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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th November 2020

  • IASbaba
  • November 24, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Coronavirus patients develop Neutralising Antibodies

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health & GS-III – Sci & Tech

In news

  • A new study in Pune has revealed that nearly 85% of the people who had been found infected with novel coronavirus in a serosurvey had developed neutralising antibodies.

Important value additions 

  • Immunity from a disease-causing virus comes from what are known as “neutralising” or “protective” antibodies.
  • Neutralising antibodies, like other antibodies that are created to fight the disease, are proteins.
  • These are a small subset of the disease-specific antibodies that are generated once an infection has occurred.
  • The neutralising antibodies become special because they have the ability to prevent the entry of the same virus inside human bodies in the future. 
  • The other antibodies help in fighting off the virus once the infection has already happened.

Delirium: One of the symptoms for older Covid-19 patients 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news

  • A new study supports evidence that delirium can predict coronavirus infection in older patients who show no other typical symptoms of Covid-19.

Important value additions 

  • Delirium is a serious disturbance in mental abilities that results in confused thinking and reduced awareness of the environment. 
  • The start of delirium is usually rapid — within hours or a few days.
  • Delirium can often be traced to one or more contributing factors, such as a severe or chronic illness, changes in metabolic balance (such as low sodium), medication, infection, surgery, or alcohol or drug intoxication or withdrawal.

Do you know? 

Delirium and dementia

  • Dementia and delirium may be particularly difficult to distinguish, and a person may have both. 
  • Onset: The onset of delirium occurs within a short time, while dementia usually begins with relatively minor symptoms that gradually worsen over time.
  • Attention: The ability to stay focused or maintain attention is significantly impaired with delirium. A person in the early stages of dementia remains generally alert.
  • Fluctuation: The appearance of delirium symptoms can fluctuate significantly and frequently throughout the day. While people with dementia have better and worse times of day, their memory and thinking skills stay at a fairly constant level during the course of a day.

Five technologies recommended in Drinking Water and Sanitation to provide Field Level Solutions to the States

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Policies and Interventions & GS-III – Sci & Tech

In news

  • A multi-disciplinary Technical Committee in the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti has recommended five technologies in Drinking Water and Sanitation to provide Field Level Solutions to the States.
  • The Ministry of Jal Shakti gives importance to the infusion and deployment of innovative technological solutions to realize the objective of the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide Functional Household Tap Connection to every rural home by 2024.

Key takeaways 

  • The first technology recommended is Grundfos AQpure, a solar energy based water treatment plant based on ultra-filtration.
  • The Second is Janajal Water on Wheel, an IoT based electric vehicle based on GPS location to enable delivery of safe water to the doorstep of households.
  • Another technology is Presto Online Chlorinator, a non-electricity dependent online chlorinator for disinfection of water for removal of bacterial contamination.
  • Johkasou technology recommended is an inbuilt sewage and Kitchen and bath water treatment system having advanced anaerobic-aerobic configuration that can be installed underground.
  • The last innovative technology is FBTec®, a site assembled in a decentralised sewage treatment system using fixed filter media.

Important value additions 

Jal Jeevan Mission

  • It envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by 2024.
  • It focuses on integrated demand and supply-side management of water at the local level.
  • Creation of local infrastructure like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse, would be undertaken in convergence with other government programmes/schemes.
  • It is based on a community approach to water and includes extensive Information, Education and Communication as a key component of the mission.
  • Funding Pattern: The fund sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.

Miscellaneous

India International Cherry Blossom Festival

  • India International Cherry Blossom Festival is the calendar event of Meghalaya which attracts a large number of tourists annually in Shillong. 
  • It was cancelled recently due to  COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It is the only Cherry Blossoms festival in India.

Cherry blossom 

  • It is a flower of many trees of genus Prunus.
  • Prunus cerasoides is also called wild Himalayan cherry, Indian wild cherry, and sour cherry. 
  • It is known in Hindi as padam, pajja, or padmakashtha.
  • Among Hindus in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it is considered sacred and associated with Vishnu and Shiva.


SITMEX

  • Indian Navy (IN) Ships participated in the 2nd edition of India, Singapore and Thailand Trilateral Maritime Exercise SITMEX-20, recently in Andaman Sea.
  • The ships included indigenously built ASW corvette Kamorta and missile corvette Karmuk. 
  • The SITMEX series of exercises are conducted to enhance mutual inter-operability and imbibing best practices between IN, Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and Royal Thai Navy (RTN).
  • The 2020 edition of the exercise is being hosted by RSN.

SIMBEX

  • Indian Navy is scheduled to host the 27th edition of India – Singapore Bilateral Maritime Exercise SIMBEX-20 from November 23 in Andaman Sea. 
  • The exercises are aimed at enhancing mutual inter-operability and imbibing best practices from each other.
  • The 2020 edition of SIMBEX will witness participation by Indian Navy ships including destroyer Rana with integral Chetak helicopter and indigenously built corvettes Kamorta and Karmuk.

Rodchenkov Act

  • The Rodchenkov Act was recently in news. 
  • It is passed by the US Senate and will become a law once the US president signs it.
  • It allows the USA to initiate legal proceedings against those involved in running doping rings even if they are not residents of the USA or if the act of doping took place outside the USA. 
  • The main objective of the Rodchenkov Act is to bring to book Facilitators of drugs amongst athletes. 

(MAINS FOCUS)


WATER/ FEDERALISM/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2, 3:

  • Issues relating to development and management of Water
  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 

Inter-State River Water Disputes(Amendment) Bill

Context: The Interstate River Water Disputes Amendment Bill 2019 and the Dam Safety Bill 2019, passed by Lok Sabha and pending approval in Rajya Sabha.

The Inter-State River Water Disputes are one of the most contiguous issues in the Indian federalism today. In extreme cases, it may hamper the relationship between the different states.

Issues with the Inter State River Water Dispute Act, 1956

  • Multiple Tribunals: Under this Act, a separate Tribunal has to be established for each dispute. There are eight inter-state water dispute tribunals, including the Ravi and Beas Waters Tribunal and Krishna River Water Dispute Tribunal.
  • Lacks Robust Governance Framework: Currently there is no time limit for adjudication or publication of reports. There is lack of clarity in the institutional framework and guidelines that define these proceedings to ensure compliance.
  • Protracted Proceedings: Only three of the eight tribunals have actually given awards accepted by the states. Tribunals like those on the Cauvery and Ravi Beas have been in existence for over 26 and 30 years respectively without any award.
  • Composition of the tribunals: These are not multidisciplinary and it consists of persons only from the judiciary. There is no upper age limit for the chairman or the members.
  • Data Issue: The absence of authoritative water data that is acceptable to all parties currently makes it difficult to even set up a baseline for adjudication.
  • Subversion of resolution mechanisms: Though award is final and beyond the jurisdiction of Courts, either States can approach Supreme Court under Article 136(Special Leave Petition) under Article 32 linking issue with the violation of Article 21 (Right to Life).
  • Complicated process involving too much discretion: India’s colonial legacy, complicated federal polity and politicisation of water issue all leads to procedural complexities involving multiple stakeholders across governments and agencies. 

Key Provisions of Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill

  • Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC): The bill requires the central government to set up a DRC for resolving any inter-state water dispute amicably.  The DRC will get a period of one year, extendable by six months, to submit its report to the central government.
  • Members of DRC:  Members of the DRC will be from relevant fields, as deemed fit by the central government.
  • Permanent Tribunal: The Bill envisages to constitute a standalone Tribunal with permanent establishment and permanent office space and infrastructure. It can have multiple benches. All existing tribunals will be dissolved and the water disputes pending adjudication before such existing tribunals will be transferred to this newly formed tribunal.
  • Composition of the Tribunal:  The tribunal shall consist of a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and not more than six nominated members (judges of the Supreme Court or of a High Court), nominated by the CJI.  The central government may appoint two experts serving in the Central Water Engineering Service, not below the rank of Chief Engineer, as assessors to advise the bench in its proceedings.
  • Time allotted to Tribunal to take its decision:  Under the Bill, the proposed tribunal has to give its decision on a dispute within a period of two years.  This period is extendable by a maximum of one year. 
  • Decision of the Tribunal:  Earlier, the decision of the tribunal must be published by the central government in the official gazette.  After publication, the decision has the same force as that of an order of the Supreme Court. Under the Bill, the requirement of publication in the official gazette has been removed.  
  • The Bill also adds that the decision of the bench of the tribunal will be final and binding on the parties involved in the dispute.  This decision will have the same force as that of an order of the Supreme Court.
  • Maintenance of data bank and information:  The Bill also calls for the transparent data collection system at the national level for each river basin and a single agency to maintain data bank and information system.
  • Additional rule -making powers:  The Bill gives the central government powers to make rules in which water will be distributed during stress situations arising from shortage in the availability of water.

Key Issues and Analysis of the Bill

  1. Issues with DRC
  • Its role has been elevated from that of a perfunctory “techno-legal” body to an agency with a proactive role. 
  • An officer of secretary rank will head the DRC and the body will have senior officers from the states that are party to a river water dispute, as members.
  • However, there are concerns of it being adequately empowered. There is challenge to make the DRC process neutral and ensure meaningful participation by states that are party to a river water dispute
  • There is also lack of clarity whether the DRC function as part of the Permanent Tribunal or will it work separately. 
  • The Cauvery Supervisory Committee (CSC) which had a similar composition as that of DRC did not have much success
  • The DRC aims at a politically negotiated settlement, for river water disputes are deeply political at their core. Its raison d’être is to avoid legal adjudication, not to supplement it. There are doubts whether this can be achieved
  1. Conflict with Judiciary
  • The court had in December 2016 said that it was within its jurisdiction to hear appeals against the 2007 Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award after the centre and Puducherry opposed the appeals, saying that the Constitution of India expressly disallows the apex court from intervening in interstate river water disputes.
  • This means that the party states can now appeal against the decisions of the tribunal. 
  • The Court followed it up with another order in February 2018 where it modified the allocations of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal Final award of 2007. The bill does not address the implications of these decisions. 
  • The bill has to resolve this conundrum first. In simple terms, the Supreme Court says it has jurisdiction over interstate river water disputes while the legislature says it doesn’t.
  1. Selection of Tribunal Judges
  • One cannot miss the inclusion of a committee to select the tribunal judges. 
  • The committee comprises the prime minister or a nominee as the Chairperson, the Minister of Law and Justice, the Minister of Jal Shakti and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 
  • This composition will now risk states politicising not just the disputes, but their adjudication by the tribunal. This creates a situation where the dispute could escalate to the Supreme Court.

SOCEITY/ GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

Topic: General Studies 1, 2:

  • Social empowerment
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation 

Paternity Leave

Context: Indian Cricket Team Captain Virat Kohli asked for, and was granted, paternity leave in the middle of a competitive Test series against Australia.

Unlike maternity leave, there is no law governing leave for fathers in India.

Do You Know?

  • The time-use survey report released last month by the National Sample Survey Office shows that Indian women spend nearly four hours more on unpaid work than men, with grim consequences for women’s participation in the workforce.
  • India remains among the 90 out of the 187 countries in the world that do not have national policies to ensure that new fathers get adequate paid time off with their babies. 
  • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 allows for pregnant women to take leave for a total of 26 weeks out of which up to 8 weeks can be claimed before delivery.
  • The woman is also supposed to get paid a benefit at the rate of her daily wage for three months before she goes on maternity leave.

What are the merits of providing Paternity Leave?

  • To Promote Gender Equality: Until men have equal opportunities to be caregivers, there will be an inevitable pressure on women to bear the bulk of responsibilities around the household. 
  • To defeat Patriarchy: There’s a culture that perceives nurturing and parental duties as womanly. This toxic belief promotes the idea of women having to carry the sole responsibility of up-bringing, while the men go out and chase their professional goals.
  • Parenting Skills: Just like maternity leave, paternity leave allows new-dads to take time off work and spend time with and around the new baby and mother. As a result, father’s attach to their babies in ways similar to mothers. This helps fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that then allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female partners.
  • Changed family Set Up: In today’s world with nuclear families working couples don’t have the luxury of large joint family setups. Therefore, the husband/father needs to get time off from work to take care of his wife and newborn child. 
  • Work-life balance and good for Women’s Careers: Paid Paternity leave helps find a balance between work and life for moms and dads, and in turn, help moms advance in their careers and achieve their own successes
  • Helps Control Population: A study in Spain, which now gives 12 weeks of paternity leave, had found that it has lowered the fertility rate.
  • International Trend: In Britain, Sweden and Norway, parents are granted about a year of paid parental leave to tend to their newborns during that particularly crucial and difficult period.
  • The post-COVID reality makes it even more urgent for workplaces to incentivise men to take more responsibility at home, if more women are not to drop off the work grid.

Do Public Sector employees in India get Paternity Leave?

  • Public sector employees get 15-day paternity leave.
  • The government made provisions for paternity leave for all public sector employees in 1999 through the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A). 
  • This allows any male central government employee (including trainees and probationers) with less than two children to avail a 15-day paternity leave either 15 days before or within six months from the date of delivery of child.
  • This also extends to cases where a child has been adopted.
  • Many companies have adopted the same model.

How is Private Sector dealing with Paternity Leave?

  • Paternity leave is a rather new concept in the Indian corporate setup and most companies have started offering it in the last few years 
  • The private sector in India is free not to offer paternity leave, but many large organizations are formulating their own policies. 
  • Equality as well as higher productivity resulting from the security and contentment of a better work-life balance may be their aim.
  • Tech giants Facebook, Deloitte and Microsoft offer their employees 17, 16 and 12 weeks of paternity leave respectively.
  • There is no set time duration for paternity leave in corporate India. Most companies offer paternity leave between 5-15 days.

Was there any effort made to pass law regarding Paternity Leave?

  • A Paternity Benefit Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by MP Rajeev Satav in 2017. 
  • The bill, which emphasises upon equal parental benefits for both parents, proposes that all workers, including those in the unorganised and private sector, can avail paternity leave of 15 days, extendable up to three months. 
  • However, the bill has not yet been passed by the Parliament.

Judiciary on Paternity Leave

  • A 2009 judgment in the matter of Chander Mohan Jain v. N.K Bagrodia Public School, where a private school teacher approached the Delhi High Court to challenge the rejection of his paternity leave application and deductions from his salary for availing paternity leaves. 
  • The Delhi High Court held that “all male employees of unaided recognized private schools were entitled to paternity leave”. 
  • The court directed the school to refund the money that was deducted from the teacher’s salary. 
  • While this judgment may not have pioneered the need to have a paternity benefit act in place, it does go to show that there has been some traction in India to give men the opportunity to bond with their new born.

What are the Challenges associated with Paternity leave? 

  • Even though several companies have progressive policies, the people executing them are still rigid.
  • Employees are forced to take work from home and not a long leave.
  • In our social set-up, where men are still considered the “breadwinner”, men may not be comfortable availing paternity leave.
  • For many men, the worry that a six-month break may become a career setback, is quite real.
  • The absence of a law to support it, unlike the maternity leave, contributes to the paternity leave needs not being taken seriously.
  • The idea of legislating for paternity leave in the organised sector are viewed with suspicion as there are fears that Indian men would turn it into a paid holiday.

Conclusion

Paternity Leave is an important development in the context of gender discrimination at the workplace, but it will also have broader implications on the patriarchal mindset of Indian society.


(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. Antibodies are made up of fats. 
  2. Neutralizing antibodies have the ability to prevent the entry of the same virus inside human body is in the future.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.2 Consider the following differences between dementia and delirium: 

  1. The onset of delirium occurs within a short time. Dementia worsens over gradually.
  2. The ability to maintain attention is significantly impaired with Dementia. A person in early stages of delirium remains generally alert.

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 Technologies which were recommended recently for better drinking water and sanitation facilities: 

  1. Presto Online Chlorinator is a electricity based online chlorinator for disinfection of water.
  2. Johkasou technology is an inbuilt sewage and kitchen treatment system having only aerobic configuration which can be installed underground.

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 Consider the following statements regarding Jal Jeevan Mission: 

  1. It aims to supply 55 litres of water per family. 
  2. It aims to supply water to every rural household through functional household tap connections by 2030.

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 23rd November 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B (1 only)
2 D

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