in a Jello-like substance.
  • It prevents oxygen uptake in the severely affected Covid-19 patients.
  • Thus, it sometimes makes even the most sophisticated intensive care futile.
  • Knowing the mechanism, doctors can target the bradykinin pathway to evolve more therapeutic interventions to offset the severe effects of Covid-19.

Do you know?

  • Bradykinin is a compound that is related to pain sensation and lowering blood pressure in the human body.
  • Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that occurs naturally in the skin, and it helps to bind water to collagen (a protein). It can absorb more than 1,000 times its own weight in water to form a hydrogel.

Number of Giant Radio Galaxies

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Space

In news

  • Indian Researchers working on giant radio galaxies (GRG) at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune, India and Leiden University, Netherlands, have found nearly 400 new GRGs.

Important value additions

Giant Radio Galaxies (GRG)

  • GRGs are large single structures in the universe.
  • When some of the radio galaxies grow to enormous sizes, bigger than 33 lakh light years across, they are called giant radio galaxies (GRGs).
  • GRGs were discovered in 1974 and until 2016, only about 300 GRGs were known.
  • The latest findings indicate that they are over 800.
  • It is not clearly understood how some objects grow to such large scales and what is the fuel of their respective black holes.
  • The study of GRGs gives important clues to unveiling how massive black holes accrete mass and the efficiency with which they produce the magnificent jets.

Limits on Multi-Cap Fund Investments

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Investment

In news

Key takeaways

  • A multi cap fund will be required to invest a minimum of 75% of its total assets in equities and equity-related instruments.
  • At present, the rule is to invest a minimum of 65% in equities.
  • Minimum investment of 75% has to be allocated in between large cap companies, mid cap companies and small cap companies, with a minimum share of 25% in each.
  • The rest 25% can be invested as per the investor’s choice.
  • Till now, fund managers of multi cap mutual funds were investing across market capitalisation as per their choice.

Important value additions

Multi-Cap Fund

  • Multi-cap funds are those that diversify their investments into all three categories (small, medium, and large-cap).
  • These funds invest by market capitalization of shares.
  • Large cap stocks: Stocks of top 100 listed companies in terms of full market capitalisation.
  • Mid-cap stocks: Stocks of top 101 to 250 companies in terms of full market capitalisation.
  • Small-cap stocks: Stocks of companies above 251 in terms of full market capitalisation.

Do you know?

  • Market capitalization is the aggregate valuation of the company based on its current share price and the total number of outstanding stocks.
  • It is calculated by multiplying the current market price of the company’s share with the total outstanding shares of the company.

Miscellaneous

Revised Guidelines for Parole and Furlough: MHA

  • Recently, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has revised the Model Prison Manual, 2016 guidelines related to parole and furlough.
  • Both parole and furlough are considered as reformative processes. 
  • These provisions were introduced with a view to humanising the prison system.
  • Parole and furlough are covered under the Prisons Act of 1894. 

Parole

  • It is a system of releasing a prisoner with suspension of the sentence. 
  • The release is conditional, usually subject to behaviour, and requires periodic reporting to the authorities for a set period of time.
  • Parole is not a right.
  • It is given to a prisoner for a specific reason, such as a death in the family or a wedding of a blood relative.
  • It may be denied to a prisoner even when he makes out a sufficient case, if the competent authority is satisfied that releasing the convict would not be in the interest of society.

Furlough

  • It is similar to parole, but with some significant differences. 
  • It is given in cases of long-term imprisonment. 
  • The period of furlough granted to a prisoner is treated as remission of his sentence.
  • Unlike parole, furlough is seen as a matter of right for a prisoner, to be granted periodically irrespective of any reason.
  • It is provided to enable the prisoner to retain family and social ties, and to counter the ill-effects of prolonged time spent in prison.

(MAINS FOCUS)


POLITY / GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Extending tenure of Departmentally-Related Standing Committees (DRSC)

In news:

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat is considering changing the rules governing the Departmentally-Related Standing Committees’ (DRSC) tenure to make it to two years from the present one year.

Reason behind:

A significant amount of the tenure of the committees was lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the panels have not been able to complete reports on the subjects they were working on. 

The panels should have enough time to work on the subjects selected by them. 

Parliamentary committees:

  • Standing Committees: Permanent (constituted every year or periodically) and work on a continuous basis for one year from the date of its constitution.
  • Ad Hoc Committees: Temporary and cease to exist on completion of the task assigned

Role of committees:

  • Through Committees, Parliament exercises its control and influence over administration and keeps vigilance over the executive.
  • They aid and assist the Legislature in discharging its duties.
  • They also provide the expertise on a matter which is referred to them.

Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees:

  • Out of the total 24 standing committees, 8 work under the Rajya Sabha and 16 under the Lok Sabha.
  • Each standing committee consists of 31 members (21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha). 
  • The members of the Lok Sabha are nominated by the Speaker, just as the members of the Rajya Sabha are nominated by the Chairman from amongst its members
  • Ministers cannot be members of these committees.

What do the rules say?

As per Rule 331D (4) of the Lok Sabha rules and Rule 269(3) of the Rajya Sabha rules:
The term of office of the “members” of the committees shall not exceed one year.
Thus, it is the tem of the office of the members and not of the committees per se that is one year.

Backdrop:

The tenurial issue has to be looked at against following backdrop:

  • The Rajya Sabha undergoes partial biennial renewal, since one-third of its members retire every two years by virtue of clause (1) of Article 83 of the Constitution. 
  • The Lok Sabha has a fixed tenure of five years, unless sooner dissolved.

Thus it is only once in 10 years that the requirement of major reshuffle of the Standing Committees in both the Houses is expected to coincide, that is after the second round for the Lok Sabha and the fifth biennial round of the Rajya Sabha.

What can be done?

  • Different tenures

The terms of the members of the two Houses on these committees can be different, in consonance with the tenure of the Houses themselves. 

It may be two years for the Rajya Sabha members and for the Lok Sabha members, it may be coincidental with its life. 

Conclusion:

The sittings of Parliament are steadily declining over the years. From 100-150 sittings in the 1950s, the number is down to 60-70 sittings per year in 2019-20.
In such a scenario, a major part of parliamentary work is done by DRSCs. A longer tenure will help in completion of tasks and deliberations assigned to them.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss importance of Departmentally-related Standing Committees (DRSC). Do you think the tenure of the committee or its members should be extended?

NATIONAL/ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC: General studies 3

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

Waste Management in India

“Legacy waste”: 

Years of neglect, lack of foresight and complete absence of urban planning has left India with mountains of waste-landfills, waste-choked drains, water bodies and rivers. This is called “legacy waste”, a cumulative consequence of decades of neglect and lack of foresight.

India faces a challenge of treating and getting rid of the legacy waste, with simultaneous and continuous accumulation of fresh everyday waste

How staggering is the issue?

  • India generates the most waste globally, about 275 million tonnes of waste per year. 
  • With current waste treatment rates of about 20-25%, the majority of waste remains untreated, in a heap, on landfills, and an equal amount in drains and river bodies.
  • Drains and water bodies, emptying out into Indian rivers, also carry with them an unimaginable amount of waste. The Ganga is among the top 10 polluted rivers in the world, together accounting for 90% of the total ocean plastic pollution.
  • Central, state, city and municipal governments, over decades, have not been able to prevent the situation, nor deal with its scale. 
  • Out of a total 92 large WTE(Waste-to-Energy) plants only a small fraction is operational. The plants that are operational, run at suboptimal capacity. 

Suggested solutions:

India needs affordable, decentralised, customised solutions:

  • Municipalities need to have access to affordable technology. 
  • Local situations needs local solutions:
    Today most of the technology/equipment needed for waste management is imported, expensive and often not suited in our varied local situations.Amphibian equipment to clean water bodies is imported and can work well for large water bodies. Indigenisation of design and manufacturing of such equipment for smaller drains and water bodies is essential. 
  • Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) needs to kick in immediately. 

Ease of procurement of technology and equipment: 

Evolving a less cumbersome process for the procurement of technology and equipment is imperative.
State governments are hit by a double whammy due to lack of technology and a rigid procurement system. 

Policy change:

Policy which provides a direction to accelerate the removal of waste exponentially is needed. 

  • One way, used internationally, is to unlock the land value under landfills.
    Allowing agencies, companies or industry that clear waste, to own the land can fund the clean-up. 
  • Development of skilled and trained professional personnel to operate and maintain the waste management chain, right from collection, operation and maintenance of waste-handling plants.
  • Moving to a zero-waste society
  • Central, and integral to success, is design. Design in the collection, of centralised and decentralised waste treatment plants, and of the equipment used.
    Design of waste management should be the bedrock of a well-planned smart city, town or village.

Conclusion:

Science and technology must be the fulcrum to provide solutions to the waste challenges faced by the country, a challenge which is both urgent and important, and can be ignored at our own peril.

Connecting the dots:

  • A well-designed waste-management strategy, cognisant of Indian constraints, should be the hallmark of Swachh Bharat, Swasth Bharat and Unnat Bharat. Comment.
  • India faces a challenge of treating and getting rid of the legacy waste, with simultaneous and continuous accumulation of fresh everyday waste. In this light a multi-pronged strategy is required for waste management.

(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 Phosphine gas was recently discovered on which of the following Planet?

  1. Mars
  2. Jupitar
  3. Venus
  4. Saturn

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Parole and Furlough:

  1. Furlough is given to a prisoner for a specific reason, such as a death in the family.
  2. Parole is provided to enable the prisoner to retain family and social ties.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding BRICS:

  1. New Development Bank was established after signing the Agreement at Fortaleza, Brazil.
  2. BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement provides short-term liquidity support to the members only. 

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.4 Bradykinin storm phenomenon is associated with which of the following disease?

  1. Tuberculosis
  2. AIDS
  3. Malaria
  4. COVID-19

Q.5 Sanskrit Grams are launched in which of the following state of India?

  1. Himachal Pradesh
  2. Uttar Pradesh
  3. Uttarakhand
  4. Rajasthan

ANSWERS FOR 14th September 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 B
3 B
4 D

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