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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th March 2021

  • IASbaba
  • March 29, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


NASA and ISRO collaborate on satellite NISAR

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

In news

  • NASA and ISRO are collaborating on developing a satellite called NISAR. 
  • It will detect movements of Earth’s surface as small as 0.4 inches over areas about half the size of a tennis court.

Key takeaways 

  • It is an SUV-sized satellite. 
  • The name NISAR is short for NASA-ISRO-SAR. 
  • SAR here refers to the synthetic aperture radar that NASA will use to measure changes in the surface of the Earth.
  • Also, SAR refers to a technique for producing high-resolution images.
  • Because of the precision, the radar can penetrate clouds and darkness, which means that it can collect data day and night in any weather.
  • NASA will provide one of the radars for the satellite, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers and a payload data subsystem.

Do you know?

  • ISRO will provide the spacecraft bus, the second type of radar (called the S-band radar), the launch vehicle and associated launch services.
  • The satellite will be launched in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, into a near-polar orbit.
  • It will scan the globe every 12 days over the course of its three-year mission of imaging the Earth’s land, ice sheets and sea ice to give an “unprecedented” view of the planet.

India-Bangladesh Relations

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

In news

  • India and Bangladesh signed 5 MoUs in the fields of Disaster Management, trade, NCC, ICT and setting up of sports facilities recently. 

Key takeaways 

  • Foundation stone was laid for infrastructure development for power evacuation facilities from the Rooppur Nuclear power plant.
  • The Bangladesh leg of the Banagabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition was inaugurated by the two Prime Ministers. 
  • It will be taken to other parts of the world including the UN.
  • Both the leaders also unveiled the foundation stone for the construction of a memorial at Ashuganj honoring the martyrs of Indian armed forces in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh.
  • India gifted 109 life support ambulances to Bangladesh and also 1.2 million doses of the Covishield vaccine.
  • Three border haats were also opened along the India-Bangladesh border.

Other announcements made:

  • A direct passenger train named ‘Mitali Express’ will run between Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri.
  • Indian Prime Minister invited 50 young entrepreneurs from Bangladesh to connect with India’s start up ecosystem
  • 1000 Subarno Jayanti Scholarships were announced for the Bangladeshi students to study in India at the Undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
  • A Bangabandhu Chair will be established at Delhi University to facilitate Bangladesh studies.
  • Both countries agreed to start a new area of cooperation in the Civil nuclear and space sectors.

Following places were visited by Indian Prime Minister on his Bangladesh visit:

  • Birthplace of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Tungipara. 
  • Jeshoreshwari temple in Satkhira. 
  • Harimandir in Orakandi and addressed the representatives of the Matua community.

China and Iran Sign 25-Year ‘Strategic Pact’

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

In news

  • China and Iran signed a 25-year “strategic cooperation pact” recently. 

Key takeaways 

  • It includes “political, strategic and economic” components.
  • This document can be very effective in deepening relations
  • It would establish a blueprint for “reciprocal investments in the fields of transport, ports, energy, industry and services”.
  • The agreement comes amid a major push from China to back Iran as it deals with the continuing weight of sanctions
  • China is its largest trading partner. 

Do you know? 

  • China and Russia called for the U.S. to “unconditionally return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as soon as possible and revoke the unilateral sanctions against Iran.
  • In this context, they proposed “the establishment of a regional security dialogue platform to converge a new consensus on resolving the security concerns of countries in the region”.


Hypnea Indica; Hypnea Bullata: Two new species of seaweed

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III –  Biodiversity 

In news

  • Two new species of seaweed have been discovered by a group of marine biologists from Central University of Punjab, Bathinda.

Key takeaways 

  • Named Hypnea indica (after India) and Hypnea bullata (because of the blisterlike marks on its body – bullate), the seaweeds are part of the genus Hypnea or red seaweeds.
  • Hypnea indica was discovered in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, and Somnath Pathan and Sivrajpur in Gujarat. 
  • Hypnea bullata was discovered from Kanyakumari and Diu island of Daman and Diu.
  • They grow in the intertidal regions of the coast, namely the area that is submerged during the high tide and exposed during low tides.
  • The genus Hypnea consists of calcareous, erect, branched red seaweeds. 

(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions (Judicial Overreach Vs Judicial activism)
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Permanent Commission for Women

The story so far: 

  • Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya Case: The Supreme Court in February 2020 directed the government to ensure that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission (PC) as well as command postings in all services other than combat.
  • Appeal by Women questing implementation: Later, questioning the compliance of the Army with the directions in the judgment, around 80 women short service commission officers approached the Supreme Court challenging the arbitrary process, including unjust medical standards, applied to deny permanent commission to women officers
  • Lt. Col. Nitisha vs. Union of India Case: On 25th March  2021, the Supreme Court held that the Army’s selective evaluation process discriminated against and disproportionately affected women officers seeking permanent commission.

Brief Background of issue of Permanent Commission- Click here

What did the Supreme Court observe?

  • SC observed that the pattern of evaluation inherently caused economic and psychological harm to women short service commission officers. 
  • The judgment said the evaluation criteria set by the Army constituted “systemic discrimination” against the petitioners.
  • SC found several deviations in the standards adopted by the Army for evaluating women officers. 
  • The court observed that the reliance placed on the women officers’ ACR [annual confidential reports] evaluation for determining the grant of permanent commission was unfair.

What is the procedure for granting permanent commission?

  • In 1992, the Union Government issued a notification making women eligible for appointment as officers in select non-combat branches. 
  • In 2008, the government extended the permanent commission to women in two branches — Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Educational Corps (AEC).
  • In a long legal battle for equality, 322 women officers had approached the top court for granting permanent commission, and the Supreme Court delivered its landmark verdict in February 2020. 
  • In July 2020, the Defence Ministry issued the government sanction letter, specifying grant of permanent commission to women officers in all streams in which they are presently serving 

How did the Army respond to the sanction letter?

  • Following the sanction letter, the Army constituted a special selection board for screening women officers for grant of permanent commission who joined the service through the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) and Short Service Commission Women (SSCW). 
  • Of the 365 optee officers who were considered fit for permanent commission by the Selection Board, 277 women short service commission officers (WSSCOs) were granted permanent commission after medical scrutiny. 
  • However, some petitioners said the process followed was arbitrary and challenged it in the top court.

What are the fresh directives?

  • Benchmarking against male batch is irrational: The Supreme Court noted that the Army process of benchmarking women officers against the officers lowest in merit in the corresponding male batch is “irrational and arbitrary”, and said this requirement should be removed. 
  • Criteria for grant of Permanent Commission: All women officers who have fulfilled the cut-off grade of 60% in the Special Selection Board held in September 2020 shall be entitled to the grant of permanent commission, the judgment said, subject to their meeting the prescribed medical criteria and receiving disciplinary and vigilance clearance.
  • Equality upheld: SC stated that in the spirit of true equality with their male counterparts in the corresponding batches, the WSSCOs must be considered medically fit for grant of PC by reliance on their medical fitness, as recorded in the 5th or 10th year of their service.
  • Case of petitioners to be reconsidered: Other than “non-optees”, the cases of all WSSCOs, including the petitioners who have been rejected on medical grounds, shall be reconsidered within a month and orders for the grant of permanent commission must be issued within two months
  • Also, for the Babita Puniya case, the court held that for officers within the service bracket of 10 to 14 years who have been denied permanent commission, it has allowed them to continue in service till they attain 20 years of pensionable service.

GOVERNANCE/ SECURITY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Working of Executive & Federal Challenges

Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021

Context: The Bihar legislature witnessed noisy disorder inside and outside the Assembly on March 23-24 as Opposition parties opposed the government’s attempt to pass the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021.

Protesting Opposition lawmakers were forcibly ousted by marshals and additional police forces called in by the Speaker’s office, with many injured in the scuffle that followed. However, the contentious Bill, was passed in both the Houses.

What is the new Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021? 

  • Special Armed Force: The contentious bill proposes to set up a special armed force to maintain public order and combat any threat to security or extremism. It apparently seeks to arm the Bihar Military Police, rename them, and empower it on the lines of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
  • Power to arrest people on mere suspicion: Section 7 of the Bill gives the force the power to arrest people on the basis of mere suspicion of disrupting state government functions, or attempting to conceal their presence with the aim to commit a crime or cognizable offence.
  • No requirement of warrant: The forces wouldn’t need a warrant from a magistrate to carry out an arrest or to search their premises, and the provisions to search under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 will be applied.
  • Check on arrest power: The only check in place for this is that it would allow any Special Armed Police Officer, not below the notified rank to carry out an arrest. The officer must take the suspect to a nearby police station to get a report lodged detailing the arrest.
  • Role of Courts & Government Sanction: The Special Armed Forces personnel cannot be taken to court for any proceeding against them unless authorised by the government.

What is the Government Saying?

  • The Bill says it will be for maintenance of public order, combating extremism, ensuring the better protection and security of specified establishments.
  • The Bihar government cited that the Bihar Military Police, with its distinct organisational structure, has been handling industrial security, such as that in airports and Metros, and needs a separate identity as Special Armed Forces to fulfil the changing needs of the state’s security.
  • Chief Minister has stated that the specially trained force will strengthen internal security.

Why is the Opposition protesting? 

  • The Opposition has termed the Bill “draconian and unconstitutional” and an attempt by the government to enforce “Police Raj” in the State. 
  • The joint Opposition statement said the Bill will “effectively transform the police force into an armed militia to throttle the voice of the people, academics, activists, journalists, political opposition and those who would dare to speak the truth”.
  • There is also criticism of the bill on the grounds of separation of power. Section 15 of the Bill says even if a person is shot, the inquiry will be done not in the court or by the magistrate but by the police. 
  • Through this Act, it has been alleged by opponents that the BMP will function as National Investigating Agency (NIA)

(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 NISAR, which was recently in news:

  1. It will be jointly developed by ISRO and Japanese space agency, JAXA
  2. It will detect movements of Earth’s surface as small as 0.4 inches over areas about half the size of a tennis court.

Which of the above is or are correct?

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

 Q.2 Consider the following statements:

  1. Newly discovered Hypnea Indica and Hypnea Bullata grow in the intertidal regions of the coast. 
  2. The genus Hypnea consists of calcareous, erect, branched red seaweeds. 

Which of the above is or are correct?

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

ANSWERS FOR 27th March 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B
3 A

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