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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 17 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. What is serial interval, and how can it be managed to control Covid-19?.

2. China says India violated border agreements.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

2. What is Solar Cycle 25?

3. Global Initiative to reduce Land Degradation and Coral Reef program.

4. Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020.

5. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Kosi Rail Mahasetu.

2. Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill 2020.

3. Nuclear Power Generation in India.

4. FDI in atomic energy.

5. Kalinga Frog.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

What is serial interval, and how can it be managed to control Covid-19?


Why in News?

China, which has now gone over a month without any locally transmitted Covid-19 cases, was able to contain Covid-19 due to its ability to manage the serial interval.

What is it?

The serial interval is the duration between symptom onset of a primary case and symptom onset of secondary cases (contacts) generated by the primary case.

In simple terms, the serial interval is the gap between the onset of Covid-19 symptoms in Person A and Person B, who is infected by Person A.

When was it first used?

The term was first used by British physician William Pickles, who had initially referred to it as transmission interval with reference to a hepatitis epidemic in the United Kingdom during 1942-45.

Mains Factors on which Serial Interval depends:

Incubation period: The time between a person’s exposure to the virus and symptom onset.

Reproduction rate or R naught: The number of people who will be infected by one infected person.

Significance? What does changes in serial interval indicate?

The serial interval helps to gauge the effectiveness of infection control interventions besides indicating rising population immunity and forecast future incidence.

Thus, the more quickly persons who contracted Covid-19 are identified and isolated, the shorter the serial interval becomes and cuts down opportunities for transmission of the virus.

What India needs to do?

To manage serial interval, a robust system of contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation protocols should be in place.

Case study:

China:

The serial interval in Wuhan came down from 7.8 days to 2.6 days between early January and early February.

  • Quarantining contacts within 1 day from symptom onset helped reduce Covid-19 transmission by 60 per cent.
  • This was made possible due to aggressive contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation, thereby ensuring that infected patients, because they were isolated, could not infect any more people later in the infection cycle.

pre_symptom

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is serial interval?
  2. What is R0?
  3. Difference between RNA and DNA.
  4. Differences between RT PCR and antibody tests.
  5. What is a RNA virus? How it survives?
  6. What are antibodies?

Mains Link:

What is serial interval, and how can it be managed to control Covid-19?

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

China says India violated border agreements:


Context:

China has blamed India for “violating” border agreements and said India bore responsibility for the recent tensions.

  • This comes a day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that China had, by amassing troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) this summer, violated the 1993 and 1996 boundary agreements that have helped keep the peace along the border for years.

What do 1993 and 1996 agreements say?

India and China have signed various agreements on border management— signed in September 1993, November 1996, April 2005 and October 2013.

Unfortunately, these are deeply flawed agreements and make the quest for settlement of the boundary question at best a strategic illusion and at worst a cynical diplomatic parlour trick.

  1. 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the Sino-Indian Border:

As per the agreement, both India and China agree to keep “military forces in the areas along the line of actual control to a minimum level” and “reduce troop levels” compatible with friendly and good relations between them.

  1. 1996 Agreement on Confidence-Building Measures:

This agreement allows for “military disclosure when the parties are undertaking border exercises and for the reduction of troop levels in the border areas.

  • It also allows the parties to observe and inspect troop movements in each other territory upon invitation.
  • In this agreement too, the two sides agreed to reduce or limit their military forces within mutually-agreed geographical zones along the LAC.
  • It also specifies the major categories of armaments to be reduced or limited: “combat tanks, infantry combat vehicles, guns etc.
  • It also stipulates that “[n]either side shall open fire, cause bio-degradation, use hazardous chemicals, conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometers from the line of actual control.

What’s the issue now?

  • These agreements are there just on papers. They have no bearing on the ground reality.
  • The agreements do not reflect any attempt to have each side recognise the other’s line of deployment of troops at the time they were signed.
  • Also, the absence of a definition of LAC allows ever new and surreptitious advances on the ground.

Background:

India and China have recently agreed on a five-point course of action to disengage and reduce tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

points_concern

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is LoC and how is it established, geographical extent and significance?
  2. What is LAC?
  3. Where is Nathu la?
  4. Where is Pangong Tso?
  5. Who administers Akashi Chin?
  6. Where is Naku La?
  7. Who controls what in Pangong Tso lake region?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Pangong Tso for India and China.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020:


Context:

Passed in Lok Sabha. The Bill replaces an ordinance to the same effect promulgated on June 26.

  • The Bill proposes amendments to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  • With this new Bill, the central government aims to bring cooperative banks under the supervision of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

 Key changes:

  • Now, Provisions applicable to banking companies will also applicable to cooperative banks. This ensures that cooperative banks are equally subject to better governance and sound banking regulations through the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • With the amendments, RBI will be able to undertake a scheme of amalgamation of a bank without placing it under moratorium.
  • It will help the central bank to develop a scheme to ensure the interest of the public, banking system, account holders in the bank and banking company’s proper management, without disrupting any banking functionalities.
  • The amendments also allow cooperative banks to raise money via public issues and private placements of equity or preference shares as well as unsecured debentures, with the central’s bank’s nod.

However, the changes will not:

  1. Affect the existing powers of the state registrars of co-operative societies under state laws.
  2. Apply to Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) or co-operative societies whose primary object and principal business is long-term finance for agricultural development, and which do not use the words “bank”, “banker” or “banking”.

Why this was necessary?

  • This was felt necessary in the wake of the recent Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank crisis.
  • Cooperative banks have 8.6 lakh account holders, with a total deposit of about ₹5 lakh crore.
  • Besides, Urban cooperative banks reported nearly 1,000 cases of fraud worth more than ₹220 crore in past five fiscal years.

How cooperative banks are regulated?

Cooperative banks are currently under the dual control of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and RBI. While the role of registrar of cooperative societies includes incorporation, registration, management, audit, supersession of board and liquidation, RBI is responsible for regulatory functions such as maintaining cash reserve and capital adequacy, among others.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are cooperative banks?
  2. How they are regulated? What is dual regulation?
  3. Overview of the Banking Regulation (Amendments) Bill, 2020.

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues associated with Dual regulation of cooperative banks.

For further details about the Bill, please go through:

https://www.prsindia.org

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

What is Solar Cycle 25?


Context:

Scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have announced their predictions about the new solar cycle, called Solar Cycle 25, which they believe has begun.

Key findings:

  • The solar minimum for Solar Cycle 25 occurred in December 2019.
  • Scientists predict a solar maximum (middle of the solar cycle) will be reached by July 2025.
  • This solar cycle will be as strong as the last solar cycle, which was a “below-average cycle” but not without risks.

But first, What is a solar cycle?

The Sun is a huge ball of electrically-charged hot gas. This charged gas moves, generating a powerful magnetic field. This magnetic field goes through a cycle, called the solar cycle.

Every 11 years or so, the Sun’s magnetic field completely flips. This means that the Sun’s north and south poles switch places. Then it takes about another 11 years for the Sun’s north and south poles to flip back again.

So far, astronomers have documented 24 such cycles, the last one ended in 2019.

How do scientists track solar activity?

Scientists track a solar cycle by using sunspots.

The beginning of a solar cycle is typically characterised by only a few sunspots and is therefore referred to as a solar minimum.

 What is solar minimum and maximum?

One way to track the solar cycle is by counting the number of sunspots.

  • The beginning of a solar cycle is a solar minimum, or when the Sun has the least sunspots. Over time, solar activity—and the number of sunspots—increases.
  • The middle of the solar cycle is the solar maximum, or when the Sun has the most sunspots. As the cycle ends, it fades back to the solar minimum and then a new cycle begins.

Impacts of Solar Cycle on Earth:

  • Solar eruptions can cause lights in the sky, called aurora, or impact radio communications. Extreme eruptions can even affect electricity grids on Earth.
  • Solar activity can affect satellite electronics and limit their lifetime.
  • Radiation can be dangerous for astronauts who do work on the outside of the International Space Station.

solar_cycle

InstaLinks::

Prelims Link:

  1. What are solar flares?
  2. What are sunspots?
  3. How solar flares affect earth’s magnetic field?
  4. What is sun’s 11 year cycle?
  5. What is solar minimum?

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Global Initiative to reduce Land Degradation and Coral Reef program:


Context:

Launched at the recently held Environment Ministerial Meeting (EMM) of the G20 countries which took place under the Presidency of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

About the Initiative:

It aims to strengthen the implementation of existing frameworks to prevent, halt, and reverse land degradation within G20 member states and globally, taking into account possible implications on the achievement of other SDGs and adhering to the principle of doing no harm.

What is Land Degradation?

It is the reduction or loss of biological or economic productivity of the land resulting from land uses or from a process or combination of processes, including human activities and climatic variations.

What is Desertification?

It is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one-third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use.

The major causes for land degradation include:

  1. Land clearance, such as clearcutting and deforestation
  2. Agricultural depletion of soil nutrients through poor farming practices
  3. Livestock including overgrazing and over drafting
  4. Inappropriate irrigation and over drafting
  5. Urban sprawl and commercial development
  6. Vehicle off-roading
  7. Quarrying of stone, sand, ore and minerals

Steps taken by India:

  • Desert Development Programme.
  • Integrated Watershed Management Programme which is now subsumed under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana.
  • National agriculture policy 2000.
  • National Mission on Green India which is a part of National Action Plan on Climate Change.
  • National Afforestation Programme.
  • Soil Conservation in the Catchment of River Valley Projects and Flood Prone Rivers.
  • National Watershed Development Project for Rain fed Areas.
  • Fodder and Feed Development Scheme – a component of Grassland Development including Grass Reserves
  • Command Area Development and Management Programme.
  • National water policy 2012
  • National forest Policy 1988

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Outcomes of G20 Environment Ministers’ meet 2020.
  2. About UNCCD.
  3. What is REDD?
  4. What is REDD+?
  5. What is National Afforestation Programme?

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Global Initiative to reduce Land Degradation and Coral Reef program.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- Energy.

Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020:


Context:

Union Power Ministry has drafted Rules providing for Rights of Electricity Consumers for the First Time.

The main features are:

  1. Reliability of service: State Electricity Regulatory Commissions to fix average number and duration of outages per consumer per year for DISCOMs. (A power outage is the loss of the electrical power network supply to an end user.)
  2. Timely and simplified procedure for connection: Only two documents for connection up to load of 10 kw and no estimation of demand charges for loads up to 150 kw to expedite giving connection.
  3. Time period to provide new connection: Not more than 7 days in metro cities, 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas, to provide new connection and modify existing connection.
  4. 2 to 5% rebate on serving bills with delay of sixty days or more.
  5. Push to online payment: Option to pay bills in cash, cheque, debit cards, net banking etc but bills of Rs. 1000 or more to be paid online.
  6. Prosumers: Recognition to the emerging category of consumers known as “Prosumers”.They will have right to produce electricity for self-use and inject excess in the grid using same point of connection up to limits prescribed by the SERC.
  7. Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum with 2-3 representatives of consumers at various levels starting from Sub-division for ease of consumer grievance redressal.

Who are Prosumers?

Persons who are consumers and have also set up a rooftop units or solarised their irrigation pumps.

Sources: PIB.

 

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:


Context:

According to the latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 3,005 cases were registered in the country under anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and 3,974 people were arrested under the Act

About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:

Passed in 1967, the law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.

The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.

It has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.

Key points:

  • Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.
  • Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.

Amendments and changes:

The 2004 amendment, added “terrorist act” to the list of offences to ban organisations for terrorist activities, under which 34 outfits were banned. Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory.

As per amendments of 2019:

  • The Act empowers the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
  • The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.

Criticisms of UAPA:

  • The law is often misused and abused.
  • Could be used against political opponents and civil society activists who speak against the government and brand them as “terrorists.”
  • The 2019 amendment gives unfettered powers to investigating agencies.
  • The law is against the federal structure, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of unlawful activity.
  2. Powers of Centre under the act.
  3. Is judicial review applicable in such cases?
  4. Changes brought about by amendments in 2004 and 2019.
  5. Can foreign nationals be charged under the act?

Mains Link:

Do you agree that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act could prove catastrophic for fundamental rights? Is sacrificing liberty for national security justified? Discuss and provide for your opinion.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Kosi Rail Mahasetu:

  • Inaugurated recently in Bihar.
  • Sanctioned by the Centre during 2003-04.
  • Connects Nirmali and Saraigarh districts of Bihar.
  • Provides a shorter route to the Northeast.
  • The bridge is of strategic importance along the India-Nepal border.

Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill 2020:

The bill has been passed by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

  • This paves the way to establish a state-of-the-art Ayurvedic institution called the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) at Jamnagar, Gujarat, and to confer the status of Institution of National Importance (INI) to it.
  • ITRA will be the first institution with INI status in the AYUSH Sector.
  • It will be established by conglomerating the presently existing Ayurveda institutes at Gujarat Ayurved University campus Jamnagar.

Nuclear Power Generation in India:

Presently, two public sector companies of the Department of Atomic Energy, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI) are involved in nuclear power generation.

  • There is no proposal under consideration at present to permit non-Government sector in the area of nuclear power generation.
  • There are presently twenty-two (22) reactors with a capacity of 6780 MW in operation in the country.

FDI in atomic energy:

The present policy (Consolidated FDI Policy of Government) puts atomic energy in the list of prohibited sectors. However, there is no restriction on FDI in the nuclear industry for manufacturing of equipment and providing other supplies for nuclear power plants and related other facilities.

  • Besides, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 was amended in 2015 to enable the licensing of NPCIL’s Joint Ventures for setting up nuclear power projects.0

Kalinga frog in Western Ghats:

Why in News?

Scientists have reported a first-of-its-kind discovery of morphological phenotypic plasticity (MPP) in the Kalinga cricket frog.

What is MPP?

MPP is the ability of an organism to show drastic morphological (physical features) variations in response to natural environmental variations or stimuli.

About Kalinga Frog:

Its documentation was done in 2018 and reported from the Eastern Ghats.

It was thought to be endemic to the hill ranges of the Eastern Ghats. But now, researchers have reported the Kalinga cricket frog from the central Western Ghats, with the evidence of considerable ‘morphological phenotypic plasticity (MPP)’.

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Tidal disruption events.

 


Articles covered previously


Special Marriage Act:

Why in News now?

The Supreme Court has asked for the government’s response to a plea that wide publication of the personal details of a couple who want to wed under the Special Marriage Act is a violation of their privacy.

What’s the issue?

The petitioner had argued that the publication of confidential details through a public notice has a chilling effect on the right to marry, particularly in the backdrop of honour killings and violence committed against those who enter into inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.

  • In other words, couples are asked to waive the right to privacy to exercise the right to marry.

Details of the issue:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/09/04/special-marriage-act-1954/.


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