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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 4 September 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. Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Priyojana (PMBJP).

2. Special Marriage Act, 1954.

3. UNSC 1267 committee.

4. Novichok and the CWC.

5. The Quad.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Merger of two black holes.

2. Asteroid 465824.

3. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020.

4. Assam Rifles

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. AIMA Chanakya National Management Games.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Priyojana (PMBJP):


Why in News?

8 immunity boosting products launched under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Priyojana (PMBJP) for sale through Janaushadhi Kendras across country.

About PMBJP:

It is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special kendra’s known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra.

  • Initially launched in 2008, the scheme was rechristened in 2015.

Implementation:

Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementing agency of PMBJP.

  • BPPI (Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India) has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India, with the support of all the CPSUs.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE SCHEME:

  1. Ensure access to quality medicines.
  2. Extend coverage of quality generic medicines so as to reduce the out of pocket expenditure on medicines and thereby redefine the unit cost of treatment per person.
  3. Create awareness about generic medicines through education and publicity so that quality is not synonymous with only high price.
  4. A public programme involving Government, PSUs, Private Sector, NGO, Societies, Co-operative Bodies and other Institutions.
  5. Create demand for generic medicines by improving access to better healthcare through low treatment cost and easy availability wherever needed in all therapeutic categories.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. When was the scheme launched?
  2. When was it renamed?
  3. The scheme was launched by which Ministry?
  4. About BPPI- establishment and functions.
  5. What is a generic medicine?

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and significance of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Priyojana (PMBJP).

PMBJP

Sources: pib.

 

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

Special Marriage Act, 1954:


Why in News?

Plea in Supreme Court over certain Special Marriage Act provisions.

  • The petition seeks the court’s directions to strike down certain Sections.

 What are the controversial provisions? Why they should be struck down?

Section 5 of the (Act) requires that a notice of intended marriage to be given by the parties to the marriage to the Marriage Officer of the district where at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given.

Section 6 mandates that all such notices received shall be entered in the marriage notice book and the Marriage Officer shall publish a notice by affixing a copy thereof to some conspicuous place in his office,

Sections6(2) and 6(3): The provisions under the Act require parties to an intended marriage to publish their private details for public scrutiny 30 days prior to the intended marriage.

  • This provision violates the right to privacy of the parties. The right to privacy is held to be an aspect of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • The requirement is also in violation of right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution since no other laws prescribe such a requirement.

What is Special Marriage Act of 1954?

The SMA is a law which allows solemnization of marriages without going through any religious customs or rituals.

People from different castes or religions or states get married under SMA in which marriage is solemnized by way of registration.

  • The prime purpose of the Act was to address Inter-religious marriages and to establish marriage as a secular institution bereft of all religious formalities, which required registration alone.

Procedure mentioned:

The SMA prescribes an elaborate procedure to get the marriage registered.

  1. One of the parties to the marriage has to give a notice of the intended marriage to the marriage officer of the district where at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for at least 30 days immediately prior to the date on which such notice is given.
  2. Such notice is then entered in the marriage notice book and the marriage officer publishes a notice of marriage at some conspicuous place in his office.
  3. The notice of marriage published by the marriage officer includes details of the parties like names, date of birth, age, occupation, parents’ names and details, address, pin code, identity information, phone number etc.
  4. Anybody can then raise objections to the marriage on various grounds provided under the Act. If no objection is raised within the 30 day period, then marriage can be solemnized. If objections are raised, then the marriage officer has to inquire into the objections after which he will decide whether or not to solemnize the marriage.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Objectives of the Special Marriage Act.
  2. Key provisions- Sections 5 and 6.
  3. Key requirements under the Act for the registration of marriage.
  4. Details published by the marriage officer.
  5. Overview of Articles 14 and 21 of the constitution.

Mains Link:

What are the controversial provisions in the Special Marriage Act of 1954? Why the law needs a review? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

UNSC 1267 committee:


Why in News?

Recently, the UNSC threw out a Pakistani attempt to get two Indians designated as terrorists under Resolution 1267. This was the third such attempt by Pak this year.

What is UNSC 1267 committee?

It was first set up in 1999, and strengthened after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

  • It is now known as the Da’esh and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
  • It comprises all permanent and non-permanent members of the UNSC.
  • The 1267 list of terrorists is a global list, with a UNSC stamp. It is full of Pakistani nationals and residents.

What is the process by which people are listed under UNSC 1267?

  • Any member state can submit a proposal for listing an individual, group, or entity.
  • The 1267 Committee meets as required with a notice of four working days.
  • Decisions on listing and de-listing are adopted by consensus.
  • The proposal is sent to all the members, and if no member objects within five working days, the proposal is adopted. An “objection” means curtains for the proposal.
  • Any member of the Committee may also put a “technical hold” on the proposal, and ask for more information from the proposing member state. During this time, other members may also place their own holds.
  • The matter remains on the “pending” list of the Committee until such time as the member state that has placed the hold decides to turn its decision into an “objection”, or until all those who have placed holds remove them within a timeframe laid down by the Committee.
  • Pending issues must be resolved in six months, but the member state that has placed the hold may ask for an additional three months. At the end of this period, if an objection is not placed, the matter is considered approved.

Any proposal for listing must meet set criteria:

The proposal must include acts or activities indicating the proposed individual/group/entity had participated “in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” linked to “ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida or any cell, affiliate, splinter group or derivative thereof”.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is UNSC 1267 committee?
  2. When was it established?
  3. Composition
  4. What is the 1267 list?
  5. Process by which people are listed under UNSC 1267.
  6. Criteria that a proposal must meet for listing.

Mains Link:

Discuss the roles and functions of the UNSC 1267 Committee.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Novichok and the CWC:


Why in News?

Novichok, Germany says was used to poison Alexei Navalny, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who is in a coma in a Berlin hospital.

What is Novichok?

It was developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.

  • The name Novichok means “newcomer”. It is used for a family of highly toxic nerve agents.
  • Novichok agents are believed to be five to 10 times more lethal than other poisonous substances like VX gas.

What’s the issue now?

The weaponisation of any chemical is banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, of which Moscow is a signatory.

  • However, Moscow is not believed ever to have declared Novichok or its ingredients to the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees a treaty banning their use.

Background:

Novichok were added to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s list of controlled substances last year. This was the first time that the list was updated since it was agreed upon in the 1990s.

What is Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)?

It is a multilateral treaty that bans chemical weapons and requires their destruction within a specified period of time.

The CWC is implemented by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is headquartered in The Hague (OPCW won the 2013 Nobel peace prize).

The CWC is open to all nations and currently has 193 states-parties. Israel has signed but has yet to ratify the convention.

  • Three states have neither signed nor ratified the convention- Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan.

The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits:

  1. Developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, or retaining chemical weapons.
  2. The direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons.
  3. Chemical weapons use or military preparation for use.
  4. Assisting, encouraging, or inducing other states to engage in CWC-prohibited activity.
  5. The use of riot control agents “as a method of warfare.”

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Novichok, which was in news recently?
  2. Key provisions under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  3. About the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
  4. States which have neither signed nor ratified the convention.
  5. Is India a party to this convention?

Mains Link:

Discuss the organizational structure, vision and functioning of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

novichok

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

The Quad:


Why in News?

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat has backed the ‘Quad’ as a “good mechanism” to ensure freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean-Pacific region — a statement that could rile up China.

What is Quad grouping?

The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

  • All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.
  • The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it.

Significance of the grouping:

  • Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
  • Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
  • It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.

What are China’s views on the Quad?

  • There is a general understanding that the Quad would not take on a military dimension against any country. The strategic community in China, nevertheless, had branded it an emerging “Asian NATO”.
  • Notably, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s “Confluence of Two Seas” address to the Indian Parliament gave a fresh impetus to the Quad concept. This recognised the economic rise of India.

Quad

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Quad- composition.
  2. When was it first proposed?
  3. Countries and important islands in the Indian Ocean region.
  4. Geographical overview of Indo-Pacific region.
  5. Important seas and straits in the region.

Mains Link:

A formal revival and re-invigoration of the Quad is called for to maintain peace and tranquillity and to ensure observance of the UN Law of the Seas. Examine.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Merger of two black holes:


Context:

Gravitational waves from a collision between two black holes were detected in 2019 at the gravitational wave observatory LIGO (United States) and the detector Virgo (Italy).

  • It was calculated to have come from roughly 17 billion light years away, and from a time when the universe was about half its age.

What’s unique about this meger?

One of the two parent black holes was of an unusual “intermediate mass”, which challenges traditional scientific knowledge. It is the first “intermediate mass” black hole ever observed.

What are Gravitational Waves?

They are invisible ripples that form when a star explodes in a supernova; when two big stars orbit each other; and when two black holes merge.

  • Travelling at the speed of light, gravitational waves squeeze and stretch anything in their path.
  • Proposed by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity over a century ago.
  • It was only in 2015, however, that the first gravitational wave was actually detected — by LIGO.

What is a black hole?

A black hole is an object in space that is so dense and has such strong gravity that no matter or light can escape its pull. Because no light can escape, it is black and invisible.

  • There’s a boundary at the edge of a black hole called the event horizon, which is the point of no return — any light or matter that crosses that boundary is sucked into the black hole. It would need to travel faster than the speed of light to escape, which is impossible.
  • Anything that crosses the event horizon is destined to fall to the very centre of the black hole and be squished into a single point with infinite density, called the singularity.

What is LIGO?

It is a massive observatory for detecting cosmic gravitational waves and for carrying out experiments.

  • The objective is to use gravitational-wave observations in astronomical studies.
  • The project operates three gravitational-wave (GW) detectors. Two are at Hanford, Washington, north-western US, and one is at Livingston in Louisiana, south-eastern US.
  • The proposed LIGO India project aims to move one advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the General Theory of Relativity.
  2. When was the first gravitational wave detected?
  3. LIGO- mission objectives, observatories and funding.
  4. What are event horizon and singularity in the context of a black hole?
  5. LIGO India- proposed site, partners and objectives.
  6. Where is Virgo locator located?

Mains Link:

Discuss the applications and significance of findings of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detector.

ligo_a

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Asteroid 465824:

Why in News?

NASA says asteroid 465824 2010 FR, which is twice as big as the Pyramid of Giza, may cross the Earth’s orbit on September 6.

  • It is classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEO) and a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA).

What are NEOs?

NASA defines NEOs as comets and asteroids nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.

  • These objects are composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles.

What is an asteroid?

Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, much smaller than planets. They are also called minor planets. As per NASA, 994,383 is the count for known asteroids, the remnants from the formation of the solar system over 4.6 billion years ago.

Why most asteroids are found in only one region?

Most such objects can be found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which is estimated to contain somewhere between 1.1-1.9 million asteroids. The explanation for the concentration of asteroids in this belt comes from the formation of Jupiter, whose gravity brought an end to the formation of any planetary bodies in this region, as a result of which the smaller bodies kept colliding with each other, fragmenting into asteroids.

Other types of asteroids:

  1. Trojans, which are asteroids that share an orbit with a larger planet.
  2. Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which have orbits that pass close by the Earth. Those that cross the Earth’s orbit are called Earth-crossers.

Why do scientists track asteroids?

  • To look for information about the formation and history of planets and the sun, since asteroids were formed at the same time as other objects in the solar system.
  • To look for asteroids that might be potentially hazardous.

What are PHAs?

In the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter Over 1,400 asteroids are classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs).

  • According to NASA, “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth”.
  • Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of 0.05 au or less are considered PHAs.

How can asteroids be deflected?

The most drastic measure undertaken so far is the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA), which includes NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hera.

  • The mission’s target is Didymos, a binary near-Earth asteroid, one of whose bodies is of the size that could pose a significant threat to Earth.
  • In 2018, NASA announced that it had started the construction of DART, which is scheduled to launch in 2021 with an aim to slam into the smaller asteroid of the Didymos system at around 6 km per second in 2022.
  • Hera, which is scheduled to launch in 2024, will arrive at the Didymos system in 2027 to measure the impact crater produced by the DART collision and study the change in the asteroid’s orbital trajectory.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are near earth objects?
  2. Classification of asteroids.
  3. Why most asteroids are found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter?
  4. What are potentially hazardous asteroids? How are they classified?
  5. Overview of NASA’s DART Mission.

Mains Link:

Differentiate between meteorite and asteroid.

asteroid_belt

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020:


Why in News?

The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs have raised several concerns about the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2020 and have asked the government how its provisions correspond with India’s obligations under international law.

Who are UN Special Rapporteurs?

They are independent experts working on behalf of the United Nations. They work on a country or a thematic mandate specified by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The three important issues raised by UN Special Rapporteurs are:

  1. The draft notification includes under Clauses 14 (2) and 26 an exemption of several large industries and projects from public consultation — as part of the environment impact assessment process — such as chemical manufacturing and petroleum products; building, construction and area development; inland waterways and expansion or widening of national highways.
  • These exemptions are unwarranted given the substantial environmental and human rights negative impacts that can arise from projects in these areas.
  1. The draft notification does not require publication of information or holding of public consultation for projects labelled by the Central government as ‘involving strategic considerations’.
  • The draft does not provide clarification regarding the criteria for categorizing projects ‘strategic’ by the Central Government and hence could be open to excessively broad interpretations.
  1. There is a clause on “post-facto clearance”. These are for projects that have started without obtaining the required environmental clearances or permissions.
  • This practice contradicts basic principles related to the environmental rule of law.

Background:

Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, India notified its first EIA norms in 1994, setting in place a legal framework for regulating activities that access, utilise, and affect (pollute) natural resources.

  • Every development project has been required to go through the EIA process for obtaining prior environmental clearance ever since.
  • The 1994 EIA notification was replaced with a modified draft in 2006.
  • Earlier this year, the government redrafted it again to incorporate the amendments and relevant court orders issued since 2006, and to make the EIA “process more transparent and expedient.”

 Other contentious provisions in the draft:

  1. It shortens the period of public consultation hearings to a maximum of 40 days.
  2. It reduces from 30 to 20 days the time provided for the public to submit their responses during a public hearing for any application seeking environmental clearance.
  3. It also allows the declaration of some areas as “economically sensitive areas” without a public hearing or environmental clearance, and several “red” and “orange”-classified toxic industries could now operate as close as 0-5 km from a Protected Area in “callous disregard” for forests.
  4. The increased validity of the environment clearances for mining projects (50 years versus 30 years currently) and river valley projects (15 years versus 10 years currently) raises the risk of irreversible environmental, social and health consequences on account of the project remaining unnoticed for long.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. EIA process.
  2. Environment (Protection) Act, 1986- Key provisions,
  3. About the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
  4. Article 253 of the Constitution.
  5. Who are UN Special Rapporteurs?
  6. Key provisions in the Draft EIA notification 2020.

Mains Link:

Explain the significance of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process in the Indian context. Also highlight the concerns associated with it.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

Assam Rifles:


Why in News?

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has asked the Assam Rifles to shift its base from the heart of State capital Aizawl to Zokhawsang about 15 km away at the earliest.

What’s the issue?

The stand-off between the Mizoram government and the Assam Rifles began on August 18, when 15 personnel of the force’s 46th Battalion allegedly forced their way into the State ignoring COVID-19 safety protocols.

  • Previously, The Mizo National Front government had in 1988 asked the Assam Rifles to shift from Aizawl after the killing of 12 civilians in an “encounter”.

About Assam Rifles:

Assam Rifles which is also referred to as the Sentinels of North East is the oldest paramilitary force of India.

  • It was formed as a single unit called Cachar Levy in 1835 to assist the British rulers in maintaining peace in the Northeast.
  • Incremental gains were accompanied by name changes for the primary law enforcement agency – Assam Frontier Police to Assam Military Police to Eastern Bengal to Assam Military Police – before Assam Rifles became the official name in 1917.
  • It served in both the World Wars.

Who controls the force?

It was after the Chinese aggression in 1962 that the Assam Rifles battalions were placed under the operational control of the Army.

  • Today, the administrative control of Assam Rifles lies with the Home Ministry, while the operational control is with the Defence Ministry.

 InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Assam Rifles- formation.
  2. Administrative control of the force is under?
  3. Who has the operational control?
  4. Functions 

Mains Link:

Discuss the key mandate carried out by Assam rifles. What are the issues and concerns surrounding the dual control of the same?

asteroid_belt

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


AIMA Chanakya National Management Games:

  • It is an online Business Simulation Game conducted every year.
  • It is aimed at ensuring that participating executives from various industries get an introduction to the complexities of running an organisation and gain expertise and skills from this event.

National Management Games (NMG) is one of its kind platform for Corporate Managers to face the thrill of Managing Business in a competitive mode. It is one of the most anticipated and reputable annual events based on Business Management Simulation, conducted by AIMA (All India Management Association).

  • The participants experience the complexities of running a company by focusing on resource management, market trends, cost analysis, product positioning, production planning, and inventory control.

Why in News?

NTPC emerged as winner in this edition.


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