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

  • IASbaba
  • December 16, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


India Water Impact 2020

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment

In news

  • India Water Impact Summit, held recently, saw many experts from India and abroad sharing their insights on the topic of conservation and development.

Key takeaways

  • India Water Impact 2020 is a five-day long summit.
  • Experts and academicians from all over the world discuss and debate issues related to water conservation, water security and river rejuvenation during the summit.
  • The event is co-organised by National Mission for Clean Ganga and Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies.
  • During the event, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research signed MOU with cGanga (think-tank of NMCG) for development of sludge management framework in India.

Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance In India

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment

In news

  • NITI Aayog recently released a white paper: Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India.

Key takeaways

  • Vision: is to make India’s public health surveillance system more responsive and predictive to enhance preparedness for action at all levels.
  • The white paper lays out India’s vision 2035 for public health surveillance through the integration of the three-tiered public health system into Ayushman Bharat.
  • The building blocks for this vision are an interdependent governance between the Centre and states, a new data-sharing mechanism which involves the use of new analytics, health informatics, and data science including innovative ways of disseminating ‘information for action’.
  • Citizen-friendly public health surveillance system will ensure individual privacy and confidentiality, enabled with a client feedback mechanism.
  • Improved data-sharing mechanism between Centre and states for better disease detection, prevention, and control.
  • India aims to provide regional and global leadership in managing events that constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

Species in news: Himalayan Serow

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Biodiversity

In news

  • A Himalayan serow has been sighted for the first time in the Himalayan cold desert region of Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.
  • Wildlife officials believe this particular animal may have strayed into the Spiti valley from the Rupi Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary, HP 

Important value addition

Himalayan serow

  • Scientific name: The Himalayan serow, or Capricornis sumatraensis thar
  • It is a subspecies of the mainland serow (Capricornis sumatraensis).
  • It resembles a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig. 
  • It’s a medium-sized mammal with a large head, thick neck, short limbs, long, mule-like ears, and a coat of dark hair.
  • There are several species of serows, and all of them are found in Asia. 
  • Himalayan serows are typically found at altitudes between 2,000 metres and 4,000 metres.
  • They are known to be found in eastern, central, and western Himalayas, but not in the Trans Himalayan region.
  • It is herbivores.
  •  IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable 
  • It is listed under Schedule I of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides absolute protection.

Species in news: Indian Gaur

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Biodiversity

In news

  • Indian Bison was in news recently.
  • It was seen in Pune’s urban landscape which led to its capture and consequently died due to injury.
  • The sad news of its death has put the spotlight on human-Gaur conflict in the country.

Important value addition

Indian Gaur

  • Scientific Name: Bos Gaurus.
  • It is one of the largest extant bovines. 
  • It is one of the largest species among the wild cattle.
  • Habitat: Gaurs are found on the forested hills and grassy areas of South to South-East Asia.
  • They are found in India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
  • The Western Ghats in southern India constitute one of the most extensive extant strongholds of gaur, in particular in the Wayanad – Nagarhole – Mudumalai – Bandipur complex.
  • The gaur is the State Animal of Goa and Bihar.
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable 
  • The Indian Government has included it in the Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.
  • It is listed in CITES Appendix I.

TWG meeting held between India, Iran, and Uzbekistan on Chabahar port

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

In news

  • The first Trilateral Working Group (TWG) Meeting between India, Iran and Uzbekistan on the joint use of Chabahar Port was held.

Key takeaways

  • The Meeting was jointly chaired by Secretary (Shipping), Government of India, Deputy Minister of Transport, Uzbekistan and Deputy Transport Minister of Iran.
  • During the meeting, the participants discussed joint use of Chabahar Port for trade and transit purposes and enhanced regional connectivity.
  • All sides also welcomed India’s proposal to hold “Chabahar Day” on the side-lines of the International Maritime Summit scheduled to be hosted by India in January 2021.
  • The meeting was held as a follow up of decisions taken during the virtual summit held between Indian Prime Minister and President of Uzbekistan recently.

Do you know?

  • Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar located in south-eastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman. 
  • It serves as Iran’s only oceanic port, and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti.

Related articles:

  • Iran dropping India from Chabahar Rail Project: Click here

DakPay: New digital Payment App

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Governance & GS-III – Infrastructure

In news

  • Department of Posts and India Post Payments Bank unveiled a new digital payment app DakPay.

Key takeaways

  • DakPay is a suite of digital financial and assisted banking services provided by India Post & IPPB through the trusted Postal (‘Dak’) network across the nation to cater to the financial needs (‘Pay’) of various sections of the society.
  • DakPay UPI app allows users to create UPI ID and link multiple accounts across banks in a single mobile app. 
  • The app facilitates instant money transfers, QR based payments in merchant stores and online shopping on e-commerce websites.

Israel establishes diplomatic ties with Bhutan 

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

In news

  • Recently, Israel has established diplomatic ties with Bhutan.

Key takeaways

  • Earlier, Israel has supported Bhutanese human resource development since 1982, especially in the area of agriculture development that has benefited hundreds of Bhutanese youths.
  • The two nations established a formal diplomatic relation and agreed to work closely together in various sectors.
  • The two sides will not be setting up embassies and will coordinate through their missions in Delhi.
  • The establishment of diplomatic relations would create new avenues for cooperation between the two countries in water management, technology, human resource development, agricultural sciences and other areas of mutual benefit.
  • As for tourism, Bhutan that limits the number of outsiders who can enter will now likely be more open to Israelis.
  • The ties between the peoples through cultural exchanges and tourism would also be further enhanced.

Related articles:


Doctors witness increased cases of Covid-19 triggered Mucormycosis

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

In news

  • Recently, doctors have witnessed increased cases of Covid-19 triggered Mucormycosis.
  • The reduced immunity of Covid-19 patients makes them more susceptible to this fungal infection.

Important value addition

  • Mucormycosis is also called Black Fungus or Zygomycosis.
  • It is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes.
  • It occurs through inhalation, inoculation, or ingestion of spores from the environment.
  • Mucormycosis does not spread between people or between people and animals.
  • It usually occurs in people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness.
  • Symptoms: One-sided facial swelling and numbness, headache, nasal or sinus congestion, black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of the mouth, fever, abdominal pain, nausea and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • It needs to be treated with prescription antifungal medicine.
  • Often, mucormycosis requires surgery to cut away the infected tissue.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent it.
  • Early detection can prevent loss of eyesight, nose or jaw through clinical intervention.

Miscellaneous

Geminids Meteor Shower

  • The Geminids meteor shower was in news recently.

  • It is believed to be the strongest of the year which is active from December 4-December 20.
  • The Geminids meteor showers are unique because their origin does not lie in a comet, but what is believed to be an asteroid or an extinct comet. 
  • The Geminids emerge from 3200 Phaethon, which meteor scientists consider to be an asteroid.
  • Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.
  • When a meteor reaches the Earth, it is called a meteorite and a series of meteorites, when encountered at once, is termed a meteor shower.

(Mains Focus)


JUDICIARY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

Inadequacies of Justice Delivery System.

Context:  The citizens of the country expect the Judicial institution and its constituents to be ideal. As a result of the unrelenting focus on the Supreme court, the other inadequacies of the system don’t get as much public attention. A few important ones are dealt with below.

1. Spending on judiciary

  • The issue of spending on judiciary is equated with a call for increasing the salaries of judges and providing better court infrastructure. Such perceptions are unfortunate. 
  • India has one of the most comprehensive legal aid programmes in the world, the Legal Services Authority Act of 1987. Under this law, all women, irrespective of their financial status, SCs, STs and children are entitled to free legal aid.
  • This means that a significant proportion of the population falls — or is supposed to fall — under a free legal aid regime. However, in reality, this law is a dead letter. 
  • There has been little effort on the part of successive governments to provide a task force of carefully selected, well-trained and reasonably paid advocates to provide these services.
  • In comparison, the system of legal aid in the U.K. identifies and funds several independent solicitor offices to provide such services. If support is withdrawn, many solicitor offices that provide these invaluable services would collapse and with that, the rule of law. India is yet to put in place anything similar to this.

2. Poor Judge Population Ratio

  • The U.S. has about 100 judges per million population. Canada has about 75 and the U.K. has about 50. 
  • On the other hand, India has only 19 judges per million population. Of these, at any given point, at least one-fourth is always vacant. 
  • While vacancies to the Supreme Court and the High Courts is hotly debated, hardly any attention is focused on this gaping inadequacy in lower courts which is where the common man first comes into contact with the justice delivery system. 
  • In All India Judges Association v. Union of India (2001), the Supreme Court had directed the Government of India to increase the judge-population ratio to at least 50 per million population within five years from the date of the judgment. This has not been implemented.

3. Access to Justice 

  • Though ‘access to justice’ has not been specifically spelt out as a fundamental right in the Constitution, it has always been treated as such by Indian courts.
  • In Anita Kushwaha v. Pushpa Sadan (2016), the Supreme Court held unambiguously that “life” implies not only life in the physical sense but a bundle of rights that also means right to access justice
  • Further, the court pointed out four important components of access to justice. It pointed out the need for adjudicatory mechanisms. It said that the mechanism must be conveniently accessible in terms of distance and that the process of adjudication must be speedy and affordable to the disputants. 

4. Other Issues

  •  A disproportionate amount of attention that is given to the functioning of the Supreme Court, important as it is, distracts from above and similar issues.
  •  Government is yet to draw out a national policy and road map for clearing backlogs and making judicial delivery smooth and efficient
  • Increasing tribunalisation of the justice delivery process
  • The extortionate court fees payable to access justice in civil suits in some States; 
  • The poor integration of technology into the system

Conclusion

Let us assume that the apex court achieves the distinction of being “ideal” in the near future, of being all things to all people. Still, a fine mind alone is of little avail if the rest of the body lies disabled, as the justice delivery system is today.


INTERNATIONAL / SECURITY

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

India is right to bet on a post-Brexit UK

Context: India recently invited the United Kingdom (UK)’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as chief guest for Republic Day 2021.

The visit will take place less than a month after the UK leaves the European Union — with or without a deal. The timing and occasion of the visit signals intent on both sides to develop a genuine partnership.

For decades, India-UK relations remained suboptimal because neither side was invested in truly understanding what the other valued. Some of the reasons that led to suboptimal relationship are

  1. Kashmir Issue: In India, London’s motivations were — incorrectly — viewed as a former colonial power’s (UK) desire to weigh in on regional issues such as Kashmir by tilting towards Pakistan.
  2. Post-Study Work Permit: London scrapped the post-study work permit for international students which led to a sharp drop in Indian student numbers between 2013-17, even as Chinese student numbers swelled based on special visa arrangements. This trend is now reversing as the post-study work permit has been reintroduced.
  3. Afghan War: In UK, India’s lack of appreciation for the UK’s security concerns about troops in Afghanistan and radicalisation at home — both of which necessitate a security partnership with Pakistan — remained an irritant.
  4. Military Purchases: India’s 2012 decision to purchase the French Dassault Rafale over the UK’s Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet increased the estrangement
  5. Brexit: London became busy in its domestic political turmoil and bureaucratic transitions. But whenever it did express interest to augment the relationship, New Delhi refused citing Brexit-related uncertainties.
  6. Economic reasons: India has shied away from FTA given London’s emphasis on easy capital flows to and from India, which would hit Indian producers and retailers hard, without entertaining India’s reciprocal demand for liberal labour flows. 

PM Johnson’s visit offers an opportunity for a reset.

  • Signing FTAs: Though difficult to achieve in the short-term, both countries have an incentive to explore the viability of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). With both the economies under stress due to the pandemic, they have an incentive to revisit the irritants in signing the FTA.
  • Alternative to RCEP: Trade Agreement with UK offer an alternative as India seeks to reduce economic linkages with China. India’s decision to stay out of RCEP will help capitalise on British, and European, economic overtures
  • China Factor: In addition to economic incentives, London’s sharp downturn in relations with Beijing since the introduction of the draconian national security law in Hong Kong imparts strategic synergy to India-UK relations
  • UK’s Foreign Policy: The UK’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development, and Foreign Policy 2021 has indicated that London must tilt towards the Indo-Pacific. The aim is to augment the UK’s presence in the Indian Ocean Region and work with powers such as India, Japan, and Australia, along with the EU and the US, to counter China.
  • Vaccine Development: India remains a top global exporter of raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry and will play an important role in the mass production of the Covid-19 vaccine. 
  • Collaboration in sectors such as digital technology, the climate crisis, and vaccine development will also see a fillip if both countries sign FTA and collaborate together.

Conclusion

There are miles to go before this partnership realises its true potential, but it is set to become “poll-proof” as India bets on a post-Brexit UK


(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 Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India was recently released by which of the following?

  1. Ministry of Health
  2. NITI Aayog
  3. World Health Organisation
  4. AIIMS

Q.2 Consider the following about Himalayan Serow:

  1. It is found in Trans-Himalayan region.
  2. Its IUCN status is Threatened

Which of the above is/correct?

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

Q.3 Where is Rupi Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary situated?

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

ANSWERS FOR 15th December 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 B

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