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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 4 August 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 2:

1. Expression of opinion or anguish is not contempt amounting to scandalising the court: Prashant Bhushan tells SC.

2. Code on Social Security, 2019.

3. Draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Centre should repeal ordinances: farmers.

2. What is the SpaceX Crew Dragon?

3. Report on leopard sightings.

4. Rakhis tied to trees in Aravalis.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Galapagos archipelago.

2. John Hume.

3. Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN).

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

Expression of opinion or anguish is not contempt amounting to scandalising the court: Prashant Bhushan tells SC:

Context:

Noted civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan has responded to suo motu contempt action initiated against him on his tweets.

What’s the issue?

Mr Bhushan had made two tweets- one concerning a photograph of Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde on a motorcycle and the other about the functioning of the Supreme Court in the past six years under four Chief Justices.

  • Following this, the Court issued the contempt notice on July 22, saying the tweets undermined the dignity and authority of the court and the office of the CJI.

What has Pradhan Bhushan said? How he defends himself?

  1. Expressing opinion or bona fide anguish, however outspoken, disagreeable or unpalatable, cannot constitute contempt amounting to scandalising the court.
  2. Chief Justice is not the court, and raising issues of concern regarding the manner in which a CJI conducts himself during ‘court vacations’ does not amount to ‘scandalising or lowering the authority of the court.
  3. Also, raising issues of grave concern regarding the manner in which four CJIs have used, or failed to use, their powers as ‘Master of the Roster’ to allow the spread of authoritarianism, majoritarianism, stifling of dissent, widespread political incarceration, and so on, cannot and does not amount to ‘scandalising or lowering the authority of the court.

Previously, What has the Supreme Court said in such matters?

Supreme Court in the contempt case against former Madras High Court judge C.S. Karnan had held that the “law of contempt is not made for the protection of judges who may be sensitive to the winds of public opinion. Judges are supposed to be men of fortitude, able to thrive in a hardy climate”.

How the Court should exercise its contempt powers?

  1. Freedom of speech and expression is the “ultimate guardian” of values upheld in the Constitution. Therefore, the exercise of contempt powers by the Supreme Court must necessarily not be of a nature that went beyond ‘reasonable restrictions’.
  2. The power of contempt under Article 129 is to be utilised to aid in administration of justice.
  3. Contempt could not be pressed into service to stifle bona fide criticism from citizens who were well-informed about the omissions and commissions of the Supreme Court.

Conclusion:

The citizens in a democracy has every right to freely and fairly discuss the state of affairs of an institution and build public opinion in order to reform the institution.

However, every criticism must be carefully weighed and made with the highest sense of responsibility.

Note: A detailed article has already been covered in this regard:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/07/27/contempt-of-court-4/.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Article 129 is related to?
  2. Powers of SC vs HCs wrt Contempt cases.
  3. Changes brought about by Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006.
  4. Civil vs Criminal contempt.
  5. Rights under Article 19.
  6. Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 is related to?

Mains Link:

Discuss how contempt cases are handled by Supreme Court in India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Code on Social Security, 2019:

Context:

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour, in its report on Code on Social Security, 2019, has submitted its report to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

  • The parliamentary committee, headed by senior BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, had examined the code referred to it by the Lok Sabha last December.

Key recommendations:

  1. The time limit for payment of gratuity to an employee after termination of employment should be reduced from the current five years of continuous service to just one year.
  2. The provision of gratuity should be extended to all kinds of employees, including contract labourers, seasonal workers, piece rate workers, fixed term employees and daily/monthly wage workers.
  3. “Inter-state migrant workers” should be mentioned as a separate category in the Code.
  4. A welfare fund should be created exclusively for them. The fund should be financed proportionately by the sending states, the receiving states, the contractors, the principal employers and the registered migrant workers.
  5. The funds so created should exclusively be used for workers/employees not covered under other welfare funds.
  6. Create a central online portal and database of registered establishments as well as migrant workers, including building and other construction staff.
  7. Registration: It should be made mandatory for all establishments, including agricultural, non-agricultural, contract as well as self-employed workers to register under one body, instead of multiple organisations. This body “should remain responsible for provision of social security for all types of workers in the country”.
  8. An enabling mechanism should be included in the code itself for portability of Building and Construction Workers Welfare Fund among states so money due to beneficiaries can be paid in any state irrespective of where the cess has been collected.

Background:

The Code on Social Security, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha in December last year but several concerns were raised over some of its key provisions which led to the Bill being sent to the Standing Committee.

The Code replaces nine laws related to social security and is focused to amend and consolidate the laws relating to social security of the employees’ and related issues.

Insta Facts:

  • The Building and Construction Workers Welfare Fund is raised by levying a cess of 1 per cent of the construction cost.
  • It is part of the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Act, 1996, which regulates employment and working conditions of construction workers and also provides for their safety and welfare measures.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Building and Construction Workers Welfare Fund.
  2. How many laws will be replaced by Code on Social Security, 2019?
  3. Key proposals in the code.
  4. Applicability of the code.
  5. Inspections and appeals under the code.
  6. Parliamentary standing committees- composition, establishment and functions.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Code on Social Security, 2019.

eligibility_expansion

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020:

Context:

Ministry of Defence (MoD) has formulated and released a draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 (DPEPP 2020). 

  • It is envisaged as overarching guiding document of MoD to provide a focused, structured and significant thrust to defence production capabilities of the country for self-reliance and exports.

The policy has laid out following goals and objectives:

  1. To achieve a turnover of Rs 1,75,000 Crores (US$ 25Bn) including export of Rs 35,000 Crore (US$ 5 Billion) in Aerospace and Defence goods and services by 2025.
  2. To develop a dynamic, robust and competitive Defence industry, including Aerospace and Naval Shipbuilding industry to cater to the needs of Armed forces with quality products.
  3. To reduce dependence on imports and take forward “Make in India” initiatives through domestic design and development.
  4. To promote export of defence products and become part of the global defence value chains.
  5. To create an environment that encourages R&D, rewards innovation, creates Indian IP ownership and promotes a robust and self-reliant defence industry.
  6. The share of domestic procurement in overall defence procurement is about 60%. In order to enhance procurement from domestic industry, it is incumbent that procurement is doubled from the current ₹70,000 crore to ₹1,40,000 crore by 2025.

The Policy brings out multiple strategies under the following focus areas: 

  1. Procurement Reforms
  2. Indigenization & Support to MSMEs/Startups
  3. Optimize Resource Allocation
  4. Investment Promotion, FDI & Ease of Doing Business
  5. Innovation and R&D
  6. DPSUs and OFB
  7. Quality Assurance & Testing Infrastructure
  8. Export Promotion

Other highlights of the policy:

  1. The policy states that a negative list of weapons and platforms will be notified with year-wise time lines for placing an embargo on import of such items from those dates.
  2. A Technology Assessment Cell (TAC) would be created. It would assess the industrial capability for design, development and production, including re-engineering for production of major systems such as armoured vehicles, submarines, fighter aircraft, helicopters and radars with the major industries in the country, the policy states.
  3. A Project Management Unit (PMU) will be set up with representation from the Services for estimation of development and production lead times specifications and technologies involved, life cycle costs and maintenance requirements of platforms, equipment and weapon systems.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Functions of the proposed Technology Assessment Cell under the policy.
  2. Who will notify the negative list of weapons and platforms?
  3. Proposed Goals of the policy.
  4. Other key proposals.

Mains Link:

Discuss the objectives and significance of the Draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020.

eyes

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Centre should repeal ordinances: farmers:

Context:

All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has announced a “Corporates Leave Farming” campaign across the country on August 9 against the Centre’s recent ordinances on agriculture and farmer issues.

What’s the issue?

In June 2020, the Central government introduced three ordinances to bring in far-reaching agricultural ‘reforms’ in the country. They are:

  1. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
  2. The Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020.
  3. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020.

But, activists have expressed disappointment saying that the reforms package will not solve the problems of farmers, instead will exacerbate them.

General concerns:

  1. These are anti-farmer and will only result in reduced crop prices for farmers and undermine seed security even further.
  2. Food security will be eroded as government intervention is eliminated.
  3. These ordinances promote corporate control of the Indian food and farming systems.
  4. They will also encourage hoarding and black marketing, in addition to exploitation of farmers.

Let us now take up one by one;

  1. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020:

Key provision: It allows for regulating the supply and stock limit of certain specified agricultural produce under extraordinary circumstances such as an extraordinary price rise and natural calamity of grave nature, etc.

Issues:

  • The price range fluctuation allowed in this ordinance is narrow (100% increase in the retail price of horticultural produce and 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural foodstuffs).
  • This stock limit regulation will not be applicable for value chain participants of any agricultural produce if their stock limit remains within their installed capacity.
  • It will also not apply to exporters if they can show demand for export.
  1. The Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020:

Key provision: It seeks to effectively bypass the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets by providing for the freedom to trade in any area outside of private and APMC designated market yards.

Issues:

  • This leads to a situation where local farmers do not find adequate demand for their produce at MSP in the local market.
  • Since most farmers are small or marginal landowners, they do not have wherewithal to transport their produce to large distances.
  • Hence, they are forced to sell them at a lower price than the MSP in the local market itself.
  1. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020:

Key provision: It seeks to create a legal framework for contract farming in India.

There are two broader concerns here:

  1. First, one principle concern with contract farming has been regarding the negotiating power of the two parties involved. It seems likely that individual farmers might not find themselves equipped or powerful enough to negotiate with corporates or big-pocket sponsors to ensure a fair price for their produce.
  2. Second, the ordinance says that the quality parameters can be mutually decided by the two parties in the agreement. But the quality aspect will become crucial when a few corporates will try to usher in uniformity which might end up adversely impacting the already skewed agro-ecological diversity in the country.

Conclusion:

The three ordinances will have far-reaching and varying impacts depending on the social, political, economic and cultural contexts of the respective states.

  • But such bold and unilateral moves by the Centre fail to incorporate and give due consideration to the immense diversity in the country, not just between the states in terms of land ownership, cropping patterns, historical functioning of agricultural markets etc. but also within them.
  • Therefore, it is feared that the three ordinances rather than helping farmers, might end up being a source of distress for millions of small and marginal farmers in the country as have been observed in the past in cases of demonetization and COVID-19 related lock-downs.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are APMCs? How they are regulated?
  2. Overview of Model Contract farming act.
  3. What is an ordinance?
  4. The price range fluctuation allowed in the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
  5. Stock limit regulation under the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 will not be applicable for?

Mains Link:

Do you think the reforms proposed for agricultural sector under the realm of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan ensure better price realization for farmers? Elucidate.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

What is the SpaceX Crew Dragon?

Context:

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020.

What is it?

In May 2020, the Crew Dragon became the first space vehicle to launch humans from American soil in nine years.

Built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, it’s part of Nasa’s plan to hand over space station flights to private companies.

  • In particular, SpaceX was given funding through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which started in 2010 to foster public-private partnerships for space exploration.

Background:

Crew Dragon evolved from an earlier design, called Dragon 1, which launched 20 times on missions to deliver cargo to the ISS between May 2012 and March 2020.

crew_dragon

Importance of the mission:

  • It was the first time that astronauts used a spaceship built and launched by a private company, and the event is being widely seen as the beginning of a new era in space exploration.
  • The rocket, named Falcon 9, which carried the spaceship into the orbit, was also built by SpaceX.
  • The mission was called Demo-2, in keeping with the fact that it was only a ‘test flight’, which if successful, would lead to more missions in the coming months.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. NASA’s Commercial crew program- participants.
  2. Space shuttle program.
  3. Demo 1 vs 2 missions.
  4. What is ISS?
  5. Space stations so far.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Report on leopard sightings:

Why in News?

As part of its global tiger census, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is set to release a dedicated report on leopard sightings by the month-end.

Insta Fact:

No separate census for leopard is conducted. The quadrennial tiger survey also estimates the population of other animals including leopards by relying on camera trap images.

Estimated Leopards in India:

  • The last formal census on India’s leopards was conducted in 2014 which estimated the cat’s population at between 12,000 and 14,000.
  • They also estimated 8,000 leopards in the vicinity of tiger habitat.

Issues with the present methodology:

Conducting a leopard survey, along with the tiger survey, is problematic as the former is adapted to living on the edge of forests and human habitats, unlike the tiger which is an elusive creature. This had led to gross errors in estimating the true numbers of leopards.

But, Why it is difficult to hold leopard census directly?

Leopards share habitat with both, tigers and humans. They reside in protected areas as well outside them in agricultural fields, scrublands and riverine tracts. Therefore , it is highly difficult to count such a widely distributed population.

Besides, there are substantial numbers of leopards and they are well distributed. Hence, a separate wouldn’t be necessary.

What needs to be done then?

India’s leopard population may be only a tenth of what it was a little over a century ago, experiencing catastrophic declines due to human pressures.

  • Instead of conducting a new leopard census, the cause of the leopard would be served better if conservation strategies were made a priority of policy decisions.
  • A stringent policy action should be to bring down retailiatory killings as well poaching for trade.
  • Given the threats the animal faces today–ranging from conflicts with humans, poaching, habitat loss to availability of prey– an initiative similar to ‘Project Tiger’ is required for the cat.

Insta Facts- Leopard:

  • Scientific Name- Panthera pardus.
  • Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Included in Appendix I of CITES.
  • Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
  • Nine subspecies of the leopard have been recognized, and they are distributed across Africa and Asia.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. IUCN status of Leopard.
  2. What is CITES?
  3. Subspecies of leopard.
  4. Various Schedules under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
  5. Tiger census in India is conducted by?
  6. IUCN red list categories.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Rakhis tied to trees in Aravalis:

Context:

On the eve Raksha Bandhan, using leaf vines, women and children tied symbolic rakhi to the trees and took an oath to protect the Aravali forests that are the lifeline for clean air and water in Gurugram and National Capital Region.

Background:

The degradation of the Aravalis threatens Gurugram and National Capital Region’s water security. High levels of natural cracks and fissures in the Aravali hills make this mountain range a superior zone for recharging groundwater, which is in the red zone at this point in time as extraction is several folds more than what is put back into the ground.

Aravali Range:

  1. They are aligned in north-east to south-west direction. They run between Delhi and Palanpur in Gujarat.
  2. The highest peak is Guru Shikharat 1,722 metres (5,650 ft).
  3. They are one of the oldest fold mountains of the world and the oldest in India.
  4. According to some geographers, one Branch of the Aravalis extends to the Lakshadweep Archipelago through the Gulf of Khambhat and the other into Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
  5. At the south-west extremity the range rises to over 1,000 m. Here Mt. Abu (1,158 m), a small hilly block, is separated from the main range by the valley of the Banas.
  6. Pipli Ghat, Dewair and Desuri passes allow movement by roads and railways.
  7. The Aravalli Range joins two of the ancient earth’s crust segments that make up the greater Indian craton– Aravalli Craton and Bundelkand Craton.

Rivers:

Three major rivers and their tributaries flow from the Aravalli, namely Banas and Sahibi rivers which are tributaries of Yamuna, as well as Luni River which flows into the Rann of Kutch.

The Great Green Wall of Aravalli:

It is a 1,600 km long and 5 km wide green ecological corridor along Aravalli range from Gujarat to Delhi.

  • It will be connected to Shivalikhill range.
  • To be implemented on a concept similar to the Great Green Wallof Sahara in Africa, it will act as a buffer against pollution.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Aravali forests are spread across how many states?
  2. Where is Shivalik range?
  3. What is the Great Green wall of Aravalli.
  4. Important rivers flowing through Aravalis.
  5. Important passes.
  6. What are cratons?

punjab_himalaya

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Places in News- Galapagos archipelago:

  • The Galapagos Islands, spread over almost 60,000 sq km, are a part of Ecuador, and are located in the Pacific Ocean around 1,000 km away from the South American continent.
  • The giant tortoises found here – ‘Galápagos’ in old Spanish– give the islands its name.
  • Ecuador made a part of the Galapagos a wildlife sanctuary in 1935, and the sanctuary became the Galapagos National Park in 1959. In 1978, the islands became UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site.
  • Charles Darwin described the islands as a “world in itself”.

Why in News?

Ecuador was on alert earlier this week as a fleet of Chinese fishing vessels– what some called a “floating city”– was sighted near the Galapagos archipelago.

  • Chinese ships frequent Ecuador’s waters this time of the year when the cold Humboldt Current brings in nutrients that lead to a high congregation of marine species.

life_currents

 John Hume:

John Hume, the visionary politician who won a Nobel Peace Prize for fashioning the agreement that ended violence in Northern Ireland, has died at 83.

He was seen as the principal architect of Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace agreement.

He, along with few others, won the Nobel Prize for their efforts to end the sectarian violence that plagued the region for three decades and left more than 3,500 people dead.

Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN):

This is being implemented under National Health Mission (NHM) by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. eVIN aims to provide real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in the country.


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