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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th October 2020

  • IASbaba
  • October 9, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Poverty and shared Prosperity 2020: Reversals of Fortune

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Social issues

In news

  • Recently, Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report was released. 
  • Released by: The World Bank biennially
  • According to the report, Global extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in 20 years because of the disruption caused by COVID-1

Key takeaways 

  • The report provides the latest and most accurate estimates on trends in global poverty and shared prosperity.
  • For more than two decades, extreme poverty was steadily declining. 
  • Now, for the first time in a generation, the quest to end poverty has suffered its worst setback.
  • The pandemic may push another 88 million to 115 million into extreme poverty or having to live on less than $1.50 per day. 
  • Some 9.1% to 9.4% of the world will be affected by extreme poverty in 2020.

Natural Gas Marketing Reforms approved 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Resources

In news

  • The Union Cabinet has approved ‘Natural Gas Marketing Reforms’ to move towards gas based economy.

Key takeaways 

  • Aim of the Policy: (1)To provide standard procedure for sale of natural gas in a transparent and competitive manner; (2) To discover market price by issuing guidelines for sale by contractor through e-bidding.
  • Advantages: (1) This will bring uniformity in the bidding process across the various contractual regimes and policies; (2) Ambiguity shall be removed; (3) It shall contribute towards ease of doing business. 
  • Affiliate companies can also participate in the bidding process to make it more open and transparent. 
  • The policy will also grant marketing freedom to the Field Development Plans (FDPs) of those Blocks in which Production Sharing Contracts already provide pricing freedom.

Pusa Decomposer to be used on trail basis

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment 

In news

  • According to Environment Ministry, Pusa Decomposer will be used on a trial basis in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi for 2020.

Key takeaways 

  • The burning of paddy stubble has been a cause of concern for the past several years as it contributes to air pollution. 
  • It is a common practice in October and November across North West India, primarily in states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. 
  • This is done to quickly clear crop residue from their fields before planting the rabi wheat crop.

Important value additions 

Pusa Decomposer

  • ‘Pusa Decomposer’ is developed to tackle the issue of stubble burning. 
  • Developed by: Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI).
  • It is a fungi-based liquid solution that can soften hard stubble so that it can be easily mixed with soil in the field to act as compost.
  • It will also help in retaining the essential microbes and nutrients in soil that are otherwise damaged due to the burning. 

Miscellaneous

Nobel Prize for Literature 2020 announced 

  • The 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to American poet Louise Glück.
  • A professor at Yale University, Glück made her debut in 1968 with her collection titled ‘Firstborn’. 
  • She is seen as one of the most prominent poets and essayists in American contemporary literature.
  • She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for her collection The Wild Iris and the National Book Award for her latest collection, Faithful and Virtuous Night, in 2014.
  • She is the fourth woman to win the Nobel Literature Prize in the past decade.

(MAINS FOCUS)


RIGHTS/ JUDICIARY / GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  • Ethics in Public administration: 

CAG: Keeping vigil even during unusual times

Context: With the nation spending substantial resources to manage the pandemic the role of the supreme audit institution of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has assumed the significance.

Karnataka Case – How emergency situation is misused for corrupt practices?

  • Emergency calls for attention on outcomes rather than rules
  • In the expediency of saving lives and alleviating suffering, there can be reasonable exceptions to compliance with established rules and standard operating procedures. As a result, questions of inconsistencies are likely to be overlooked.
  • In Karnataka, there was political allegation that funds (to the tune of ₹2,000 crore) were siphoned off to purchase inferior quality of PPEs, sanitisers, ventilators, masks and other equipment at prices higher than those prevailing in the market
  • In August 2020, the Karnataka State Legislature’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) directed the CAG to conduct a special audit into the purchase of COVID-19 equipment
  • The panel also asked the CAG to ‘conduct an audit of expenditure incurred by the State government under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). The government had used the SDRF amount for purchase of equipment in various districts’

What is the role of CAG during these times?

  • Mandate: The statutory responsibility of CAG as an independent, objective, and non-partisan constitutional authority includes appraising disaster preparedness, ensuring that management, mitigation operations, procedures are complied with, and proper internal controls are in place.
  • Realigning to COVID-times: The CAG has issued an order creating a new vertical — health, welfare and rural development on June 1 restructuring the office of the Director General of Audit, Central Expenditure
  • Need to audit Health related expenditure: It is necessary that the CAG undertakes performance audits of COVID-19 related procurements, the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and Employee State Insurance (ESI) hospitals. 
  • Audit objectives may include the procurement of equipment and drugs for CGHS wellness centres and polyclinics, laboratories and hospitals. 
  • Quality of Governance: As the CAG’s performance audits are driven by economy, efficiency and effectiveness, the audit should also focus on expense tracking and achievement of outputs and outcome, in qualitative and quantitative terms.
  • Leveraging Technology: The entire process of procurement of COVID-19-related equipment and drugs, proper documentation, and compliance with rules and regulations can be streamlined with data analytics and AI

Significance of CAG Auditing during COVID-19 times

  • Helps Prevent Spread of Pandemic: Auditing of hospitals, dispensaries and labs is expected to provide the assured health-care services including infection control and hygiene.
  • Disaster Management: If all the major purchases by government entities at all levels are audited by the CAG, there can be substantial improvement in disaster management. 
  • Good Governance: CAG audit will usher in better transparency, integrity, honesty, effective service delivery and compliance with rules and procedures and governance.
  • Long term benefits: Audit recommendations can contribute improvements in various aspects of disaster preparedness, management and mitigation.

Conclusion

With corruption likely in pandemic management, the CAG’s audit can ensure checks and balances in the health sector

Connecting the dots:

  • Election Commission of India’s role in conducting elections during Pandemic

WOMEN/ GOVERNANCE/ SCIENCE & TECH

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections. 
  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill – Part I

Context: Union Health Minister introduced the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 (Bill) in the Lok Sabha on September 14.

Aim of the Bill

  • To regulate ART banks and clinics
  • Allow safe and ethical practice of ARTs 
  • Protect women and children from exploitation
  • To supplement the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 (that awaits consideration by the Rajya Sabha)

Some of the key Provisions of the bill are:

  1. Definition of Assistive Reproductive Technology
  • The Bill defines ART to include all techniques that seek to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte (immature egg cell) outside the human body and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman.
  • Examples of ART services include gamete (sperm or oocyte) donation, in-vitro-fertilisation (fertilising an egg in the lab), and gestational surrogacy (the child is not biologically related to surrogate mother).  
  • ART services will be provided through: (i) ART clinics, which offer ART related treatments and procedures, and (ii) ART banks, which store and supply gametes.
  1. Regulation of ART Clinics and ART Banks
  • The Bill provides that every ART clinic and bank must be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India. 
  • The National Registry will be established under the Bill and will act as a central database with details of all ART clinics and banks in the country.  
  • State governments will appoint registration authorities for facilitating the registration process.  
  • Clinics and banks will be registered only if they adhere to certain standards (specialised manpower, physical infrastructure, and diagnostic facilities).  
  • The registration will be valid for five years and can be renewed for a further five years. 
  1. Conditions for gamete donation and supply
  • A bank can obtain semen from males between 21 and 55 years of age, and oocytes from females between 23 and 35 years of age.  
  • An oocyte donor should be an ever-married woman having at least one alive child of her own (minimum three years of age).  
  • The woman can donate oocyte only once in her life and not more than seven oocytes can be retrieved from her.  
  • A bank cannot supply gamete of a single donor to more than one commissioning couple (couple seeking services).
  1. Conditions for offering ART services
  • ART procedures can only be carried out with the written informed consent of both the party seeking ART services as well as the donor.  
  • The party seeking ART services will be required to provide insurance coverage in the favour of the oocyte donor (for any loss, damage, or death of the donor).  
  • A clinic is prohibited from offering to provide a child of pre-determined sex.  
  • The Bill also requires checking for genetic diseases before the embryo implantation.
  1. Rights of a child born through ART:
  • A child born through ART will be deemed to be a biological child of the commissioning couple and will be entitled to the rights and privileges available to a natural child of the commissioning couple.  
  • A donor will not have any parental rights over the child.
  1. National and State Boards: 

The Bill provides that the National and State Boards for Surrogacy constituted under the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 will act as the National and State Board respectively for the regulation of ART services.  Key powers and functions of the National Board include:

  • Advising the central government on ART related policy matters
  • Reviewing and monitoring the implementation of the Bill
  • Formulating code of conduct and standards for ART clinics and banks
  • Overseeing various bodies to be constituted under the Bill.  

Analysis of the provisions of the bill will be taken up in Part II of this article


(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 regarding the Conventional source of energy:

  1. The conventional sources of energy are the fossil fuels which took millions of years for the formation of fossil fuels; hence they are limited and non-renewable.
  2. Fossils are remains of organisms that lived in the past and fossil fuels are plants that got buried under earth that became rock over years.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

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

Q.2 Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report was recently launched by which of the following organisation?

  1. World bank
  2. International Monetary Fund
  3. World Economic Forum
  4. None of the above

Q.3 Pusa Decomposer is associated with which of the following?

  1. Thermal Power Plants
  2. Organic Farming
  3. Stubble Burning
  4. Automobile Exhaust

ANSWERS FOR 8th October 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B
3 C
4 D

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