Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 January 2017
Paper -2 : Indian polity
Republic Day 2017
India is celebrating its 68th Republic Day this year. Republic day in India is celebrated every year on 26th of January to honour the Constitution of India as it came into force on the same day in the year 1950.
- The chief guest on Republic Day of India 2017 will be Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Why January 26th?
The Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution on January 26, 1950, a date specially chosen to coincide with the anniversary of ‘Purna Swaraj Diwas’. January 26, 1930 was marked as ‘Purna Swaraj Diwas’, or the day the nation would attain complete freedom from its colonisers by the Congress.
- The members of the drafting committee felt that the birth of the constitution should be observed on a day that held some significance in their fight for independence. When India was ultimately granted freedom by the British in 1947, but on August 15 and not January 26, the date was instead assigned to celebrating India’s Republic Day.
- This was the day the Indian Independence Act was consequently repealed and India was established as a democratic republic, no longer a dominion of the British Crown.
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Transparency puts India on list for failing to curb corruption
The annual index of Transparency International for the year 2016 has been released.
Transparency International, the Berlin-based anti-graft organisation has used World Bank data, the World Economic Forum and other institutions to rank 176 countries by perceived levels of corruption in public sector. The score runs from zero, which is highly corrupt, to 100, which is very clean.
- The index has placed India on the watch list for its inability to curb mega corruption scandals and petty bribery.
- The index has placed India with Brazil and China in the 40th position. The index notes that India’s condition showed growth with inequality.
- India’s score has improved by two points from 38 in 2015.
- As per the report, the impact of corruption on poverty, illiteracy and policy brutality showed that not only was the economy growing but so was inequality.
Performance of other countries:
- Latest rankings put New Zealand and Denmark in joint first place with a score of 90, followed by Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore, Netherlands and Canada.
- At the bottom of the index, Somalia was ranked the most corrupt country.
- South Asia has performed poorly. Bangladesh at 27th and Nepal at 29th positions were slotted in the highly corrupt section.
- Pakistan, at 32, also came in the red zone. Afghanistan ranked 15th was in the “highly corrupt” list with South Sudan, North Korea and Libya.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
RBI stops investments to ‘non-cooperative countries’
Reserve Bank has prohibited Indian entities from making direct investments in any entity located in ‘non co-operative countries and territories’, as identified by the inter-governmental body FATF.
The prohibition on investment is “in order to align” instructions under FEMA with the objectives of the FATF. At present, there is no restriction on an Indian entity with regard to the countries where it can undertake Overseas Direct Investment.
What are non-cooperative countries?
The principal objective of the Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories (NCCT) Initiative was to reduce the vulnerability of the financial system to money laundering by ensuring that all financial centres adopt and implement measures for the prevention, detection and punishment of money laundering according to internationally recognised standards.
FATF was established in 1989. Its objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) currently comprises two regional organisations and 35 member jurisdictions, including India, US, UK, China and the European Commission.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
World’s first stable semi-synthetic organism created
Researchers have made a new ‘alien’ life-form with an expanded genetic code. The modified E.coli bacteria was made by scientists who introduced DNA molecules not found in nature to a common bacterium.
- The E. coli bugs are able to grow and reproduce as normal despite containing two extra letters in their genetic code, paving the way for entirely new artificial life forms to be created.
- The newly created bacteria now holds on to its human-created X and Y bases while it grows and divides, much like the natural A, C, G and T bases. The key, researchers say, was to tweak existing techniques.
Life’s genetic code has only ever contained four natural bases-A, T, C and G. These bases pair up to form two base pairs – the rungs of the DNA ladder – and they have simply been rearranged to create all life as we know it, from bacteria to humans.
How was the new bacterium created?
At first, they fine-tuned a nucleotide transporter (which carries the materials needed to copy artificial base pairs across the cell membrane) so that it wouldn’t make the bacteria “sick” while using the new letters. They also made their Y letter easier to copy. And as a sort of insurance, the scientists used CRISPR gene editing to make their organism reject genetic sequences that don’t have X and Y.
The researchers describe the modified microbes as an opportunity to ‘create organisms with wholly unnatural attributes and traits not found elsewhere in nature.’
In future, the research could lead to the creation of microbes capable of manufacturing entirely new proteins, which could provide leads to new medicines and nanotechnology breakthroughs.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
GM mosquito trials to control dengue, chikungunya launched
Outdoor caged trials by Oxitec to demonstrate the efficiency of genetically modified mosquitoes to suppress wild female Aedes aegypti mosquito populations that transmit dengue, chikungunya and Zika were launched on January 23 in Dawalwadi, Badnapur, in Maharashtra’s Jalna district.
Dengue is estimated to infect 5.8 million people in India every year, costing the country over $1B annually. Outbreaks of chikungunya, a viral disease for which no treatment is available, have been increasingly reported in India. Both diseases are transmitted by local populations of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
- Oxitec’s technology uses genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry a dominant lethal gene. When male GM mosquitoes mate with wild female mosquitoes the lethal gene is passed on to offspring. The lethal gene in the offspring kills the larvae before they reach adulthood.
- Since male mosquitoes do not bite humans, the release of GM males will not increase the risk of dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
- First released in Brazil, Oxitec’s mosquitoes have demonstrated to reduce the local populations by more than 90%, whereas insecticides only affect 30%. In addition, this strategy only targets a specific mosquito strain and does not produce any toxic compounds that could affect their predators, making Oxitec’s the most eco-friendly solution so far to control the spread of infectious diseases.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) itself backed the engineered mosquitoes during last year’s Zika outbreak. The company released 10,000 of them in one of the Cayman Islands, drastically reducing the local mosquito population.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
Jeevan Raksha Padak Awards – 2016:
- The President of India has approved the conferment of Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards for the year 2016.
- Jeevan Raksha Padak series of awards are given to a person for meritorious act of humane nature in saving the life of a person.
- The award is given in three categories, namely, Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak, Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak and Jeevan Raksha Padak.
- Persons of either sex in all walks of life are eligible for these awards. The award can also be conferred posthumously.
- The decoration of the award (medal, certificate signed by the Home Minister and demand draft for lump sum monetary allowance) is presented to the awardee in due course by the respective State Government to which the awardee belongs.
Padma Awards 2017:
- On the eve of Republic Day, government has announced the list for the Padma Awards 2017.
- The list comprises 7 Padma Vibhushan, 7 Padma Bhushan and 75 Padma Shri awardees.
- The Padma awards are conferred by the President at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan in March/April every year.
- Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
- The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.
- ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field.
National Voter’s Day:
- The Election Commission of India celebrated 7th National Voters’ Day (NVD) across the country on 25th January.
- Theme: Empowering Young and Future Voters.
- On this day in 1950, the Election Commission of India was founded. The ECI observes National Voters Day to create awareness on voting and voter rights.