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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 22 April 2020

Table of Contents:

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

GS Paper 2:

1. Vijay Mallya loses extradition appeal in UK.

2. World Press Freedom Index 2020.

3. Why oil prices fell below zero?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. NGT raises concern over COVID-19 bio-medical waste disposal.

2. Sujalam Sufalam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Daporijo Bridge.

2. Earth Day.

3. Saiyam.

4. World Book Day.

5. CIVIL SERVICES DAY.

6. Technology Development Board.

7. Sepsis.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Vijay Mallya loses extradition appeal in UK

What to study?

For Prelims: Who is a fugitive economic offender, about PMLA, ED and CBI.

For Mains: Significance of the latest ruling, impact and way ahead.

Context: A UK High Court has dismissed fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s appeal against extradition to India.

What’s the issue?

Mallya and his firm – Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, have come under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) for loan defaults of over Rs 10,000 crore to a consortium of Indian banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI).

While Mallya is facing charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy, money laundering and diversion of loan funds, a few of his companies including Kingfisher Airlines are facing charges of violations of the Companies Act 2013 and Sebi norms. Mallya, has denied any wrongdoing.

Charges against Mallya:

ED has charged Mallya under sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

CBI has charged Mallya under section 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and under sections 13 (1) (d) and 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

What are the options for Vijay Mallya now?

  1. Mallya now has 14 days to apply to the UK High Court for permission for an application to certify that a point of law of general public importance has been overlooked by both the magistrate court and the high court.
  2. If the High Court gives such a permission, he can then appeal against the extradition order in the UK Supreme Court.
  3. In case the High Court refuses the permission, Mallya will not be able to appeal in the Supreme Court.
  4. In such a situation, his case will go to the UK secretary of state, Home Department for a final decision on extradition. If secretary gives her consent, Mallya can be extradited to India.

First person to be declared a fugitive offender:

Vijay Mallya is also the first person to be declared a fugitive offender under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

Definition- Fugitive Economic Offender:

A person can be named an offender under this law if there is an arrest warrant against him or her for involvement in economic offences involving at least Rs. 100 crore or more and has fled from India to escape legal action.

The procedure:

  1. The investigating agencies have to file an application in a Special Court under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002 containing details of the properties to be confiscated, and any information about the person’s whereabouts.
  2. The Special Court will issue a notice for the person to appear at a specified place and date at least six weeks from the issue of notice.
  3. Proceedings will be terminated if the person appears. If not the person would be declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender based on the evidence filed by the investigating agencies.
  4. The person who is declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender can challenge the proclamation in the High Court within 30 days of such declaration according to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who is a fugitive economic offender?
  2. Composition and powers of ED.
  3. Establishment and powers of CBI.
  4. What is PMLA?
  5. Overview of Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance and key provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.

World Press Freedom Index 2020

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About the index and its indicators, performance of India and other countries and measures to ensure freedom of press.

Context: The World Press Freedom Index 2020 has been released by the media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

 Norway ranks first for the fourth consecutive year and Finland and Denmark in second and third place.

 Impact of Coronavirus pandemic:

  1. The coronavirus pandemic may threaten press freedom and worsen the crises that reporters around the world are facing.
  2. The pandemic has already redefined norms. The pandemic has allowed governments to take advantage of the fact that politics are on hold, the public is stunned and protests are out of the question, in order to impose measures that would be impossible in normal times.
  3. United States and Brazil were becoming models of hostility toward the news media.
  4. China, Iran and Iraq are criticised for censoring coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

 India’s performance:

  1. India has dropped two places to be ranked 142nd.
  2. With no murders of journalists in India in 2019, as against six in 2018, the security situation for the country’s media might seem, on the face of it, to have improved.

About World Press Freedom Index:

  1. Published annually by Reporters Without Borders since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries.
  2. It is based on an evaluation of media freedom that measures pluralism, media independence, the quality of the legal framework and the safety of journalists.
  3. It also includes indicators of the level of media freedom violations in each region.
  4. It is compiled by means of a questionnaire in 20 languages that is completed by experts all over the world. This qualitative analysis is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Reporters Without Borders.
  2. Performance of India and its neighbours.
  3. Top and bottom performers.
  4. Comparison of countries and their performance in previous years.

Mains Link:

The “coordinated hate campaigns” waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that annoy Hindutva followers are “alarming”. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Why oil prices fell below zero?

What to study?

For Prelims: Meaning of below zero prices, what is WTI, how oil prices are determined?

For Mains: Why oil prices are falling, Impact of the fall in prices, implications on other countries including India, measures to address the situation.

What’s the issue?

Prices of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) in the US, recently fell to “minus” $40.32 a barrel.

  • This the lowest crude oil price ever recorded (the previous lowest was immediately after World War II).
  • At this price, the seller of crude oil would be paying the buyer $40 for each barrel that is bought.

But, What Negative Oil Prices Really Mean?

Firstly, WTI oil is traded as futures contracts in the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) where traders buy and sell monthly futures such as, for instance, May futures, June futures and so on.

The contract for West Texas intermediate crude, or WTI, is the benchmark for US crude oil prices. On Monday, it crashed 300 per cent from US$17.85 a barrel to minus US$37.63.

  1. The price of a barrel of crude varies based on factors such as supply, demand and quality. Supply of fuel has been far above demand since the coronavirus forced billions of people to stop travelling.
  2. Because of oversupply, storage tanks for WTI are becoming so full it is difficult to find space.
  3. Each contract trades for a month, with the May contract due to expire on Tuesday. Investors holding May contracts didn’t want to take delivery of the oil and incur storage costs, and in the end had to pay people to take it off their hands.

 Why the oil prices are falling?

Situation prior to COVID- 19 outbreak:

  1. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak induced lockdowns across the world, crude oil prices had been falling over the past few months.
  2. The reason was too much supply and too little demand.
  3. In early March, Saudi Arabia and Russia disagreed over the production cuts required to keep prices stable.
  4. As a result, oil-exporting countries, led by Saudi Arabia, started undercutting each other on price while continuing to produce the same quantities of oil.
  5. This was an unsustainable strategy under normal circumstances but what made it even more calamitous was the growing spread of novel coronavirus disease, which, in turn, was sharply reducing economic activity and the demand for oil.

Post- lockdown:

  1. With each passing day, the developed countries were falling prey to COVID-19 and with each lockdown, there were fewer flights, cars and industries etc. using oil.
  2. This meant that the supply-demand mismatch continued to worsen right through March and April.

How will this impact India?

The Indian crude oil basket does not comprise WTI — it only has Brent and oil from some of the Gulf countries — so there is no direct impact.

But oil is traded globally and weakness in WTI is mirrored in the falling prices of the Indian basket as well.

There are two ways in which this lower price can help India:

  1. If the government passes on the lower prices to consumers, then, whenever the economic recovery starts in India, individual consumption will be boosted.
  2. If, on the other hand, governments (both at the Centre and the states) decide to levy higher taxes on oil, it can boost government revenues.

What is Benchmark crude?

It is a crude oil that serves as a reference price for buyers and sellers of crude oil.

There are three primary benchmarks, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), Brent Blend, and Dubai Crude.

WTIvsBrent

Other well-known blends include the OPEC Reference Basket used by OPEC, Tapis Crude which is traded in Singapore, Bonny Light used in Nigeria, Urals oil used in Russia and Mexico’s Isthmus.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Important oil and gas exploration blocks in India.
  2. Difference between WTI, Brent and Dubai Crude.
  3. Largest oil producers and exporters.
  4. India’s oil imports.
  5. How oil is traded?

Mains Link:

What do negative oil prices mean for the economy and consumers? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

NGT raises concern over COVID-19 bio-medical waste disposal

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016, about NGT.

For Mains: Concerns expressed by NGT, measures to address them.

Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has urged the State Pollution Control Board and Pollution Control Committee to put in serious efforts to mitigate possible risk of unscientific disposal of the bio-medical waste arising out of the handling of the COVID-19 disease.

 What’s the concern now?

There are concerns regarding unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste by unauthorised healthcare facilities.

Only 1.1 lakh out of 2.7 lakh healthcare facilities are authorised under the Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 so far.

What has the tribunal said?

  1. There are gaps in compliance of the Bio Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 which are applicable to the disposal of the bio-medical waste generated out of handling a viral disease.
  2. The State PCBS/PCCS have to make serious efforts to bridge the gap to mitigate possible risk in terms of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste and enforce rule of law.
  3. There is need for revision of the guidelines for ‘Handling, Treatment and Disposal of Waste Generated during Treatment, Diagnosis, Quarantine of COVID-19 Patients’ issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recently.

Need of the hour:

  1. All aspects of scientific disposal of liquid and solid waste management should be taken care of not only at institution level but also at individual levels, such as manner of disposal of used Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), used bags, gloves, goggles, without the same getting mixed with other municipal solid waste causing contamination.
  2. The effectiveness of the monitoring mechanism, including securing information should be reviewed by way of electronic manifest system from the handlers of such waste and its online reporting by the State PCBS or PCCS by developing necessary software.
  3. There is the need to create awareness by special awareness programmes, organising training in concerned local bodies, health departments, providing workers handling COVID-19 waste with adequate protective gear, adequate coordination with media and other concerned regulatory authorities.

Salient features of BMW Management Rules, 2016:

  1. The ambit of the rules has been expanded to include vaccination camps, blood donation camps, surgical camps or any other healthcare activity.
  2. It calls for Phase-out the use of chlorinated plastic bags, gloves and blood bags within two years.
  3. It calls for Pre-treatment of the laboratory waste, microbiological waste, blood samples and blood bags through disinfection or sterilisation on-site.
  4. It seeks to Provide training to all its health care workers and immunise all health workers regularly.
  5. It seeks to Establish a Bar-Code System for bags or containers containing bio-medical waste for disposal.
  6. As per the rules, Bio-medical waste has been classified in to 4 categories instead 10 to improve the segregation of waste at source.
  7. As per the rules, State Government shall provide land for setting up common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Sujalam Sufalam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features, goals and targets of the scheme.

For Mains: Need for and significance of the scheme.

Context: Amid the lockdown for the coronavirus outbreak, Gujarat government has given its the green signal for the third edition ”Sujalam Sufalam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan’‘, a conservation plan to deepen water bodies in the state before monsoon.

The scheme, which will continue till June 10, will see the deepening of lakes, check dams and rivers by removing silt, and it will be done with people”s participation as well as under MNREGA.

Background:

The scheme was started in 2018 after a weak monsoon, and till date, the state”s water storage capacity has increased by 23,000 lakh cubic feet due to deepening pf lakes, check-dams, rivers and reservoirs.

About Sujalam Sufalam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan:

  • Launched in 2018, the scheme aims to deepen water bodies in the state to increase storage of rainwater to be used during times of scarcity.
  • It involves cleaning and desilting of riverfronts, sprucing up of Irrigation canals. It also involves deepening of lakes, tanks and reservoirs.
  • The drive runs on a Public Private Partnership mode and contribution from the government shall remain 60% of the expenditure of the work while 40% share will be from people’s contribution.

Sources: pib.

 


Facts for Prelims


Daporijo Bridge:

Context: The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed the Daporijo bridge over Subansiri river in Arunachal Pradesh in a record span of just 27 days.

The bridge links roads leading upto the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China.

The Subansiri River is a tributary of the Brahmaputra River in the Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

The Subansiri is the largest tributary of the Brahmaputra.

Earth Day:

It is an annual event, organized to show support for environmental protection around the world on April 22.

Earth Day was founded by American senator Gaylord Nelson for environmental education.

This day commenced on April 22, 1970. In the year 2020, the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day is being celebrated.

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action.

Earth Day Network (EDN) is the not for profit organisation that leads Earth Day worldwide.

Saiyam:

  • It is a mobile application developed by the Pune Municipal Corporation under Smart Cities Mission to effectively track the home-quarantined citizens and ensure that they are staying in the home.
  • The Mobile Application has GPS tracking so that whenever quarantined citizens leave their homes, City Administration gets alerted and the local ward or the local police station gets informed, who then visit the family.

World Book Day:

Also known as World Book and Copyright Day, or International Day of the Book, it is an annual event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing, and copyright.

World Book Day was first celebrated on 23 April 1995.

On April 23, UNESCO will celebrate the 25th edition of World Book and Copyright Day.

CIVIL SERVICES DAY:

Observed on 21st April every year.

Why 21st April? On this day in 1947, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel addressed the first batch of probationers at the All India Administrative Service Training School at Metcalfe House, New Delhi in 1947. In his speech he called civil servants as the steel frame of India.

Objective: To make civil servants re-dedicate themselves to the cause of the citizens and renew their commitment to public service.

On this day, the ‘Prime Minister Award for Excellence in Public Administration’ is given. The award is given in three categories, dividing the states and UTs into different categories. The award was instituted in 2006.

About Technology Development Board:

It is a statutory body established by Technology Development Board Act, 1995.

Objective: To promote development and commercialization of indigenous technology and adaptation of imported technology for much wider application.

Roles and functions of the board:

  1. Encourage enterprises to take up technology-oriented products.
  2. Provide equity capital or loans to industrial concerns and financial assistance to research and development institutions.

Sepsis:

  • Sepsis occurs when chemicals released in the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. This can cause a cascade of changes that damage multiple organ systems, leading them to fail, sometimes even resulting in death.
  • Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, fast heart rate and mental confusion.

Why in News?

Sepsivac- the Drug for sepsis will be tested for COVID-19.

 


Insights Current Affairs Analysis (ICAN) by IAS Topper