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.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
1. Bonda tribe and Didayi tribe.
3. Mass Pilot Whale Strandings in Tasmania.
4. Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA) Faculty Scheme.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
Why in News?
Eight Rajya Sabha MPs were suspended on September 21 for unruly behaviour in the House.
- The government moved a motion seeking the suspension of these MPs and it was passed by voice vote.
Power to suspend Rajya Sabha MPs:
The Chairman of Rajya Sabha is empowered under Rule Number 255 to “direct any Member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately” from the House.
- Unlike the Speaker, however, the Rajya Sabha Chairman does not have the power to suspend a Member. The House may, by another motion, terminate the suspension.
The House may adopt a motion suspending the Member from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
- It is the role and duty of the Presiding Officer — Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha — to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly.
How can suspension of MPs be justified? Isn’t this an extreme step to take in order to curb unruly behaviour?
The solution to unruly behaviour has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values.
There can be no question that the enforcement of the supreme authority of the Presiding Officer is essential for smooth conduct of proceedings. However, a balance has to be struck. It must be remembered that the job of the Presiding Officer is to run the House, not to lord over it.
- Power to suspend MPs vs powers to revoke suspension.
- Difference in procedures followed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in this regard.
- Appeals with regard to election of MPs.
- Rules in this regard.
The solution to unruly behaviour of MPs in Parliament has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values. Comment.
Sources: Indian Express.
Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Recently, the government pushed through two crucial agriculture Bills in Rajya Sabha, rejecting Opposition demands that they be referred to a Select Committee of Rajya Sabha.
- Proceedings were disrupted as the Opposition protested against the fact that neither Bill had been scrutinised by a parliamentary committee.
What is a Select Committee?
This is formed for examining a particular Bill and its membership is limited to MPs from one House.
- They are chaired by MPs from the ruling party.
- Since Select Committees are constituted for a specific purpose, they are disbanded after their report.
Parliament scrutinises legislative proposals (Bills) in two ways:
By discussing it on the floor of the two Houses:
- This is a legislative requirement; all Bills have to be taken up for debate.
By referring a Bill to a parliamentary committee:
- But, since Parliament meets for 70 to 80 days in a year, there is not enough time to discuss every Bill in detail on the floor of the House. In such scenarios, the bill are referred to a parliamentary committee.
- Referring of Bills to parliamentary committees is not mandatory.
When does a committee examine a Bill?
Bills are not automatically sent to committees for examination.
There are three broad paths by which a Bill can reach a committee. They are:
- When the minister piloting the Bill recommends to the House that his Bill be examined by a Select Committee of the House or a joint committee of both Houses.
- If the minister makes no such motion, it is up to the presiding officer of the House to decide whether to send a Bill to a departmentally related Standing Committee.
- Also, a Bill passed by one House can be sent by the other House to its Select Committee.
What happens after the the bill is referred to a committee?
- The committee undertakes a detailed examination of the Bill.
- It invites comments and suggestions from experts, stakeholders and citizens.
- The government also appears before the committee to present its viewpoint.
- All this results in a report that makes suggestions for strengthening the Bill.
- The report of the committee is of a recommendatory nature.
Time taken to submit reports:
The Bill can only progress in Parliament after the committee has submitted its report. Usually, parliamentary committees are supposed to submit their reports in three months, but sometimes it can take longer.
- In the current Lok Sabha, 17 Bills have been referred to committees.
- In the 16th Lok Sabha (2014-19), 25% of the Bills were referred to committees, which was much lower than the 71% and 60% in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha respectively.
- Difference between Parliamentary vs Cabinet committees.
- Standing vs select vs finance committees.
- Who appoints chairperson and members of these committees?
- Committees exclusive to only Lok Sabha.
- Committees where Speaker is the chairperson.
What are Parliamentary Standing committees? Why are they necessary? Discuss their roles and functions to bring out their significance.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
State Bank of India has raised ₹7,000 crore by issuing Basel III compliant bonds.
- Bonds issued qualify as tier II capital of the bank, and has face value of Rs 10 lakh each.
- They bear coupon rate of 6.24 per cent per annum payable annually for a tenor of 10 years.
- There is call option after 5 years and on anniversary thereafter. Call option means the issuer of the bonds can call back the bonds before the maturity date by paying back the principal amount to investors.
What are Basel guidelines?
Basel guidelines refer to broad supervisory standards formulated by group of central banks- called the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS). The set of agreement by the BCBS, which mainly focuses on risks to banks and the financial system are called Basel accord.
- Basel is a city in Switzerland which is also the headquarters of Bureau of International Settlement (BIS).
- The purpose of the accords is to ensure that financial institutions have enough capital on account to meet obligations and absorb unexpected losses.
- Introduced in 1988.
- Focused almost entirely on credit risk, it defined capital and structure of risk weights for banks.
- The minimum capital requirement was fixed at 8% of risk-weighted assets (RWA).
- India adopted Basel 1 guidelines in 1999.
Published in 2004.
The guidelines were based on three parameters:
- Banks should maintain a minimum capital adequacy requirement of 8% of risk assets.
- Banks were needed to develop and use better risk management techniques in monitoring and managing all the three types of risks that is credit and increased disclosure requirements. The three types of risk are- operational risk, market risk, capital risk.
- Banks need to mandatory disclose their risk exposure to the central bank.
In 2010, Basel III guidelines were released. These guidelines were introduced in response to the financial crisis of 2008.
- Basel III norms aim at making most banking activities such as their trading book activities more capital-intensive.
- The guidelines aim to promote a more resilient banking system by focusing on four vital banking parameters viz. capital, leverage, funding and liquidity.
- What are Basel norms?
- Where is Basel?
- Composition and functions of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS).
- About the Bureau of International Settlement (BIS).
- Overview of Basel norms 1,2 and 3.
Discuss the significance of Basel Norms.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
The Customs (Administration of Rules of Origin under Trade Agreements) Rules, 2020 (CAROTAR, 2020) came into force on September 21.
What are these rules?
They set guidelines for enforcement of the ‘rules of origin’ for allowing preferential rate on imports under free trade agreements.
- They supplement the existing operational certification procedures prescribed under different trade agreements (FTA/ PTA/ CECA/ CEPA).
They were notified on 21st August, 2020 by the Department of Revenue. 30 day period was given to importers and other stakeholders to familiarize themselves with new provisions.
- An importer is now required to do due diligence before importing the goods to ensure that they meet the prescribed originating criteria.
- A list of minimum information which the importer is required to possess has also been provided in the rules along with general guidance.
- An importer would now have to enter certain origin related information in the Bill of Entry, as available in the Certificate of Origin.
The new norms have been framed with a view to check inbound shipments of low quality products and dumping of goods by a third country routed through an FTA partner country.
- Under these rules, a country that has inked an FTA with India cannot dump goods from some third country in the Indian market by just putting a label on it.
Significance of these rules:
The new Rules will support the importer to correctly ascertain the country of origin, properly claim the concessional duty and assist Customs authorities in smooth clearance of legitimate imports under FTAs.
- The new Rules would also strengthen the hands of the Customs in checking any attempted misuse of the duty concessions under FTAs.
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.
Feluda is the acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay.
- It is an accurate and low-cost paper-based test strip to detect Covid-19 in less than 30 minutes.
- It was approved recently for commercial launch by the Drugs Controller General of India.
- Developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Tata Group.
How it works?
It uses indigenously developed CRISPR gene-editing technology to identify and target the genetic material of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
- According to CSIR, the test matches accuracy levels of RT-PCR tests.
- It has a quicker turnaround time and requires less expensive equipment.
- ‘Feluda’ is also the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus.
What is CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology?
It is a gene editing technology and finds its use in correcting genetic defects and treating and preventing the spread of diseases.
- The technology can detect specific sequences of DNA within a gene and uses an enzyme functioning as molecular scissors to snip it.
- It also allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.
- The technology can also be configured for detection of multiple other pathogens in the future.
- What is Feluda test?
- What is CRISPR technology?
- What is RT-PCR test?
- Other tests related to Covid-19.
What is Feluda Test for COVID-19? How is it carried out? Discuss.
Sources: Indian Express.
Topics Covered: Investment models.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is preparing to come up with its InvIT issue.
- It had received approval from the Union Cabinet in this regard in December 2019.
What are Infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs)?
They are institutions similar to mutual funds, which pool investment from various categories of investors and invest them into completed and revenue-generating infrastructure projects, thereby creating returns for the investor.
They are regulated under the Sebi (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014 and the Indian Trust Act, 1882.
Structure of InvITs:
They have a trustee, sponsor(s), investment manager and project manager.
- Trustee (certified by Sebi) has the responsibility of inspecting the performance of an InvIT.
- Sponsor(s) are promoters of the company that set up the InvIT.
- Investment manager is entrusted with the task of supervising the assets and investments of the InvIT.
- Project manager is responsible for the execution of the project.
How does it benefit the investor?
- InvITs enable investors to buy a small portion of the units being sold by the fund depending upon their risk appetite.
- Given that such trusts comprise largely of completed and operational projects with positive cash flow, the risks are somewhat contained.
- Unitholders also benefit from favourable tax norms, including exemption on dividend income and no capital gains tax if units are held for more than three years.
How will it help NHAI?
The issue will enable NHAI to monetise its completed National Highways that have a toll collection track record of at least one year.
This will help the company raise funds for more road development across the country.
Sources: Indian Express.
Topics Covered: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges.
Delhi journalist arrested under Official Secrets Act for passing on information such as the deployment of Indian troops on the border to Chinese intelligence officers.
About the Official Secrets Act:
Originally enacted during the time of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.
- One of the main purposes of the Act was to muzzle the voice of nationalist publications.
- The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) replaced the earlier Act, and was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.
Ambit of the Act:
It broadly deals with two aspects:
- Spying or espionage, covered under Section 3.
- Disclosure of other secret information of the government, under Section 5.
Is “secret information” defined?
The Act does not say what a “secret” document is. It is the government’s discretion to decide what falls under the ambit of a “secret” document.
- It has often been argued that the law is in direct conflict with the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- However, please note that if there is any inconsistency in the Official Secret Act with regard to furnishing of information, it will be superseded by the RTI Act.
- But, under Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act, the government can still refuse information.
- Overview of Official Secrets Act.
- Key provisions.
- Ambit of the Act.
- Official Secrets Act vs RTI.
Sources: Indian Express.
Facts for Prelims
Bonda tribe and Didayi tribe:
- These tribes are from Odisha. These groups are classified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
- Of the 62 tribal groups in Odisha, 13 are recognised as PVTGs – the highest in the country.
Why in News?
Members of these tribes have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
- Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that mainly infects cattle, swine, goats, sheep and dogs.
- Humans can get infected if they come in direct contact with infected animals or by eating or drinking contaminated animal products or by inhaling airborne agents.
- According to the WHO, most cases of the disease are caused by ingesting unpasteurised milk or cheese from infected goats or sheep.
Why in News?
The health commission of Lanzhou City in China announced this week that a leak in a biopharmaceutical company last year caused an outbreak of brucellosis disease. More than 3,000 people have been infected with the disease since and no fatalities have been reported so far.
Mass Pilot Whale Strandings in Tasmania:
Whale strandings are not uncommon in Tasmania, and whale strandings of this scale are not uncommon either. However, exact reasons for stranding are unknown yet. (The term stranding refers to an aquatic animal observed in an inappropriate location, for example, an offshore species found inshore. Most often, stranded animals are found on a beach or in shallow water)
- Pilot whales are so named because it was once believed that each observed group was navigated by a pilot or leader.
- Their Latin name, Globicephala, means ‘round head’, which is one of the main identifying features of the species.
- There are two species of pilot whales: Short finned pilot whales, which are mainly found in tropical and warm-temperate regions, and long-finned pilot whales, which inhabit colder waters.
- Both species are designated as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Bacteria behind deaths of 330 Botswana elephants:
Investigations have shown that toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria killed more than 300 elephants in Botswana this year.
- Botswana is home to a third of Africa’s declining elephant population.
- Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil.
- Also known as blue-green algae, they are found worldwide especially in calm, nutrient-rich waters
- Some species of cyanobacteria produce toxins that affect animals and humans
- People may be exposed to cyanobacterial toxins by drinking or bathing in contaminated water
- Symptoms include skin irritation, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, fever, sore throat, headache
- Animals, birds, and fish can also be poisoned by high levels of toxin-producing cyanobacteria.
Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA) Faculty Scheme:
Launched by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a Statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
- This Scheme is to bring overseas scientists and academicians including Non-resident Indians (NRI) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) to India to work in public funded Institutions and Universities for a specific period of time.
- The scheme offers adjunct / visiting faculty assignments to overseas scientists including Indian researchers to undertake high quality collaborative research in cutting edge areas of science and technology with one or more Indian collaborators.
Articles covered previously
Parliament passes Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Bill:
Government declares Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for Rabi Crops:
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi crops for marketing season 2021-22.
- This increase in MSP is in line with the recommendations of Swaminathan Commission.
- Swaminathan Committee had recommended that MSP should be at least 50% more that the average production cost.