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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 8 October 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. Bodoland poll gets Assam Cabinet nod.

2. Who is a star campaigner?

3. Contempt of Court.

4. SC: public places cannot be occupied indefinitely.

5. River Boards.

6. Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report.

7. New H-1B curbs.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

2. Google to face antitrust case in India.

3. Natural Gas Marketing Reforms.

4. Air Quality Index.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Abortelphusa Namdaphaensis.

2. Deputy Governors of RBI.

3. India, Japan finalise text of pact for AI, 5G.

4. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Bodoland poll gets Assam Cabinet nod:


Context:

Assam Cabinet has decided to request the State Election Commission to schedule the Bodoland Territorial Council election in December.

Background:

The elections to 40 seats in the council were to have been held on April 4 but were deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council has been under the Governor’s rule since its dissolution on April 27.

bodoland

Basics:

What are Autonomous District Councils?

As per the Sixth Schedule, the four states viz. Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram contain the Tribal Areas which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas.

Though these areas fall within the executive authority of the state, provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers.

  • Each district is an autonomous district and Governor can modify / divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification.

The Governor may, by public notification:

(a) Include any area.

(b) exclude any area.

(c) create a new autonomous district.

(d) increase the area of any autonomous district.

(e) diminish the area of any autonomous district.

(f) alter the name of any autonomous district.

(g) define the boundaries of any autonomous district.

Constitution of District Councils and Regional Councils:

(1) There shall be a District Council for each autonomous district consisting of not more than thirty members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage.

(2) There shall be a separate Regional Council for each area constituted an autonomous region.

(3) Each District Council and each Regional Council shall be a body corporate by the name respectively of the District Council of (name of district) and the Regional Council of (name of region), shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and shall by the said name sue and be sued.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an autonomous district council?
  2. Who constitutes them?
  3. Powers and roles?
  4. What are regional councils?
  5. Composition of these councils?
  6. How many states are covered under 6th schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Mains Link:

What are Autonomous District Councils? Why have they been constituted? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Who is a star campaigner?


Context:

The Election Commission has revised norms for star campaigners for polls during the pandemic.

Changes proposed:

  • Maximum number of star campaigners reduced from 40 to 30 for a recognised party.
  • For unrecognised registered parties, the number of star campaigners has been reduced from 20 to 15.
  • Besides, they now require permission from the district election official 48 hours prior to campaigning.

Who are star campaigners?

They can be described as persons who are nominated by parties to campaign in a given set of Constituencies. These persons are, in almost all cases, prominent and popular faces within the Party. However, there are no specific definitions according to law or the Election Commission of India.

Benefits:

The expenditure incurred on campaigning by such campaigners is exempt from being added to the election expenditure of a candidate. However, this only applies when a star campaigner limits herself to a general campaign for the political party she represents.

What if a star campaigner campaigns specifically for one candidate?

If a candidate or her election agent shares the stage with a star campaigner at a rally, then the entire expenditure on that rally, other than the travel expenses of the star campaigner, is added to the candidate’s expenses.

  • Even if the candidate is not present at the star campaigner’s rally, but there are posters with her photographs or her name on display, the entire expenditure will be added to the candidate’s account.
  • This applies even if the star campaigner mentions the candidate’s name during the event. When more than one candidate shares the stage, or there are posters with their photographs, then the expenses of such rally/meeting are equally divided between all such candidates.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who is a star campaigner?
  2. How they are recognised?
  3. Recommended limits on their number by Election Commission.
  4. Benefits.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Contempt of Court:


Context:

Gujarat HC holds lawyer guilty in criminal contempt case.

What is Contempt?

While the basic idea of a contempt law is to punish those who do not respect the orders of the courts, in the Indian context, contempt is also used to punish speech that lowers the dignity of the court and interferes with the administration of justice.

Contempt of court can be of two kinds:

  1. Civil, that is the willful disobedience of a court order or judgment or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
  2. Criminal, that is written or spoken words or any act that scandalises the court or lowers its authority or prejudices or interferes with the due course of a judicial proceeding or interferes/obstructs the administration of justice.

Relevant provisions:

  • Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.
  • Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 defines the power of the High Court to punish contempts of its subordinate courts.
  • The Constitution also includes contempt of court as a reasonable restriction to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, along with elements like public order and defamation.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Powers of SC vs HCs wrt Contempt cases.
  2. Constitutional provisions in this regard.
  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: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

SC: public places cannot be occupied indefinitely:


What was the case?

On March 23, the Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest against the citizenship law was cleared by Delhi police after curbs were imposed on assembly and movement of people in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The protest had been on for more than 100 days.

  • Even the apex court had appointed interlocutors to hold talks with the protesters and report back on the ground situation.

What has the Supreme Court ruled now?

  1. The judgment upheld the right to peaceful protest against a law but made it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied, and that too indefinitely.
  2. It is the duty of the administration to remove such road blockades.
  3. Dissent and democracy go hand in hand but protests must be carried out in designated area.

Restrictions on Fundamental Rights:

Fundamental rights do not live in isolation. These rights are subject to reasonable restrictions imposed in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and public order.

Basics:

Right to Protest peacefully:

The right to protest peacefully is guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(b) give to all citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression, and to assemble peaceably and without arms.

However, under Articles 19(2) and 19(3), the right to freedom of speech is subject to “reasonable restrictions”.

  • These include the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Powers of state:

The legal provisions and avenue available to police for handling agitations, protests, and unlawful assemblies are covered by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, and The Police Act, 1861.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Rights under Article 19.
  2. What are reasonable restrictions?
  3. Overview of Right to Protest peacefully.

Mains Link:

Dissent and democracy go hand in hand but protests must be carried out in designated area. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

River Boards:


Context:

The Centre recently said that it will determine the jurisdictions of the Krishna and Godavari river management boards (KRMB and GRMB).

  • It was announced during the meeting of the apex council involving the Centre, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The meeting was held primarily to resolve the conflict between the two States over executing irrigation projects and sharing water from the Krishna and Godavari rivers.

Background:

The apex council has been constituted by the Central Government under the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act (APRA), 2014.

  • It supervises the functioning of the Godavari River Management Board and Krishna River Management Board.
  • It comprises the Union Jal Shakti Minister and the Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Outcomes of the meeting:

  • The two states would submit Detailed Project Reports (DPR) of new irrigation projects for appraisal and sanction by the apex council.
  • The apex council would work towards establishing a mechanism to determine the share of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the Krishna and Godavari waters. The centre is expected to refer water sharing issues to the Krishna Godavari tribunal.
  • The headquarters of the KRMB would be located in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Telangana Chief Minister agreed to withdraw the case filed in Supreme Court, to allow the Centre to refer water sharing issues to the Krishna Godavari tribunal.

Basics:

Inter-State River Water Disputes:

Article 262 of the Constitution provides for the adjudication of inter-state water disputes.

  • Under this, Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution and control of waters of any inter-state river and river valley.
  • Parliament may also provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court is to exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint.

The Parliament has enacted the two laws:

  1. The River Boards Act (1956).
  2. The Inter-State Water Disputes Act (1956).
  1. The River Boards Act:

It provides for the establishment of river boards by the Central government for the regulation and development of inter-state river and river valleys.

A River Board is established on the request of state governments concerned to advise them.

  1. The Inter-State Water Disputes Act:

It empowers the Central government to set up an ad hoc tribunal for the adjudication of a dispute between two or more states in relation to the waters of an inter-state river or river valley.

  • The decision of the tribunal is final and binding on the parties to the dispute.
  • Neither the Supreme Court nor any other court is to have jurisdiction in respect of any water dispute which may be referred to such a tribunal under this Act.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Tributaries of Krishna.
  2. Tributaries of Godavari.
  3. East vs West flowing rivers of India.
  4. Interstate river water disputes- key provisions.
  5. Krishna and Godavari River Management Boards- formation, functions and orders.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report:


Context:

It is a biennial report of the World Bank.

  • It provides a global audience with the latest and most accurate estimates on trends in global poverty and shared prosperity.

Key findings in the latest report:

Overall scenario:

  • Global extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in 20 years because of the disruption caused by COVID-19.
  • This will exacerbate the impact of conflict and climate change, which were already slowing down poverty reduction.
  • The pandemic may push another 88 million to 115 million into extreme poverty or having to live on less than $1.50 per day, resulting in a total of 150 million such individuals.

Worst affected regions:

  • Many of the newly poor individuals will be from countries that already have high poverty rates while many in middle income countries (MICs) will slip below the poverty line.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, will be badly hit as per the Bank’s projections.

What needs to be done now?

In order to reverse this serious setback to development progress and poverty reduction, countries will need to:

  • Prepare for a different economy post-COVID, by allowing capital, labour, skills, and innovation to move into new businesses and sectors.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

New H-1B curbs:


Context:

The United States has issued new rules that make it harder for US companies to employ people on H-1B non-immigrant visas.

The Interim Final Rules change:

  • The definitions of specialty occupation, employer and employee-employer relationship.
  • Limit visa validity to one year for a worker at a third-party work site.
  • Increases enforcement and investigations for these visas.

Concerns for India:

The new rules will impact Indian services and staffing firms who often place workers on projects at third-party locations.

  • Indian nationals have received over 70% of the H-1B visas issued over the last few years, even as the share of Indian tech companies in the top 10 visa recipients has been dropping steadily in favour of American tech companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon.

Why should the US be worried about these changes?

The changes will restrict access to talent and harm the American economy.

They would also endanger U.S. jobs, put U.S. interests at risk and slow down R&D into solutions for COVID-19 crisis.

Background:

What are H-1B, H-2B, L and other work visas?

In order to fill a vacuum of highly-skilled low-cost employees in IT and other related domains, the US administration issues a certain number of visas each year which allows companies from outside the US to send employees to work on client sites.

  1. H-1B: Person is Specialty Occupation: To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree of its equivalent.
  2. L1 visas allows companies to transfer highly skilled workers to US for a period of up to seven years.
  3. H-2B visas allow food and agricultural workers to seek employment in the US.
  4. J-1 Visas: It is for students on work-study summer programmes.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Differences between H1B, F1 and M1 Visas.
  2. Difference between an NRI and an OCI cardholder.
  3. When OCI and PIO were merged?
  4. The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 grants citizenship to?
  5. Constitutional provisions related to citizenship in India.

Mains Link:

Discuss the impact of recent changes in US visa rules on Indian students in the US.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

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.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry:


Context:

2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded for CRISPR/Cas9 ‘Genetic Scissors’.

  • Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer Doudna share the prize for developing the CRISPR/Cas9 tool to edit the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with precision.
  • It is possibly the only time in the history of Nobel Prize that two women have been declared the sole winners.

What is CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)?

How it works?

It locates the specific area in the genetic sequence which has been diagnosed to be the cause of the problem, cuts it out, and replaces it with a new and correct sequence that no longer causes the problem.

Details (For better understanding- need not mug up):

  1. An RNA molecule is programmed to locate the particular problematic sequence on the DNA strand, and a special protein called Cas9 (genetic scissor) is used to break and remove the problematic sequence.
  2. A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself. But the auto-repair mechanism can lead to the re-growth of a problematic sequence. Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process by supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes, which replaces the original sequence.
  3. It is like cutting a portion of a long zipper somewhere in between, and replacing that portion with a fresh segment.

What is the significance of this technology?

  1. It’s simple: Its simplicity has often been compared to the ‘Cut-Copy-Paste’ mechanism in any word processor (or probably, the equally common ‘Find-Replace’ mechanism).
  2. Potential applications: Its uses can potentially transform human beings, and all other life forms. It can potentially eliminate genetic, and other, diseases, multiply agricultural production, correct deformities, and even open up the more contentious possibilities of producing ‘designer babies’, and bringing cosmetic perfection.
  3. Efficient: Because the entire process is programmable, it has a remarkable efficiency, and has already brought almost miraculous results. Genetic sequences of disease-causing organisms can be altered to make them ineffective.
  4. For Agriculture: Genes of plants can be edited to make them withstand pests, or improve their tolerance to drought or temperature.

Ethical Concerns involved:

2018 Designer Babies: In November 2018, a Chinese researcher claimed that he had altered the genes of a human embryo that eventually resulted in the birth of twin baby girls. This was the first documented case of a ‘designer babies’ being produced using the new gene-editing tools like CRISPR, and this raised ethical concerns.

  • In the case of the Chinese twins, the genes were edited to ensure that they do not get infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This special trait would then be inherited by their subsequent generations as well.

What was the concern then?

The concerns were over the ethics of producing babies with particular genetic traits.

  • The problem in this case, potential infection to HIV virus, already had other alternative solutions and treatments. What made matters worse was that the gene-editing was probably done without any regulatory permission or oversight.
  • Besides, CRISPR technology wasn’t 100 per cent accurate, and it is possible that some other genes could also get altered by mistake.

CRISPR

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are genes?
  2. How are genes edited?
  3. What is Crispr technology?
  4. Applications of CRISPR.
  5. What are designer babies?
  6. Difference between DNA and RNA.

Mains Link:

Discuss the ethical concerns associated with CRISPR technology.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Google to face antitrust case in India:


Context:

Google is facing a new antitrust case in India. It is alleged to have abused its Android operating system’s position in the smart television market.

  • The case is Google’s fourth major antitrust challenge in India.
  • Besides, Google is also facing antitrust challenges in the U.S., and a potential antitrust probe in China.

What are anti-trust laws?

  • Also referred to as competition laws.
  • They are developed to protect consumers from predatory business practices.
  • They ensure that fair competition exists in an open-market economy.
  • They guard against would-be monopolies and disruptions to the productive ebb and flow of competition.

India’s Anti-Trust Regulation Framework:

The Competition Act, 2002 is India’s antitrust law. It replaced the Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices Act of 1969.

  • The Act prohibits: anti-competitive agreements; abuse of dominant position by enterprises; and regulates combinations (Mergers and Acquisition), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
  • Under the provisions of this act, the central government has established Competition Commission of India in 2003 which acts as a watchdog of free market economy.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About CCI.
  2. Various institution established under Competition Act, 2002.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- energy.

Natural Gas Marketing Reforms:


Context:

The Cabinet has approved the reforms to push the usage of Natural Gas.

The reforms:

  • The government will initiate standardised e-bidding for bringing transparency in the price of Natural Gas in the country.
  • Affiliate companies will be allowed to participate in the bidding process in view of the open, transparent and electronic bidding. This will facilitate and promote more competition in marketing of gas.
  • Marketing freedom will be granted to the Field Development Plans (FDPs) of those Blocks in which Production Sharing Contracts already provide pricing freedom.

Basics:

About Natural Gas:

Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuels among the available fossil fuels.

  • It is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium.
  • It is a potent greenhouse gas itself when released into the atmosphere, and creates carbon dioxide during oxidation.

 Uses:

  • It is used as a feedstock in the manufacture of fertilizers, plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals as well as used as a fuel for electricity generation, heating purpose in industrial and commercial units.
  • Natural gas is also used for cooking in domestic households and a transportation fuel for vehicles.

fossil

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Natural gas- production and availability.
  2. Components.
  3. Pollutants released by burning of natural gas.

Mains Link:

Discuss the potential of natural gas.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Air Quality Index:


Context:

Delhi’s air quality has entered the ‘poor’ zone on the Central Pollution Control Board’s air quality index — the first time since June 28.

What is the National Air Quality Index?

Launched in 2014 with outline ‘One Number – One Color -One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity.

  • The measurement of air quality is based on eight pollutants, namely: Particulate Matter (PM10), Particulate Matter (PM2.5), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Ammonia (NH3), and Lead (Pb).
  • AQI has six categories of air quality. These are: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately Polluted, Poor, Very Poor and Severe.
  • It has been developed by the CPCB in consultation with IIT-Kanpur and an expert group comprising medical and air-quality professionals.

pollution_control

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Abortelphusa Namdaphaensis:

  • It is a new freshwater crab species found recently on the edge of a small stream in Namdapha Tiger Reserve.
  • The genus (Abortelphusa) is named after the Abor Hills, the species (Namdaphaensis) is named after Namdapha.
  • Namdapha is known for its rich biodiversity, and believed to be the rare area that harbours four large cats: tigers, snow leopards, clouded leopards and leopards.

Abortelphusa_Namdaphaensis

Deputy Governors of RBI:

The Centre has appointed RBI’s senior-most Executive Director M. Rajeshwar Rao as Deputy Governor.

  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment.

How many deputy Governors are there in RBI?

As per the RBI Act, the central bank should have four deputy governors — two from within the ranks, one commercial banker and another an economist to head the monetary policy department.

  • The deputy governor appointments are made for an initial period of three years and the person is eligible for reappointment.

board_directors

India, Japan finalise text of pact for AI, 5G:

India and Japan have welcomed the finalisation of the text of a cybersecurity agreement.

  • The agreement promotes cooperation in capacity building, research and development, security and resilience in the areas of Critical Information Infrastructure, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others.

Gorkhaland Territorial Administration:

  • It is an Autonomous District Council for the Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas of the West Bengal state in India.
  • It was formed as a result of tripartite agreement between the West Bengal government, the Centre and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in 2011.
  • The GTA was formed to replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed in 1988 and administered the Darjeeling hills for 23 years.
  • GTA presently consists of three hill subdivisions Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik, some areas of Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district and the whole of Kalimpong district under its authority.

Gorkhaland_Territorial


Articles covered Previously


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