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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 12 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. Right To Information Act, 2005.

2. ‘Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas’ (SVAMITVA) scheme.

3. World Bank “Beaten or Broken? Report.

4. China’s debt- trap diplomacy.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. What is the ‘Feluda’ test for Covid-19?

2. Delhi issues notification on tax waiver for battery vehicles.

3. ‘Blue Flag’ beaches.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Skal International Asia Area (SIAA).

2. ‘10 Hafte 10 Baje 10 Minute’ Campaign.

3. Goa declared first Har Ghar Jal State.

4. Bhai Taru Singh.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

The Right To Information Act, 2005:


Context:

October 12 marks 15 years since the implementation of the Right to Information Act.

A look at its performance:

  • More than 2.2 lakh cases are pending at the Central and State Information Commissions, which are the final courts of appeal under the law.
  • The increasing backlog is exacerbated by the fact that most commissions are functioning at a reduced capacity, including the Central Information Commission (CIC), which has been headless since August.
  • Maharashtra had the highest number of pending appeals, with over 59,000 cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh (47,923) and the CIC (35,653).

About the RTI Act, 2005:

It sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizens’ right to information.

It replaced the former Freedom of Information Act, 2002.

  • This act was enacted in order to consolidate the fundamental right in the Indian constitution ‘freedom of speech’. Since RTI is implicit in the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, it is an implied fundamental right.

Key Provisions:

  • Section 4 of the RTI Act requires suo motu disclosure of information by each public authority.
  • Section 8 (1) mentions exemptions against furnishing information under RTI Act.
  • Section 8 (2) provides for disclosure of information exempted under Official Secrets Act, 1923 if larger public interest is served.

Information Commissioners and PIOs:

  • The Act also provides for appointment of Information Commissioners at Central and State level.
  • Public authorities have designated some of its officers as Public Information Officer. They are responsible to give information to a person who seeks information under the RTI Act.

Time period:

In normal course, information to an applicant is to be supplied within 30 days from the receipt of application by the public authority.

  • If information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, it shall be supplied within 48 hours.
  • In case the application is sent through the Assistant Public Information Officer or it is sent to a wrong public authority, five days shall be added to the period of thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be.

Applicability of RTI to:

Private bodies:

Private bodies are not within the Act’s ambit directly.

  • In a decision of Sarbjit roy vs Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Central Information Commission also reaffirmed that privatised public utility companies fall within the purview of RTI.

Political parties:

The Central Information Commission (CIC) had held that the political parties are public authorities and are answerable to citizens under the RTI Act.

But in August 2013 the government introduced a Right To Information (Amendment) Bill which would remove political parties from the scope of the law.

  • Currently no parties are under the RTI Act and a case has been filed for bringing all political parties under it.

Chief Justice of India:

Supreme Court of India on 13 November 2019, upheld the decision of Delhi High Court bringing the office of Chief Justice of India under the purview of Right to Information (RTI) Act.

key_points

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of Public Authority under the act.
  2. Exceptions under the act.
  3. About Chief Information Commissioner.
  4. State Information Commissioners.
  5. Public Information Officers.
  6. Latest amendments.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the RTI Act, 2005.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

‘Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas’ (SVAMITVA) scheme:


Why in News?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the physical distribution of property cards under the scheme.

  • This launch will enable nearly one lakh property holders to download their property cards through SMS on their mobile phones and pave the way for villagers to use property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.

About SVAMITVA scheme:

  • Launched by PM Modi in April this year with the aim to update rural land records, providing record of rights to village households and issue property cards.
  • It is a central scheme of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development.
  • The scheme focuses on mapping rural-inhabited lands using drones as land records are inaccurate or do not exist for vast areas across India.

Property cards:

Property card for every property in the village will be prepared by states using accurate measurements delivered by drone-mapping. These cards will be given to property owners and will be recognised by the land revenue records department.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. When and why is Panchayati Raj Diwas is celebrated?
  2. As per the scheme, who issues property cards?
  3. Various benefits under the scheme.
  4. Nodal Ministry to implement the scheme.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the scheme.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Education related issues.

World Bank “Beaten or Broken? Informality and COVID-19 in South Asia” report:


Context:

Released recently.

  • The report analyses the impact of school closures because of Covid on children.

Key findings:

  • South Asia region stands to lose USD 622 billion from the school closures in the present scenario or up to USD 880 billion in a more pessimistic scenario.
  • While the regional loss is largely driven by India, all countries will lose substantial shares of their GDP.
  • South Asia is set to plunge into its worst-ever recession in 2020 as the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the region’s economies linger.
  • Temporary school closures in all South Asian countries have kept 391 million students out of school in primary and secondary education, further complicating efforts to resolve the learning crisis.
  • The pandemic may cause up to 5.5 million students to drop out from the education system and cause substantial learning losses, which will have a lifetime impact on the productivity of a generation of students.
  • The projected learning loss for the region is 0.5 years of learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS), falling from 6.5 LAYS to 6.0 LAYS, an enormous setback from recent advances in schooling.
  • Based on country data on household labor incomes, the average child in South Asia may lose USD 4,400 in lifetime earnings once having entered the labour market, equivalent to 5 percent of total earnings.

What is the ‘Learning Adjusted Year of Schooling” (LAYS) concept?

Introduced by the World Bank, it seeks to combine access and learning outcomes into a single measure.

It combines quantity (years of schooling) and quality (how much kids know at a given grade level) into a single summary measure of human capital in a society.

How Covid 19 will affect labour productivity?

  • Increased integration of the global economy will amplify the adverse impact of COVID-19.
  • Contagion prevention and physical distancing may render some activities, for example the hospitality sector, unviable unless they are radically transformed, which will take time.
  • Disruptions to training, schooling and other education in the event of severe income losses, even once restrictions are lifted, will also lower human capital and labour productivity over the long term.

Indian scenario:

The prolonged closure of schools may cause a loss of over USD 400 billion in the country’s future earnings, besides substantial learning losses.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Various World Bank reports.
  2. What is the ‘Learning Adjusted Year of Schooling” (LAYS) concept?

Mains Link:

Suggest ways to address the challenges highlighted by the report.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

China’s Debt-trap diplomacy:


Context:

China has announced that it is providing a $90 million grant to Sri Lanka.

  • This announcement comes after Sri Lankan President sought help from a visiting Chinese delegation in disproving a perception that China-funded megaprojects are “debt traps.”

What’s the issue?

China has been using the financial tool of debt to gain influence across the world and grab considerable power in India’s neighbouring countries, thereby increasing the amount of political and security threats the nation is exposed to.

How does China’s debt trap diplomacy work?

  1. In a push to gain rapid political and economic ascendency across the globe, China dispenses billions of dollars in the form of concessional loans to developing countries, mostly for their large-scale infrastructure projects.
  2. These developing nations, which are primarily low- or middle-income countries, are unable to keep up with the repayments, and Beijing then gets a chance to demand concessions or advantages in exchange for debt relief.

How countries are being trapped?

There are several advantages or concessions that China asks for in exchange for debt relief.

  1. Sri Lanka was forced to hand over control of the Hambantota port project to China for 99 years, after it found itself under massive debt owed to Beijing. This allowed China control over a key port positioned at the doorstep of its regional rival India, and a strategic foothold along a key commercial and military waterway.
  2. In exchange for relief, China constructed its first military base in Djibouti. Whereas Angola is replaying multibillion-dollar debt to China with crude oil, creating major problems for its economy.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is China Pakistan Economic Corridor?
  2. What is Kaladan Multimodal Project?
  3. What is Belt and Road initiative?
  4. Where is Hambantota port?
  5. Where are Gwadar and Chabahar ports Located?

Mains Link:

What is China’s debt-trap diplomacy? Why is India worried? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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.

What is the ‘Feluda’ test for Covid-19?


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 and can deliver a result in 45 minutes.
  • It has been approved 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.

Significance:

  • 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.

test_horizon

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Feluda test?
  2. What is CRISPR technology?
  3. What is RT-PCR test?
  4. Other tests related to Covid-19.

Mains Link:

What is Feluda Test for COVID-19? How is it carried out? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics: Infrastructure- energy.

Delhi issues notification on tax waiver for battery vehicles:


Context:

Delhi Transport Department has issued a gazette notification stating full waiver on road tax on the battery-operated vehicles under the Electric Vehicle [EV] policy.

Overview of Delhi EV Policy:

Delhi EV Policy 2020 was unveiled last month with a focus to increase the adoption of electric vehicles in Delhi by incentivising the purchase and use of the EVs.

  • The policy aims to register 5 lakh electric vehicles in the city by 2024.

Highlights of the policy:

  • Aims to constitute 25% electric vehicles by 2024, which is currently just 0.29% in the in the national capital.
  • The government will give low-interest loan on electric commercial vehicles.
  • An ‘EV Cell’ will be established to implement the Policy.
  • The government will also set up a ‘State Electric Vehicle Board’.
  • 200 charging stations will be set up in a year to ensure that people driving these vehicles can get a charging station within the radius of three kilometers.
  • The Delhi government will give a ”scrapping incentive” under the policy, which will be first-of-its-kind in the country.

electric_vehicle

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

‘Blue Flag’ beaches:


Context:

Two beaches in Karnataka are among the eight in India that have bagged the coveted eco-label ‘Blue Flag’ from the international agency, Foundation for Environment Education, Denmark. The two are:

  1. Kasarkod beach near Honnavar in Uttara Kannada.
  2. Padubidri beach near Udupi.

Other beaches:

  1. Shivrajpur (Dwarka-Gujarat).
  2. Ghoghla (Diu).
  3. Kappad (Kerala).
  4. Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh).
  5. Golden (Puri-Odisha).
  6. Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).

Background:

Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has embarked upon a programme for ‘Blue Flag’ certification for 13 beaches in the country.

About Blue flag programme:

The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).

  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.

What is a Blue Flag beach?

It is an ‘eco-tourism model’ and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area.

Criteria:

There are nearly 33 criteria that must be met to qualify for a Blue Flag certification, such as the water meeting certain quality standards, having waste disposal facilities, being disabled- friendly, have first aid equipment, and no access to pets in the main areas of the beach. Some criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.

Relevant facts for Prelims:

  • Spain tops the list with more than 560 such beaches; Greece and France follow.
  • Chandrabhaga beach of Odisha’s Konark coast is the first to complete the tag certification process.
  • India is now in the league of 50 “BLUE FLAG” countries.
  • Japan, South Korea and the UAE are the only other Asian nations that have been conferred with a couple of Blue Flag beaches, however, in a time frame of about 5 to 6 years.

Is Blue Flag certification available only for beaches?

No. It can be given to a beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator.

  • Basically, the Blue Flag is a trademark.

blue_flag

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Blue Flag certification.
  2. Programme implemented by?
  3. Announced by?
  4. India’s and Asia’s first beach to get this certificate.
  5. Country having highest number of blue flag beaches.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Blue flag programme.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Skal International Asia Area (SIAA):

Why in News?

UT of Jammu & Kashmir will host the 50th annual Skal International Asia Area (SIAA) congress in 2021.

Key points:

  • Founded in 1934, Skål International is the only professional organization promoting global Tourism and friendship, uniting all sectors of the Tourism industry.
  • It is the world’s largest global network of Tourism Professionals promoting Tourism, Business and Friendship worldwide.
  • Its members are Directors and Executives of the Tourism sector who relate to each other to address issues of common interest, improving a business network and promoting destinations.
  • It is an Affiliated Member of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
  • Skål International holds an annual World Congress each year in a different country.

‘10 Hafte 10 Baje 10 Minute’ Campaign:

It is an anti- dengue campaign by Delhi Government.

The campaign requires Delhi residents to give 10 minutes every Sunday — from September 1 till November 15 — to ensure there’s no stagnant water in their houses or surroundings to prevent the breeding of dengue-carrier mosquitoes.

Goa declared first Har Ghar Jal State:

Goa has become the first Har Ghar Jal State in the country by providing tap water connection to every rural household.

  • The state has provided tap water connection to two lakh 30 thousand rural households.

har_ghar_jal

Bhai Taru Singh:

Context: 300th birth anniversary.

Who was Bhai Taru Singh?

  • He was a prominent Sikh martyr known for sacrificing his life, in the name of protecting Sikh values, by having had his head scalped rather than cutting his hair and converting to Islam.
  • Born in 1720.

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Iran nuclear deal.

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