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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 21 July 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

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

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. Jyotirao Phule.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. What is plea bargaining and how does it work?

2. National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Mega Food Park.

2. What is Oxford university’s ChAdOx1 Covid-19 vaccine.

3. RAISE initiative.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Bathynomus raksasa.

2. Manodarpan

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

Jyotirao Phule

Context:

The Maharashtra government has claimed it has waived off loans of 83% out of total eligible farmers under the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule crop loan waiver scheme amounting to ₹17,646 crore.

Key features of the scheme:

Announced in December 2019, it aims to write off crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh (taken between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2019) which has not been repaid till September 30, 2019.

About Jyotirao Phule:

Born in 1827 in Satara district of Maharashtra.

Phule was given the title of Mahatma on May 11, 1888, by Vithalrao Krishnaji Vandekar, a Maharashtrian social activist.

Social reforms and key contributions:

  1. His work is related mainly to eradication of untouchability and caste system, emancipation and empowerment of women, reform of Hindu family life.
  2. Along with his wife, Savitribai Phule, he is regarded as pioneers of women’s education in India.
  3. The couples were the first native Indians to open the first indigenously-run school for girls in India in August 1848 at Pune in Maharashtra.
  4. Later, the Phules started schools for children from the then untouchable castes such as Mahar and Mang.
  5. In 1863, he opened a home for pregnant Brahmin widows to give birth in a safe and secure place.
  6. He opened an orphanage home to avoid infanticide. In this regard, he is believed to be the first Hindu to start an orphanage for the unfortunate children.
  7. In 1868, Jyotirao decided to construct a common bathing tank outside his house to exhibit his embracing attitude towards all human beings and wished to dine with everyone, regardless of their caste.
  8. In 1873, Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj, or the Society of Seekers of Truth, for the rights of depressed classes, to denounce the caste system and to spread rational thinking.

His famous works:

Tritiya Ratna (1855), Gulamgiri (1873), Shetkarayacha Aasud, or Cultivator’s Whipcord (1881), Satyashodhak Samajokt Mangalashtakasah Sarva Puja-vidhi (1887).

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Important literary works of Mahatma Phule.
  2. Who gave him the title Phule?
  3. Objectives of Satyashodhak Samaj.
  4. Which state has launched a scheme on Jyotirao Phule and what is it related to?
  5. Notable contributions of Savitribai Phule.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

What is plea bargaining and how does it work?

Context:

Many members of the Tablighi Jamaat belonging to different countries have obtained release from court cases in recent days by means of plea bargaining.

What is Plea Bargaining?

It refers to a person charged with a criminal offence negotiating with the prosecution for a lesser punishment than what is provided in law by pleading guilty to a less serious offence.

  • It primarily involves pre-trial negotiations between the accused and the prosecutor. It may involve bargaining on the charge or in the quantum of sentence.

When was it introduced in India?

Plea bargaining was introduced in 2006 as part of a set of amendments to the CrPC as Chapter XXI-A, containing Sections 265A to 265L.

In what circumstances is it allowed? How does it work?

In India, a plea bargaining process can be initiated only by the accused;

  • The accused will have to apply to the court for invoking the benefit of bargaining.
  • The applicant should state that it is a voluntary preference and that he has understood the nature and extent of punishment provided in law for the offence.
  • The court would then issue notice to the prosecutor and the complainant or victim, if any, for a hearing.
  • The voluntary nature of the application must be ascertained by the judge in an in-camera hearing at which the other side should not be present.
  • Thereafter, the court may permit the prosecutor, the investigating officer and the victim to hold a meeting for a “satisfactory disposition of the case”.
  • The outcome may involve payment of compensation and other expenses to the victim by the accused.
  • Once mutual satisfaction is reached, the court shall formalise the arrangement by way of a report signed by all the parties and the presiding officer.
  • The accused may be sentenced to a prison term that is half the minimum period fixed for the offence. If there is no minimum term prescribed, the sentence should run up to one-fourth of the maximum sentence stipulated in law.

Cases for which the practice is allowed are limited:

  • Only someone who has been charge sheeted for an offence that does not attract the death sentence, life sentence or a prison term above seven years can make use of the scheme under Chapter XXI-A.
  • It is also applicable to private complaints of which a criminal court has taken cognisance.
  • It is not available for those that involve offences affecting the “socio-economic conditions” of the country, or committed against a woman or a child below the age of 14.

What is the rationale for the scheme?

The Justice Malimath Committee on reforms of the criminal justice system endorsed the various recommendations of the Law Commission with regard to plea bargaining.

Advantages:

  1. Ensure speedy trial.
  2. end uncertainty over the outcome of criminal cases.
  3. save litigation costs and relieve the parties of anxiety.
  4. Impact on conviction rates.
  5. Help offenders make a fresh start in life.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Justice Malimath Committee is related to?
  2. When was plea bargaining introduced in India?
  3. Is it covered under the CrPC?
  4. Important subjects under the concurrent list.

Mains Link:

What is plea bargaining? How does it work? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA)

Context:

The audit regulator, National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), has constituted a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) under the Chairmanship of R Narayanaswamy, Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru.

Composition:

Seven members, including the Chairman.

Functions:

  • Aid and advise the Executive Body of the NFRA on issues related to the drafts of accounting standards and auditing standards.
  • Provide inputs from the perspectives of users, preparers and auditors of financial statements.

About NFRA:

National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) was constituted on 1st October, 2018 under section 132 (1) of the Companies Act, 2013.

Why was it needed?

In the wake of accounting scams, a need was felt to establish an independent regulator for enforcement of auditing standards and ensuring the quality of audits so as to enhance investor and public confidence in financial disclosures of companies.

Composition:

The Companies Act requires the NFRA to have a chairperson who will be appointed by the Central Government and a maximum of 15 members.

Functions and Duties:

  1. Recommend accounting and auditing policies and standards to be adopted by companies for approval by the Central Government;
  2. Monitor and enforce compliance with accounting standards and auditing standards;
  3. Oversee the quality of service of the professions associated with ensuring compliance with such standards and suggest measures for improvement in the quality of service;
  4. Perform such other functions and duties as may be necessary or incidental to the aforesaid functions and duties.

Powers:

  • It can probe listed companies and those unlisted public companies having paid-up capital of no less than Rs 500 crore or annual turnover of no less than Rs 1,000 crore.
  • It can investigate professional misconduct committed by members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) for prescribed class of body corporate or persons.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Provisions under which NFRA was constituted?
  2. About ICAI.
  3. Composition of NFRA.
  4. Companies Act 2013- key provisions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the key functions of NFRA and write a note on its significance.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Mega Food Park

Context:

Zoram Mega food park launched in Mizoram, to benefit 25,000 farmers and create 5,000 jobs.

  • This is the first Mega Food Park operationalized in the state of Mizoram.

About Mega Food Parks scheme:

Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country since 2008.

  • It aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers.
  • These food parks give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables.

Funding: A maximum grant of Rs 50 crore is given for setting up a MFP, in minimum 50 acres of contiguous land with only 50% contribution to the total project cost.

Mode of operation:

The Scheme has a cluster based approach based on a hub and spokes model.

  • It includes creation of infrastructure for primary processing and storage near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) and common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre (CPC).

mega_food_park

Implementation:

Implemented by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which is a Body Corporate registered under the Companies Act.

  • State Government, State Government entities and Cooperatives are not required to form a separate SPV for implementation of Mega Food Park project.
  • Subject to fulfillment of the conditions of the Scheme Guidelines, the funds are released to the SPVs.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Functional Mega Food Parks in India.
  2. First Mega Food Park.
  3. Which ministry administers the scheme.
  4. Mizoram’s first mega food park.
  5. Funding under the scheme.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the significance of Mega Food Parks scheme.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: 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.

What is Oxford university’s ChAdOx1 Covid-19 vaccine?

ChAdOx1 COVID-9 was jointly developed by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

It has been found to be safe and induced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials.

About the Vaccine and how was it developed?

The vaccine belongs to a category called non-replicating viral vector vaccines.

This vaccine is made from a genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees.

  • Scientists did this by transferring the genetic instructions of the coronavirus’ “spike protein” – the crucial tool it uses to invade human cells – to the vaccine. This was done so that the vaccine resembles the coronavirus and the immune system can learn how to attack it.

covid_19_vaccin

How it works?

The adenovirus, genetically modified so that it cannot replicate in humans, will enter the cell and release the code to make only the spike protein.

The body’s immune system is expected to recognise the spike protein as a potentially harmful foreign substance, and starts building antibodies against it.

  • Once immunity is built, the antibodies will attack the real virus if it tries to infect the body.

Insta Concepts:

When someone is infected with the Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2), the reason it spreads in the body easily is because of the spikes on its surface. These spikes, known as the ‘spike protein’, allow the virus to penetrate cells and, thereafter, multiply.

What happens next?

Globally, Oxford and AstraZeneca have already begun phase III trials in Brazil, targeting 5,000 volunteers. A similar trial in South Africa is also expected to be underway.

Type of vaccines:

Inactivated: These are vaccines made by using particles of the Covid-19 virus that were killed, making them unable to infect or replicate. Injecting particular doses of these particles serves to build immunity by helping the body create antibodies against the dead virus.

Non-replicating viral vector: It uses a weakened, genetically modified version of a different virus to carry the Covid-19 spike protein.

Protein subunit: This vaccine uses a part of the virus to build an immune response in a targeted fashion. In this case, the part of the virus being targeted would be the spike protein.

RNA: Such vaccines use the messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules that tell cells what proteins to build. The mRNA, in this case, is coded to tell the cells to recreate the spike protein. Once it is injected, the cells will use the mRNA’s instructions, creating copies of the spike protein, which in turn is expected to prompt the immune cells to create antibodies to fight it.

DNA: These vaccines use genetically engineered DNA molecules that, again, are coded with the antigen against which the immune response is to be built.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. How SARS-CoV-2 spreads in the body?
  2. What are T- cells?
  3. Types of vaccines.
  4. How ChAdOx1 Covid-19 vaccine was made?
  5. How vaccines work?

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

RAISE initiative

Context:

“Retrofit of Air-conditioning to improve Indoor Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency” (RAISE) national programme has been launched.

  • It is a joint initiative of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and the S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) MAITREE Program.

Need for and significance of the programme:

Poor air quality has been a concern in India for quite some time and has become more important in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • As people return to their offices and public spaces, maintaining good indoor air quality is essential for occupant comfort, well-being, productivity and the overall public health.

RAISE initiative can potentially alleviate the issue of bad air quality in workspaces across the nation and pioneer ways to make them healthier and greener.

Market Integration and Transformation Program for Energy Efficiency (MAITREE) program:

It is a part of the US-India bilateral Partnership between the Ministry of Power and USAID and is aimed at accelerating the adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency as a standard practice within buildings, and specifically focuses on cooling.

Sources: pib.

 


Facts for Prelims


Bathynomus raksasa:

It is a “supergiant” Bathynomus, and is being described as the “cockroach of the sea”.

It is the first ‘supergiant’ isopod species discovered recently by the researchers in the eastern Indian Ocean (Bantan, off the southern coast of West Java in Indonesia).

It has 14 legs but uses these only to crawl along the bed of oceans in search of food.

It measures around 50 centimetres (1.6 feet) in length, which is big for isopods, which normally do not grow beyond 33 cm (just over a foot).

  • Isopods that reach 50 cm are referred to as supergiants.
  • The giant isopods are distantly related to crabs, lobsters, and shrimps (which belong to the order of decapods), and are found in the cold depths of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
  • The only member of the isopod species that exceeds the raksasa in size is the Bathynomus giganteus, which is commonly found in the deep waters of the western Atlantic Ocean.

covid_19_vaccin

Manodarpan:

Manodarpan initiative has been launched under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

This initiative will provide psycho-social support to students, teachers and parents and address their issues related to mental health and emotional well being.

  • It was launched recently by the Union HRD Minister.

 

Article to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

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