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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 31st July 2021

  • IASbaba
  • July 31, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


The Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Policies and interventions and GS-III – Pollution

In news Recently, The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Adjoining Areas bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.

What are the key features of the Bill?

  • It provides for the constitution of a Commission for better coordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems related to air quality in the NCR and adjoining areas.  
  • Adjoining areas have been defined as areas of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh adjoining the NCR where any source of pollution may cause adverse impact on air quality in the NCR.  
  • It also dissolves the Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority established in the NCR in 1998.  
  • Functions of the Commission:  
    • Co-ordinating actions by concerned state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh)
    • Planning and executing plans to prevent and control air pollution in the NCR
    • Providing a framework for identification of air pollutants 
    • Conducting research and development through networking with technical institutions
    • Training and creating a special workforce to deal with issues related to air pollution
    • Preparing various action plans such as increasing plantation and addressing stubble burning. 
  • Powers of the Commission:  
    • Restricting activities influencing air quality
    • Investigating and conducting research related to environmental pollution impacting air quality
    • Preparing codes and guidelines to prevent and control air pollution
    • Issuing directions on matters including inspections, or regulation which will be binding on the concerned person or authority.  
    • It may impose and collect environment compensation from farmers causing pollution by stubble burning.  This compensation will be prescribed by the central government. 
  • The Commission will be the sole authority with jurisdiction over matters defined in the bill.
  • In case of any conflict, the orders or directions of the Commission will prevail over the orders of the respective state governments, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), state PCBs, and state-level statutory bodies.
  • Composition: The Commission will consist of: (i) a Chairperson, (ii) an officer of the rank of a Joint Secretary as the member-secretary and Chief Coordinating Officer, (iii) a currently serving or former Joint Secretary from the central government as a full-time member, (iii) three independent technical members with expertise related to air pollution, and (iv) three members from non-government organisations.  
    • The Commission will also include ex-officio members: (i) from the central government and concerned state governments, and (ii) technical members from CPCB, Indian Space Research Organisation, and NITI Aayog.  It may also appoint representatives of certain ministries
  • Tenure: The Chairperson and members of the Commission will have a tenure of three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.   

News Source: TH


Bill to Amend General Insurance Law 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Economy

In news The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha 

What are the Key amendments of the Bill?

  • The Bill will amend the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972. 
  • The Bill proposes three amendments.
  • The first aims to omit the provision (Section 10B) which requires that the Central government should hold not less than 51% of the equity capital in a specified insurer.
  • The second amendment is to insert a new Section 24B which will provide for ending the application of the Act to such a specified insurer on which the Centre ceases to have control. 
  • And, the third amendment is also to insert a new Section 31A, making a director (not a whole-time director), liable only for acts of omission or Commission.
  • Although the Bill allows the government to bring down its shareholding below 51%, it was clarified that this is not a Bill for privatisation.

Do you know? 

  • As on date, there are four public sector general insurance companies — National Insurance Company Limited, New India Assurance Company Limited, Oriental Insurance Company Limited, and United India Insurance Company Limited.
  • It is not yet decided in which one of the companies the government will lower its shareholding.

News Source: TH


BRICS plan to counter terror finalised

Part of: Prelims and GS -II- International Relations 

In news The BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan that will strengthen counter-terror cooperation among the members of the grouping has been finalised. 

  • The plan is one of the key deliverables during India’s Chairship of BRICS.
  • The Plan will be adopted at the meeting of BRICS National Security Advisors scheduled in Aug 2021.
  • The Action Plan is aimed at further strengthening result oriented cooperation between BRICS countries in areas such as preventing and combating terrorism, radicalisation, financing of terrorism, misuse of internet by terrorists, and curbing travel of terrorists.

What is BRICS Counter Terrorism Strategy? 

  • BRICS unveiled a counter-terrorism strategy to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the member countries for effectively combating the threat.
  • The new strategy was adopted at the bloc’s annual summit which was held virtually in November 2020. 
  • Aim of the strategy: To improve the practical cooperation among security and law-enforcement authorities of the member nations to prevent and combat terrorism, including by sharing timely and accurate information.
  • Focus: To “suppress” the facilitation of terrorist groups, entities and associated persons by not making available financial and material resources to them.
  • The BRICS also resolved to counter “extremist narratives” conducive to terrorism and vowed to take steps to ensure that the Internet and social media platforms are not used for recruitment and radicalisation by terror groups.
  • The BRICS high representatives for security shall review the implementation of this strategy. 
  • Implemented by: The BRICS counter-terrorism working group (CTWG).
  • Significance: These efforts will help prevent “further geographical expansion of terrorism” and address the threats posed by terrorists returning from conflict zones to countries of departure or travelling to third countries.

News Source: TH 


Delta Variant as contagious as Chicken Pox: CDC document

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Health 

In news According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  document, the Delta variant of the coronavirus is as contagious as chickenpox. 

About Delta variant 

  • SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2, is a variant of lineage B.1.617 of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 
  • It was first detected in India in late 2020. 
  • The WHO named it the Delta variant on 31 May 2021.  

Key findings of the Document 

  • Delta variant probably causes more severe disease than past strains. 
  • A review of findings from other countries shows that each person with Delta infects on average eight others, making it as transmissible as chickenpox but still less than measles.
  • The breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals may be as transmissible as unvaccinated cases. Also, the breakthrough infections in vaccinated people are highly contagious. 
    • A breakthrough infection occurs when someone who is fully vaccinated contracts the virus. Such infections are to be expected with any vaccines since they are never 100 percent effective at blocking infection
  • Vaccine efficacy estimates vary across countries, but the CDC estimates the risk of severe disease or death is reduced 10-fold or greater in the vaccinated person, while risk of infection is reduced three-fold or greater.

Do you know? 

  • Experts rely on a number called the cycle threshold (Ct) value to indicate how much virus an infected person harbours, with lower numbers indicating higher viral load.

News Source: TH 


International Tiger Day

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Biodiversity 

In news International Tiger Day is celebrated on July 29 every year to raise awareness about the dwindling population of the Tiger.

  • It is the anniversary of the agreement of Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia in 2010.
  • At the Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010, leaders of 13 tiger range countries resolved to do more for the tiger and embarked on efforts to double its number in the wild, with a popular slogan ‘T X 2’.
  • It was declared by representatives that the tiger populated countries would make efforts to double the tiger population by the year 2022.

Tiger Conservation and India 

  • India is the land of royal tigers and current tiger population stands at 2967 which is 70% of the global tiger population.
  • Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers at 526, closely followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has launched the M-STrIPES (Monitoring System for Tigers – Intensive Protection and Ecological Status), a mobile monitoring system for forest guards.
  • The Project Tiger, launched way back in 1973, has grown to more than 50 reserves amounting to almost 2.2% of the country’s geographical area.

Protection Status

  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.
  • IUCN Red List: Endangered.
  • CITES: Appendix I.

Do You Know? 

  • As per the World Wide Fund for Nature, the number of tigers dropped by 95% over the past 150 years.
  • The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) program of the World Bank, brought global partners together to strengthen the tiger agenda.
  • Over the years, the initiative has institutionalised itself as a separate entity in the form of the Global Tiger Initiative Council (GTIC), with its two arms –the Global Tiger Forum and the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program.

News Source: TH 


I-MESA: Social Audit of Social Sector Schemes

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Economy

In news The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated a scheme,  Information-Monitoring, Evaluation and Social Audit (I-MESA) in FY 2021-22.

About the I-MESA Scheme

  • Under this scheme, Social Audits are to be conducted for all the schemes of the Department starting FY 2021-22.
  • These social audits are done through Social Audit Units (SAU) of the States and National Institute for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.

What are Important Schemes of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment? 

  • Credit Enhancement Guarantee Scheme for the Scheduled Castes (SCs)
  • National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC)
  • National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC)
  • Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS)
  • Venture Capital Fund For Scheduled Castes
  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme for implementation of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
  • Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY)

What is Social Audit? 

  • Social Audit is the audit of a scheme jointly by the Government and the people, especially by those who are affected by the scheme or its beneficiaries.
  • Benefits: It is a powerful tool to promote transparency, accountability and people’s participation in the schemes meant for them.
  • A social audit helps to narrow gaps between vision/goal and reality, between efficiency and effectiveness.

News Source: PIB 


(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Parliament and State legislatures—conduct of business 

Law and lawmakers: On criminal acts and legislative privilege

Context: Recently, Supreme Court ruled that legislative privilege cannot be extended to provide legal immunity to criminal acts committed by lawmakers in Legislature.

The privileges and immunities enjoyed by the MPs and MLAs include:

  1. Freedom of speech in the house which means they cannot be prosecuted for saying or doing anything in the house.
  2. They have the freedom from arrest 40 days prior or after a session of legislature or during the session or from the premises of the legislature without the permission of the house.
  3. The legislature has the power to regulate its internal affairs — that covers the behaviour including disruptions, vandalism and violence — of the house. Police or courts cannot interfere.

However, the members can be punished for the breach of privileges by the house itself. Punishment includes imprisonment, fine or suspension.

Brief Background of the Case

  • The case relates to criminal prosecution against six MLAs of the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
  • They were being prosecuted for creating ruckus in Kerala Assembly in 2015 (when they were in opposition).
  • The Kerala government, when LDF came to power, moved to withdraw the cases against them. 
    • Kerala State government argued that the criminal prosecution of MLAs was not sustainable because the acts committed by them on the floor of assembly are protected by legislative privileges under Article 194 of the Constitution 
  • The recent SC judgement has denied this permission to withdraw the cases.
  • Supreme Court ruled elected representatives could no longer go scot-free for acts of vandalism and violence committed inside a house claiming immunity provided under the Constitution.
  • The change is a Supreme Court’s judgment. It does not directly deal with Parliament but with state legislatures 

Judgment assumes National Significance because

SC made certain observations that may form the behavioural guide for all elected representatives including the MPs & MLAs

  • “The destruction of property in the assembly cannot be equated to freedom of speech in the house”
  • An alleged act of destroying public property within the House cannot be considered “essential” for their legislative functions.
  • “Privileges and immunity are not a gateway to claim exemptions from criminal law and that would be a betrayal to the citizens.”
  • “The purpose of bestowing privileges on legislators is to enable them to perform their legislative functions without hindrance or without fear or favour. Legislators should act within the parameters of the public trust imposed on them to do their duties.”

Way Ahead

  • Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Harivansh had, in 2020, mooted an idea of evolving a ‘Parliament Disruption Index’. The idea had emerged at the conference of presiding offices of legislative bodies in Dehradun on November 2019 in the backdrop of increasing disruptions in Parliament.
  • In the Lok Sabha, some members proposed automatic suspension of members who cause disruption and rush to the Well of the House. But the proposals are still in a nascent stage.

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Changes to deposit insurance laws

Context: Recent troubles for depositors in getting immediate access to their funds in banks such as Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank, Yes Bank and Lakshmi Vilas Bank has put spotlight on the subject of deposit insurance

What is deposit insurance?

  • Currently, in an unlikely event of a bank failing in India, a depositor has a claim to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh per account as insurance cover. 
  • The cover of Rs 5 lakh per depositor is provided by the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), which is a fully owned subsidiary of RBI
  • Depositors having more than Rs 5 lakh in their account have no legal recourse to recover funds in case a bank collapses. 
  • While the depositors enjoy the highest safety on their funds parked with banks, unlike the equity and bond investors in the banks, an element of risk always lurks on their deposits in case a bank collapses.

Who pays for this insurance?

  • Deposits in public and private sector banks, local area banks, small finance banks, regional rural banks, cooperative banks, Indian branches of foreign banks and payments banks are all insured by the DICGC. 
  • The premium for this insurance is paid by banks to the DICGC, and not be passed on to depositors. 
  • Banks currently pay a minimum of 10 paise on every Rs 100 worth deposits to the DICGC as premium for the insurance cover, which is now being raised to a minimum of 12 paise.
  • In 2020, the government raised the insurance amount to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh. Prior to that, the DICGC had revised the deposit insurance cover to Rs 1 lakh on May 1, 1993 — raising it from Rs 30,000, which had been the cover from 1980 onward.

What are the changes mooted by the government?

  • The Union Cabinet recently cleared changes to the deposit insurance laws to provide funds up to Rs 5 lakh to an account holder within 90 days in the event of a bank coming under the moratorium imposed by the RBI.
  • The Centre plans to introduce the above provision through Deposit Insurance & Credit Guarantee Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2021.

How will the fresh changes benefit account holders?

  • Earlier, account holders had to wait for years till the liquidation or restructuring of a distressed lender to get their deposits that are insured against default. 
  • According to the finance ministry, depositors normally end up waiting for 8-10 years before they are able to access their deposits in a distressed bank only after its complete liquidation. 
  • With the changes being proposed to the law, now depositors will get insurance money within 90 days, without waiting for eventual liquidation of the distressed banks.
  • Within the first 45 days of the bank being put under moratorium, the DICGC would collect all information relating to deposit accounts. 
  • In the next 45 days, it will review the information and repay depositors closer to the 90th day. 
  • This will cover banks already under moratorium and those that could come under moratorium.
  • Immediate benefit: This will be beneficial to depositors of PMC Bank, under moratorium since September 2019, with depositors not being able to access funds beyond Rs 1 lakh.

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.

Q.1 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  document, which of the following variant of the coronavirus is as contagious as chickenpox?

  1. Kappa
  2. Lamda
  3. Delta
  4. Alpha

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Information-Monitoring, Evaluation and Social Audit (I-MESA):

  1. Social Audits are to be conducted for all the schemes of the Department starting FY 2021-22.
  2. These social audits are done through Social Audit Units (SAU) of the States and National Institute for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.

Select the correct statements

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

Q.3  Tiger is included under which of the following IUCN category? 

  1. Endangered 
  2. Vulnerable 
  3. Threatened 
  4. Least concern 

ANSWERS FOR 30th July 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 B
3 D

Must Read

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