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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 27 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 1:

1. Why women in Poland are protesting a recent court ruling on abortions?

2. Coal scam.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. World Polio Day.

2. Why US President poll matters to India?

3. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. The plasma therapy debate.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Aenigmachanna gollum.

2. Oaxaca.

3. India–Australia Circular Economy Hackathon (I-ACE).

4. DoPT announces reforms regarding Child Care Leave.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Women related issues.

Why women in Poland are protesting a recent court ruling on abortions?


Context:

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that an existing law allowing abortion of malformed foetuses is unconstitutional, provoking an outcry from women and pro-choice activists.

  • The country’s 1993 abortion law so far permitted the termination of pregnancy on the grounds of foetal defects.

What was the ruling on abortions?

  • Permitting abortions in the case of foetal deformities legalised “eugenic practices with regard to an unborn child, thus denying it the respect and protection of human dignity”
  • The tribunal observed that since the Polish constitution assures a right to life, an abortion based on a foetal malfunction was “a directly forbidden form of discrimination.”

What does the court’s decision mean for the people of Poland?

Fewer than 2,000 legal abortions are carried out in Poland each year, a majority of which are due to foetal defects.

  • The court’s ruling now essentially translates to a near complete ban on abortions in the country.

Besides, an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 Polish women either go abroad or seek illegal abortions every year due to the country’s strict abortion laws.

  • Now, if the Court’s ruling is implemented, this number shall definitely increase.

Implications:

Poland’s abortion laws were already considered some of the strictest in Europe. Now, once the court’s decision is enacted, abortions will only be permitted in cases of rape, incest, or if there is a threat to the mother’s life.

Finally, it is being seen as an attack on women’s basic human rights.

International response:

  • The Council of Europe has condemned the abortion ruling.
  • Amnesty International and the Center for Reproductive Rights and Human Rights Watch have also criticised the ruling.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP), 1971.
  2. Key features of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
  3. Maximum permissible gestation age for abortion in India.
  4. Relevant Supreme Court judgments.

Mains Link:

How is abortion regulated in India? Discuss the laws in this regard.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

Coal scam:


Context:

A special CBI court has sentenced former Union Minister Dilip Ray and three other individual convicts to three years of jail term for irregularities in the allocation of the Brahmadiha coal block in Jharkhand in 1999.

What’s the case?

The Coal Ministry through its guidelines had specifically said no company engaged in production of iron and steel or sponge iron could get a captive coal mine if its production capacity was less than 1 lakh metric tonne per annum (MTPA) in opencast mining.

  • However, when private company Castron Technologies Ltd applied for Brahmadiha Coal Block in Giridih, the minister agreed to relax guidelines and allow the grant despite it not being eligible, the CBI found.

CAG had put the loss to exchequer at Rs 1.8 lakh crore and called it “the mother of all scams”.

  • The CAG had argued that the government had the authority to auction the coal blocks but chose not to and as a result allocatees received a “windfall gain”.

coal_block

Coal sector in India:

  • Despite having the world’s fourth largest coal reserves, India imported 235 million tonnes (mt) of coal last year, of which 135mt valued at Rs.171,000 crore could have been met from domestic reserves.
  • India’s state-run coal giant has been unable to meet growing demand despite abundant resources.
  • The South Asian nation depends on Coal India for more than 80 per cent of its domestic production and the miner has consistently fallen short of production targets in the last few years.
  • The government has been progressively liberalizing the coal sector over the last several months to attract new investments, and getting rid of this archaic end-use restriction was a key step.

Coal Nationalization and its impact:

Till 1971-73 the coal mining operation remained primarily in the private sector and the production had come up to a level of nearly 72 million tonnes per year only.

The entire coal industry in India was nationalised during 1972-73 and then on massive investments were made by the Government of India in this basic infrastructure sector.

  • Post liberalisation reforms in 1993, the government decided to allocate coal mines to various players for captive consumption (in captive mining coal is taken out by a company for its own use and it won’t be able to sell it in the market).
  • During the high growth years of 2000s the increasing demand of Coal could not be fulfilled by the state run Coal India Ltd., leading to higher demand-supply gap.

coal_block

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Classification of minerals in India.
  2. Major vs Minor minerals.
  3. Powers of centre vs states wet to management of minor minerals.
  4. Coal distribution in India.
  5. Imports vs Exports.

Mains Link:

What is commercial coal mining? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

World Polio Day:


October 24 is observed as World Polio Day.

Genesis:

World Polio Day was established by Rotary International on 24th October to celebrate the birth of Jonas Salk, who developed a vaccine against poliomyelitis.

What is Polio?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines polio or poliomyelitis as “a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children.”

Transmission: The virus is transmitted by person-to-person, spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Polio in India:

The WHO on February 24, 2012, removed India from the list of countries with active endemic wild polio virus transmission.

Two years later, in 2014, the South-East Asia Region of the WHO, of which India is a part, was certified as polio-free.

 Preventive efforts by India:

To prevent the virus from coming to India, the government has since March 2014 made the Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) mandatory for those travelling between India and polio-affected countries, such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Syria and Cameroon.

polio_round

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Which African country became the last African country to be declared free from wild polio?
  2. Countries where the Wild polio is still present.
  3. What is an attenuated (weakened) vaccine-virus?
  4. When a country is certified as free of wild polio?
  5. Composition and functions of the Africa Regional Certification Commission.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

Why US President poll matters to India?


Context:

US Presidential election.

Why it matters to India?

  • The relationship with the United States of America matters to India more than any other bilateral engagement: economically, strategically and socially.
  • American Presidents can often make a real difference to bilateral ties, including on trade, on immigration policies, and larger strategic issues.
  • The Indian diaspora in the US is one of the most successful expatriate communities, and while their political preferences may differ — they all favour a closer bonding between their janmabhoomi and their karmabhoomi.

What lies ahead? Will the outcome of the election impact India’s ties with China?

India’s first serious departure from its Non Aligned posture, the 1971 Indo-Soviet treaty, was a response to the continuing US tilt towards Pakistan and the beginnings of a Washington-Beijing entente.

Now, in 2020, it is the frightening prospect of a powerful, belligerent and hegemonic China that has helped New Delhi build its relationship with Washington.

Clearly, both Joe Biden and Donald Trump recognise the grave threat from China, but their response may be different:

  1. Trump 2.0 may be willing to even more aggressively counter China.
  2. Biden is likely to follow a policy of “Congagement”: containment with engagement.

Historical ties between India and various US Presidents:

Republican regimes are often associated with the surgical pursuit of American interests.

But, we have had Presidents, across the partisan divide, who have engaged India with passion and vigour.

The two Presidents often viewed as being the most affectionate towards India since World War II: John F Kennedy, in the 1960s, and George W Bush, in the 2000s.

  • Both reached out to India and engaged New Delhi with uncharacteristic zeal, in two very different times, but on both occasions the China threat acted as a catalyst to ensure that the bonding extended beyond just personal chemistry.

president_united_states

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Direct vs Indirect democracy.
  2. Parliamentary vs Presidential systems.
  3. What is a limited government?

Mains Link:

Will the outcome of the US election impact India’s ties with China? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA):


Context:

India and the U.S. will sign the last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA) during the upcoming 2+2 ministerial dialogue.

What is BECA?

This agreement would facilitate exchange of geospatial information between India and United States for both military and civilian use.

Significance and benefits for India from BECA:

BECA will allow India to use US expertise on geospatial intelligence and to enhance military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons like cruise, ballistic missiles and drones.

Foundational_agreement

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are foundational agreements?
  2. About BECA.
  3. Agreements signed by India and the US.
  4. What is 2+2 Dialogue?
  5. Countries having 2+2 dialogue mechanism with India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

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

The plasma therapy debate:


Context:

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been considering dropping the plasma therapy from the national guidelines as it found that convalescent plasma was ineffective in arresting Covid-19.

  • In China and Netherlands too, the plasma therapy yielded very little or no results.

What is plasma therapy?

Plasma is the liquid part of the blood. Convalescent plasma, extracted from the blood of patients recovering from an infection, is a source of antibodies against the infection.

The therapy involves using their plasma to help others recover.

  • For Covid-19, this has been one of the treatment options. The donor would have to be a documented case of Covid-19 and healthy for 28 days since the last symptoms.

Way forward:

Covid care is individualised care. Use of the right drugs in the right patient does work. Experts say use of convalescent therapy has saved some lives but concerns have been raised by the PLACID trial.

Therefore, the potential harms of the non-immune components of convalescent plasma should be rigorously investigated, only donor plasma with detectable titers of neutralizing antibodies should be given to trial participants, to ensure that the potential for benefit exists for all intervention arm patients.

plasma_therapy

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Differences between vaccination and plasma therapy?
  2. What is passive immunisation?
  3. What are antibodies and antigens?
  4. First Nobel prize in medicine?
  5. Differences between blood donation and plasma donation.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of convalescent plasma therapy.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims


Aenigmachanna gollum:

  • It belongs to an old family of fish, called dragon snakeheads.
  • It lives in underground aquifers.
  • The name has been inspired from the character Gollum, who always stays underground, in the movie ‘Lord of the Rings’.
  • It has been spotted recently in Kerala.
  • The scientists came to know about the fish through social media.
  • It is assumed that they originated in the Gondwanaland which later split into the continents of Asia and Africa.

plasma_therapy

Oaxaca Khadi:

  • It is the khadi being woven in Oaxaca, a place in Mexico, about which PM Modi mentioned in Mann ki Baat.
  • Khadi reached this place after a local resident became influenced by a film on Mahatma Gandhi.

plasma_therapy

India–Australia Circular Economy Hackathon (I-ACE):

Launched by Atal Innovation Mission in association with CSIRO.

  • I-ACE will focus on identification and development of innovative technology solutions by bright-minded students, startups and MSMEs of both nations.

DoPT announces reforms regarding Child Care Leave:

Male employees of the government are also now entitled to Child Care Leave.

But, it will be available only for those male employees who happen to be “single male parent”.

  • This may include male employees who are widowers or divorcees or even unmarried.

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