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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th SEPTEMBER 2020

  • IASbaba
  • September 30, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Leuser Ecosystem

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Biodiversity

In news

  • Recently, Leuser Ecosystem was in the news.
  • An investigation by the global watchdog Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has shown that various food, cosmetics and finance companies have links with companies which are responsible for the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.
  • It is a forest area on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Important value additions

Leuser Ecosystem

  • It is among the most ancient and life-rich ecosystems ever documented by science.
  • It is a world-class hotspot of biodiversity.
  • It is widely acknowledged to be among the most important areas of intact rainforest left in all of Southeast Asia.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The ecosystem stretches across the province of Aceh and North Sumatra, Indonesia.
  • Its diverse landscape includes lowland and montane rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands.

Do you know?

  • It supports viable populations of rare species like Sumatran tigers, orangutans, rhinos, elephants, clouded leopards and sun bears.
  • It plays an important role regulating the global climate by storing massive amounts of carbon in its peatlands and standing forests.
  • Threats: (1) Industrial development for palm oil, pulp and paper plantations and mining; (2) The fires from this widespread destruction have caused major haze pollution

Arrest under Official Secrets Act

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations & GS-III – Security

In news

  • Recently, Delhi police has arrested a strategic affairs analyst under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923 for passing information such as the deployment of Indian troops on the border to Chinese intelligence officers.

Important value additions

Official Secrets Act (OSA)

  • OSA broadly deals with two aspects — spying or espionage and disclosure of secret information of the government.
  • However, the OSA does not define the secret information.
  • Generally secret information includes any official code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document, or information.
  • If guilty, a person may get up to 14 years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both. Both the person communicating the information and the person receiving the information can be punished under the OSA.

India-Sri Lanka Virtual Bilateral Summit held

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

In news

  • Recently, Indian Prime Minister and Sri Lankan PM held the first-ever India-Sri Lanka Virtual Bilateral Summit.

Key takeaways

  • A grant assistance of 15 million dollars shall be provided to Sri Lanka.
  • The grant will assist in deepening people-to-people linkages between the two countries in the sphere of Buddhism.
  • They agreed that the Indian side would facilitate the visit of a delegation of Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka in the first inaugural flight to Kushinagar.
  • Both sides also agreed to explore opportunities in the areas of Ayurveda and Yoga.
  • India and Sri Lanka have reached an understanding to extend the MoU on High Impact Community Development Projects for a five-year period beginning 2020.
  • Both leaders agreed to continue the successful Indian housing project and gave instructions to the relevant officials to fast-track the construction of 10,000 houses in the plantation sector.
  • Implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution was also emphasised as it is essential for carrying forward the process of peace and reconciliation and realizing the expectations of Tamils for equality.

Do you know?

  • Kushinagar Airport was designated as an international airport recently recognizing its importance as a Buddhist site.

Increase in Frequency of Medicanes

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

In news

  • Recently, scientists have warned that extra-tropical storms in the Mediterranean Sea, known as ‘Medicanes’ or ‘Mediterranean Hurricanes’, could become more frequent due to human-induced climate change.

Important value additions

Medicanes

  • Medicanes are tropical-like cyclones formed over the Mediterranean Sea.
  • With the surrounding dry climate and the relatively shallow waters of the sea, the occurrence of tropical-like cyclones is infrequent.
  • They typically form in the fall or winter months and occur once or twice a year.
  • On September 18, 2020, a medicane named Lanos made landfall along the coast of Greece and caused heavy rainfall and flooding in Greece and surrounding islands.


India based Neutrino Observatory

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Achievements of Indians in Sci & Technology

In news

  • An India based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is going to be set up in Bodi West Hills, in Theni district, Tamil Nadu.
  • Funded by: Dept. of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Dept. of Science and Technology (DST).

Key takeaways

  • Objective: To observe neutrinos and antineutrinos produced in the atmosphere of the Earth.
  • Features: The project includes: (1) Underground laboratory and associated surface facilities at Bodi West Hills; (2) Construction of a magnetized Iron Calorimeter (ICAL) detector for studying neutrinos.
  • Advantages: (1) This observation will tell us more about the properties of neutrino particles; (2) This will also help in developing a model of physics beyond the so-called Standard Model of Particle Physics; (3) It would also have a great impact on diverse fields such as nuclear and particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology, medical imaging etc.

Do you know?

  • INO Project is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approx. 1200 m for non-accelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India.
  • National Neutrino Collaboration group (NNCG) includes more than 50 scientists from about 15 Institutes and Universities in India.
  • It is tasked with detailing various aspects related to INO activity and to come up with a proposal for an underground neutrino laboratory.

Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Space; Achievements of Indians in Sci & Technology

In news

  • Recently, the Government of India has created the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe).
  • It is an independent nodal agency under the Department of Space.

Key takeaways

  • IN-SPACe is to be established as a single-window nodal agency, with its own cadre, which will permit and oversee the activities of private companies.
  • Functions: (1) Encourage, promote and handhold the private sector for their participation in the Space Sector; (2) Draw up an integrated launch manifest considering the requirements for ISRO, New Space India Limited (NSIL) and private companies; (3) Work out a suitable mechanism to offer sharing of technology, expertise and facilities; (4) Permit establishment of facilities, within ISRO premises, based on safety norms and feasibility assessment.
  • The decision of IN-SPACe shall be final and binding on all stakeholders including ISRO and private players will not be required to seek separate permission from ISRO.

Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code (2nd Amendment) Bill passed

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In news

Key takeaways

  • It amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
  • The Bill seeks to temporarily suspend initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) under the Code.
  • When a default occurs, the Code allows the creditors of the company or the company itself to initiate CIRP by filing an application before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
  • The Bill provides that for defaults arising during the six months from March 25, 2020, CIRP can never be initiated by either the company or its creditors.
  • The central government may extend this period to one year through notification. The Bill clarifies that during this period, CIRP can still be initiated for any defaults arising before March 25, 2020.

World Bank’s Human Capital Index 2020

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Human Resources

In news

  • Recently, the World Bank released the Human Capital Index (HCI) report for 2020.
  • India has been ranked at the 116th position in the HCI 2020.
  • Last year India was ranked 115 out of 157 countries.
  • India’s score increased to 0.49 in 2020 from 0.44 in 2018.

Key takeaways

  • Parameters Used in HCI: Health and education data of children for 174 countries up to March 2020.
  • It covers 98% of the world’s population.
  • The pandemic puts at risk the decade’s progress in building human capital, including the improvements in health, survival rates, school enrollment, and reduced stunting.
  • More than 1 billion children have been out of school and could lose out, on average, half a year of schooling.
  • It has created significant disruptions to essential health services for women and children, with many children missing out on crucial vaccinations.
  • It has increased income inequality, its economic impact has been particularly deep for women and for the most disadvantaged families, leaving many vulnerable to food insecurity and poverty.

Tata CRISPR Test

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health & GS-III – Achievements of Indians in Sci & Technology

In news

Key takeaways

  • The Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) test is powered by CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology) FELUDA.
  • This test uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for detection of the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • CRISPR is a genome editing technology for diagnosing diseases.
  • It is the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus causing Covid-19.
  • It achieves accuracy levels of traditional RT-PCR tests, with quicker turnaround time, less expensive equipment, and better ease of use.

Virgin Hyperloop to do feasibility study

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Achievements of Indians in Sci & Technology

In news

  • India’s IT hub, Bengaluru may soon get its own hyperloop network as a future mode of mobility.
  • Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Virgin Hyperloop and Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed Hyperloop corridor from Bengaluru Airport.

Key takeaways

  • The pre-feasibility study, which focuses on technical, economic and route feasibility, is expected to be completed in 2 phases of six months each.
  • With speeds of up to 1,080 kmph, hyperloop could transport thousands of passengers per hour from Bengaluru Airport to the city center in under 10 minutes, according to the preliminary analysis.
  • This will help the people of Bengaluru to save a lot of the time that goes to travel in one of India’s most congested cities.
  • Passengers travelling to the Bengaluru airport could streamline their multimodal trip with seamless check in and security – for both their hyperloop as well as air travel at centrally-located hyperloop portals which will help in reducing the overall travel time.
  • In addition to the road network, the airport will also be connected with the sub-urban railway soon and will have Metro connectivity in four years.

Margadarshika for Gram Panchayats and Paani Samitis under Jal Jeevan Mission unveiled

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III –Water Resources

In news

  • Indian Prime Minister released the new logo for the Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • ‘Margadarshika for Gram Panchayats and Paani Samitis under Jal Jeevan Mission’ (Guidelines for the Village Panchayats and Water Committees) was also unveiled.

Key takeaways

  • Referring to the Margadarshika, it was highlighted that they are equally important for the Gram Panchayats, people living in rural areas and for the Government machinery.
  • The Mardarshika Guidelines will guide the members of the Water Committee and Gram Panchayats in taking the right decisions.
  • A special 100-day campaign is being launched on 2nd Oct this year under Jal Jeevan Mission to ensure drinking water connection to every school and Anganwadi in the country.

Do you know?

  • The Jal Jeevan Mission aims at providing every rural household in the country with piped-water connection.
  • The new logo of the Mission shall continue to inspire the need to save every drop of water.
  • Jal Jeevan Mission adopts a bottom to top approach, where the users and Paani Samitis (Water Committees) in the villages envision the whole project from its implementation to maintenance and operation.
  • The mission has also ensured that at least 50% of the members of the water committee would be women.

Defence Acquisition Procedure – 2020 released

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

In news

  • Union Defence Minister unveiled the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) – 2020 recently.
  • DAP 2020 will be applicable with effect from 01 October 2020.
  • The first Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) was promulgated in 2002 and has since been revised periodically.

Key takeaways

  • The New Category of Buy (Global – Manufacture in India) incorporates ‘manufacture of either the entire/part of the equipment or Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility for the equipment, through its subsidiary in India.
  • The categories of Buy(Indian-IDDM), Make I, Make II, Production Agency in Design & Development, OFB/DPSU and SP model will be exclusively reserved for Indian Vendors meeting the criteria of Ownership and Control by resident Indian Citizens with FDI not more than 49%.
  • A simple and practical verification process has been instituted and Indigenous Content (IC) will now be calculated on ‘Base Contract Price’.
  • Provision for exploring options for operating base applications like Fire Control System, Radars, Encryption, Communications etc. on indigenous software in Buy (Indian- IDDM) & Buy (Indian) cases has been included.
  • A separate dedicated chapter has been incorporated in the DAP 2020 for acquisition of systems Designed and Developed by DRDO/DPSUs/OFB.
  • The Offset guidelines have been revised, wherein preference will be given to manufacture of complete defence products over components and various multipliers have been added to give incentivisation in discharge of Offsets.

6 Mega development projects inaugurated under Namami Gange Mission

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Pollution; Climate change; Water Resources

In news

  • Indian Prime Minister inaugurated 6 mega development projects in Uttarakhand under the Namami Gange Mission.

Key takeaways

  • The Ganga Avalokan Museum, the first of its kind on the River Ganga at Haridwar was also inaugurated.
  • “Rowing Down the Ganges” book was also released which explains in detail how the River Ganges stands as a glowing symbol of India’s Culture, Faith and Heritage.
  • These six mega projects of Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) are constructed at Haridwar, Rishikesh, Muni ki Reti, Chorpani, and Badrinath.
  • The Government would provide upfront around 40% of the project cost to the developer to start the work and the remaining 60% would be borne by the private party.

Miscellaneous

Brucellosis

  • An outbreak of brucellosis disease was recently reported from China.

  • More than 3,000 people have been infected with the disease since 2019.
  • It is a bacterial disease that mainly infects cattle, swine, goats, sheep and dogs.
  • Humans can get infected if they come in direct contact with infected animals or by eating or drinking contaminated animal products or by inhaling airborne agents.
  • Most cases of the disease are caused by ingesting unpasteurised milk or cheese from infected goats or sheep.
  • Symptoms: Fever, sweats, malaise, anorexia, headache and muscle pain.
  • Human to human transmission of the virus is rare.

Samvedna

  • SAMVEDNA (Sensitizing Action on Mental Health Vulnerability through Emotional Development and Necessary Acceptance), a Toll Free Tele counselling service for children was recently launched.
  • Launched by: National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
  • It will provide psychological first-aid and emotional support to children who are in quarantine or at COVID care centres and children who have COVID positive family members or children who have lost their parents due to COVID-19.
  • It will cater to children all over India in various regional languages also.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2, 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Vodafone Case: Perils of State Overreach

Context: The Vodafone Group has just won one of the most high-stakes legal battles involving a foreign investor and the Indian state under international law.

For a brief background on the issue: Click Here

Do You Know?

  • 2012 Amendment of Income Tax Act: The income deemed to be accruing to non-residents, directly or indirectly, through the transfer of a capital asset situated in India is taxable retrospectively with effect from April 1, 1962.
  • This amendment was carried out to override the Supreme Court ruling in favour of Vodafone.
  • The Court held that Vodafone didn’t owe any tax to the Indian state on account of Vodafone acquiring a 67% stake in Hutchison Essar through an offshore transaction.

What was the ruling?

  • An Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunal, constituted under the India-Netherlands bilateral investment treaty (BIT), has ruled that India’s imposition of tax liability amounting to ₹22,000 crore on Vodafone is in breach of India’s BIT obligations.

Can the government challenge the award?

  • It is likely that the government might challenge the award at the seat of arbitration or resist the enforceability of this award in Indian courts alleging that it violates public policy.
  • If the government indeed follows these options, there’s a long, gruelling road ahead for Vodafone.
  • The government would be ill-advised to go down this road because it would mean that India does not honour its international law obligation

Key lessons from the case

  • Against the spirit of Democratic norms: Unleashing tax inspectors to extract money out of foreign investors by constantly changing the rules of the game is not an attribute that a liberal democracy should be proud of.
  • Retrospective Amendment termed as Tax Terrorism: The opposition of the day vehemently criticised the retrospective amendment calling it “tax terrorism”.
  • Investor Sentiment: India should learn that being a country that values the rule of law is an important quality to win over the confidence of foreign investors and international goodwill.
  • Usage of Taxpayer’s Money: The tribunal has ordered India to reimburse legal costs to the tune of more than ₹40 crore incurred by Vodafone in fighting this case, which will come from taxpayer’s money
  • Cost of non-compliance: If the order is not complied, it would send a deleterious signal to foreign investors reaffirming the sentiment that doing business in India is indeed excruciating.
  • Honouring international law: All the three organs of the Indian state — Parliament, executive, and the judiciary — need to internalise India’s BIT and other international law obligations. These organs need to ensure that they exercise their public powers in a manner consistent with international law.
  • Impact on other disputes: This ruling might have an impact on the two other ISDS claims that India is involved in with Cairn Energy and Vedanta on the imposition of taxes retrospectively.
  • Restrain from further hardening BITs: India unilaterally terminated almost all its BITs after foreign investors started suing India for breaching BITs. The belief in the Indian establishment is that the ISDS regime unduly intrudes into India’s sovereignty. Hence it is quite possible that India might use this award to further harden its antagonistic stand against ISDS and BITs, which should be resisted.

Conclusion

  • The case is a reminder that the ISDS regime, notwithstanding its weaknesses, can play an important role in fostering international rule of law
  • If the government is serious about wooing foreign investment, India should immediately comply with the decision and repeal the retrospective provision which still remains in statute books.

Connecting the dots:


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.

A demarcation in the interest of public order

Context: Delhi Violence of 2020

What was the violence/riots that took place in Feb 2020?

  • Clashes between of pro- and anti-CAA protesters in Jafrabad, Delhi on February 23 night turned into communal violence and spread across northeast Delhi over the next four to six days.
  • Forty-two people, including a policeman and an IB personnel, lost their lives, while hundreds were injured and shops and houses burnt or destroyed.
  • Hundreds of people have been arrested or detained so far in connection with the violence.
  • But till now, not even a single political leader that made hate speeches which advocated violence in the build-up to the riots has been prosecuted.
  • Delhi Police faced criticism for ineffective handling of the riots.
  • Delhi Police, having magisterial powers under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to take preventive action, failed to maintain public order.

What is the Public Policy issue associated with this issue?

  • The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution distinguishes between ‘police’ and ‘public order’.
  • The Supreme Court has made a distinction between law and order and public order and emphasised that the two terms are not interchangeable.
  • The two concepts have different objectives and legal standards.
  • Law and order consists of the analysis made by police of the situation in an area and their commitment to firm action and penalties under criminal law.
  • Public order is a duty imposed on the District Magistrate to assess whether it is necessary to rush to the spot where law and order has been breached to prevent violence spreading and ease tension.
  • The District Magistrate’s role is important in exceptional situations — for example, to prevent a breach of peace; and for grievance redress as in Shaheen Bagh
  • Kerala has both a District Magistrate responsible for public order and a senior police officer as city Police Commissioner focusing on crime.
  • If an official is allotted a dual role, to both keep in place law and order and maintain public order, this could lead to the displacement of one goal in favour of the other.

The Supreme Court has formulated certain guidelines and rules when it comes to these distinct duties

  1. Degree and Extent of the reach of an act (protest)
  • Some disgruntled and agitated people going on a vandalising spree affect “public order” only when they affect a particular community as a whole.
  • In Ram Manohar Lohia vs. State of Bihar, in 1965, the Supreme Court held that in the case of ‘public order’, the public at large have to be affected by a particular action as it “embraces more of the community than ‘law and order’, which affects only a few individuals”
  1. Imposition of restriction
  • In the Madhu Limaye case, the Court reiterated that “the emergency must be sudden and the consequences sufficiently grave” for an imposition of restrictions.
  • Extension of a restriction over a larger territorial area or for a longer duration requires a relatively higher justification and calibrated response.
  1. Restrictions should not prohibit Democratic Rights
  • In Anuradha Bhasin vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court held that prohibitive orders should not prevent legitimate expression of opinion, or grievance or exercise of democratic rights
  • Specific restrictions have to be tailored to the goal, nature and stage of the emergency, requiring the adoption of the least restrictive measure.
  1. Need to Set up oversight mechanism
  • In Aldanish Rein vs State of NCT of Delhi, the High Court directed the setting up of an oversight mechanism to periodically review the exercise of magisterial powers by Delhi Police.
  • The Supreme Court, in a PIL, is examining whether police officers can act as magistrates in certain cases.

Conclusion

  • Prevention through grievance redress and reliance on the least blunt instruments are critical for legitimacy, eschewing an adversarial view.
  • The National Police Commission also recognises the coordinating role of the District Magistrate, having more leverage than the police.

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 Recently, Leuser Ecosystem was in the news. It is a forest area on the island of which of the following country?

  1. Sri Lanka
  2. USA
  3. Indonesia
  4. Malaysia

Q.2 Medicanes are associated with which of the following?

  1. Growth stimulating antibiotic
  2. A probable oral vaccine for COVID-19
  3. Mediterranean Hurricanes
  4. Moderate Hurricanes over USA

Q.3 An India based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is going to be set up in which of the following state of India?

  1. Tamil Nadu
  2. Himachal Pradesh
  3. Rajasthan
  4. Assam

Q.4 Recently, the Government of India has created the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe). Consider the following regarding IN-SPACe:

  1. The decision of IN-SPACe shall be final and binding on all stakeholders.
  2. Private players will be required to seek separate permission from ISRO.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

ANSWERS FOR 29th September 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 B
4 C

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