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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 17 November 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. Winter session of Parliament unlikely amid rising COVID cases.

2. Judge recuses himself from Jagan case.

3. A day after RCEP, Jaishankar slams trade pacts, globalisation.

4. United Nations Peace Keeping (UNPK) missions.

5. Trump is not conceding defeat; what’s next?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Kerala Fibre Optic Network Project.

2. What is the Ariel Space Mission adopted by the European Space Agency?

3. The US and climate after Donald Trump.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. `Statue of Peace` unveiled in Rajasthan.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Winter session of Parliament unlikely amid rising COVID cases:


Context:

The winter session of Parliament that usually commences by last week of November is unlikely to be held due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi.

Background:

Article 85 says the President can summon a session of Parliament “at such time and place as he thinks fit”. Thus, a session can be called on the recommendation of the government, which decides its date and duration.

Have there been any such instances in the past?

As per parliamentary records, there have only been three instances in the past of the winter session not being held — in 1975, 1979 and 1984.

What the Constitution says?

Article 85 requires that there should not be a gap of more than six months between two sessions of Parliament.

  • Therefore, with the monsoon session of Parliament held in September, the government has no constitutional compulsion to hold a winter session.

Besides, the Constitution does not specify when or for how many days Parliament should meet.

Why is a Parliamentary Session important?

  • Law-making is dependent on when Parliament meets.
  • Also, a thorough scrutiny of the government’s functioning and deliberation on national issues can only take place when the two Houses are in session.
  • Predictability in the functioning of Parliament is key to a well-functioning democracy.

How does it help to have Parliament in session throughout the year?

There are three main advantages.

  1. It enables detailed planning of legislative and policy work all year round.
  2. It negates the need for enacting Ordinances.
  3. It enables accountability of government functioning by Parliament throughout the year.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who can Summon the Parliament?
  2. Article 85.
  3. Sessions of the Parliament.
  4. For how many days in a year the Parliament has to meet?
  5. Who chairs the joint sitting of the Parliament?

Mains Link:

Why is a Parliamentary Session important? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Judge recuses himself from Jagan case:


Context:

Justice U.U. Lalit of the Supreme Court has recused himself from hearing separate writ petitions that sought action against the Andhra Pradesh government and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy for levelling “false, vague and political allegations” against Supreme Court judge N.V. Ramana and other High Court judges.

Why?

The judge withdrew from the case because he had, as a lawyer, represented some of the parties involved in the case.

What is a recusal?

Judicial disqualification, referred to as recusal, is the act of abstaining from participation in an official action such as a legal proceeding due to a conflict of interest of the presiding court official or administrative officer.

General Grounds for Recusal:

Motions to recuse or disqualify judges and other adjudicators have been made for all sorts of reasons.

  • Most commonly such motions are predicated upon a claim that the judge is biased in favour of one party, or against another, or that a reasonable objective observer would think he might be.

But such motions are also made on many other grounds, including the challenged judge’s:

  1. Interest in the subject matter, or relationship with someone who is interested in it.
  2. Background or experience, such as the judge’s prior work as a lawyer.
  3. Personal knowledge about the parties or the facts of the case.
  4. Ex parte communications with lawyers or non-lawyers.
  5. Rulings, comments or conduct.

Are there any laws in this regard?

There are no definite rules on recusals by Judges.

  • Justice J. Chelameswar in his opinion in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015) held that “Where a judge has a pecuniary interest, no further inquiry as to whether there was a ‘real danger’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ of bias is required to be undertaken”.
  • Besides, In taking oath of office, judges, both of the Supreme Court and of the high courts, promise to perform their duties, to deliver justice, “without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”.

CS_case

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Grounds for Judicial Disqualification.
  2. Who administers oath to Supreme Court and High Court judges?
  3. Articles 127 and 128 of the Indian Constitution are related to?

Mains Link:

Recusal has become a selective call of morality for Supreme Court judges. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

A day after RCEP, Jaishankar slams trade pacts, globalisation:


Context:

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently criticised globalisation and trade pacts.

He said:

  • Trade pacts and globalisation have allowed other countries ‘unfair’ trade and manufacturing advantages “in the name of openness”.
  • The effect of past trade agreements has been to deindustrialise some sectors.
  • The consequences of future ones would lock us into global commitments, many of them not to our advantage.

Implications:

The minister’s comments indicate that India is not considering an offer from RCEP nations to rejoin the group.

What are the economic implications of India opting out of RCEP?

  1. There are concerns that India’s decision would impact its bilateral trade ties with RCEP member nations, as they may be more inclined to focus on bolstering economic ties within the bloc.
  2. The move could potentially leave India with less scope to tap the large market that RCEP presents —the size of the deal is mammoth, as the countries involved account for over 2 billion of the world’s population.
  3. Given attempts by countries like Japan to get India back into the deal, there are also worries that India’s decision could impact the Australia-India-Japan network in the Indo-Pacific.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is RCEP?
  2. ASEAN Nations.
  3. What is Trans Pacific Partnership?

Mains Link:

Trade pacts and globalisation have allowed other countries ‘unfair’ trade and manufacturing advantages “in the name of openness”. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

United Nations Peace Keeping (UNPK) missions:


Context:

With China significantly scaling up its troop contribution for United Nations Peace Keeping (UNPK) missions, India and the U.S. are looking to undertake training of military personnel for the missions from Southeast Asian countries on the lines of the ongoing initiative for African countries.

India and the UN Peacekeeping:

  • India has consistently been among the top troop contributing nations to the UN and is the fifth largest with 5,424 personnel in eight countries.
  • India’s contribution to the regular budget is 0.83% and 0.16% of the peacekeeping budget.
  • India has so far participated in 51 of the 71 missions and contributed over 2 lakh personnel.
  • It has troop deployment in Lebanon, Golan Heights, Congo and South Sudan in addition to staff officers in other missions.
  • India has also set up two field hospitals in South Sudan and one in Congo.
  • Since 2018, India has co-opted a contingent from Kazakhstan at the mission in Lebanon.

The US and UN Peacekeeping:

  • The U.S. on the other hand has never contributed ground troops but contributes 27% of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.
  • In 2016, India and the U.S. began a joint annual initiative “UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners” to build and enhance the capacity of African troop and police-contributing countries to participate in the U.N. and regional peacekeeping operations.
  • While this is going on, the U.S. is keen on a similar initiative for South East Asian nations like Vietnam and others.

China and the UN Peacekeeping:

  • It currently has over 2,500 troops in various UN missions and has committed another 8,000 troops as standby. Once implemented, it will make China the largest provider of troops to the UNPK.
  • China contributes 12% of the UN regular general budget and 15% of the peacekeeping budget.

What is peacekeeping? It’s significance?

  • United Nations Peacekeeping is a joint effort between the Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Operational Support.
  • Every peacekeeping mission is authorized by the Security Council.
  • The financial resources of UN Peacekeeping operations are the collective responsibility of UN Member States.
  • According to the UN Charter, every Member State is legally obligated to pay their respective share for peacekeeping.

Composition:

  • UN peacekeepers (often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets) can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.
  • Peacekeeping forces are contributed by member states on a voluntary basis.
  • Civilian staff of peace operations are international civil servants, recruited and deployed by the UN Secretariat.

UN Peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles:

  1. Consent of the parties.
  2. Impartiality.
  3. Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who funds peacekeeping operations?
  2. Role of UNSC.
  3. Composition of Peacekeepers?
  4. Why peacekeepers are called as Blue Helmets?
  5. Guiding principles of UN peacekeeping.
  6. Ongoing peacekeeping missions.

Mains Link:

Write a note on UN Peacekeeping and its significance.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

Trump is not conceding defeat; what’s next?


Context:

U.S. President Donald Trump has not conceded defeat to his Democratic rival Joe Biden in the November 3 presidential election.

  • Trump and his supporters have alleged voter fraud and mounted legal challenges in several swing States.

What would happen if Donald Trump refused to leave the White House?

  • Trump is trying to mount legal pressure. He has filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona, asking courts to prevent State officials from certifying the vote. But once the legal disputes have been settled and if he is shown to have lost then he really has no legal right to remain there.
  • But, if the president still refuses to leave the office, the Secret Service and the FBI will be on the ground. The FBI and Secret Service control the White House.

Has a president ever refused to leave the White House before?

No. Never in US history has a president ever refused to leave the White House, or peacefully transfer over power. Of the 44 Presidents who served before Trump, 35 willingly ceded power to their successor after either their two-term limit ended, they lost an election, or they chose not to run again.

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.

Kerala Fibre Optic Network Project:


Context:

Kerala aims to provide free Internet for poor families, public offices by December.

About the Project:

The project seeks to fulfil the government’s aim of making internet access a ‘citizen’s right’.

  • Aims to provide free high-speed internet to over 20 lakh below poverty line (BPL) households.
  • It is a collaborative initiative of the state’s power utility Kerala State Electricity Board and Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd. Internet service providers and cable television operators can also join the optic-fibre network project to provide their services.
  • As many as 30,000 government offices and schools would be linked through the high-speed network, said the state government.

Significance:

The project, when launched, will be another milestone for the state that has achieved several human development indicators (HDI) that match those of first-world countries, especially in connection with health.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About KFON Project.
  2. About BharatNet.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

What is the Ariel Space Mission adopted by the European Space Agency?


Context:

The European Space Agency (ESA) has formally adopted Ariel.

What is Ariel?

Ariel (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey) will be launched in 2029.

  • It will perform a large-scale survey of over a thousand exoplanets over a period of four years.
  • The explorer that will study the nature, formation and evolution of exoplanets.

Significance:

Ariel is the first mission of its kind dedicated to measuring the chemical composition and thermal structures of hundreds of exoplanets.

It will also help to answer one of the key questions of ESA’s Cosmic Vision Plan, which is, “What are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?”.

How exoplanets are found?

As per NASA, only a handful of exoplanets have been found using telescopes and the rest have been detected using indirect methods. These include:

  • Tracking the dimming of a star that happens when a planet passes in front of it. NASA’s Kepler Space telescope uses this method to spot thousands of planets.
  • Gravitational lensing and the “wobbling method”, which is based on the idea that an orbiting planet will cause its parent star to orbit slightly off-centre.

Why study exoplanets?

The search for exoplanets is driven by the possibility that life may exist beyond Earth and even if there is no evidence for this, scientists believe that their hunt for an answer will reveal details about where humans came from and where we’re headed.

Key Points:

  • As of now the existence of more than 4,000 exoplanets is considered confirmed, while there are thousands of other candidate exoplanets that need further observations to say for certain if they are exoplanets.
  • Proxima Centauri b is the closest exoplanet to Earth and is four light-years away and inhabits the “habitable zone” of its star, which means that it could possibly have liquid water on its surface.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Key features and significance of the mission.
  2. What are exoplanets?
  3. What is habitable zone? How is it identified?
  4. About Proxima Centauri b.
  5. Overview of Gravitational lensing and the “wobbling method”.
  6. About NASA’s Kepler Space telescope.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation and Pollution related issues.

The US and climate after Donald Trump:


Context:

President-elect Joe Biden has publicly stated that the United States would seek to rejoin the Paris Agreement as soon as he assumes office, possibly the same day.

What is the Paris Agreement?

The 2015 Paris Agreement seeks to keep the rise in global temperatures to within 2°C compared to pre-industrial times, a target that cannot possibly be achieved without the active participation of the United States.

The US still is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, after China.

What was to be the US role?

  • The Paris Agreement target meant that the US would have had to reduce its emissions by at least 1.5 billion tonnes in the next one decade, and hopefully more after that.
  • But what is even more crucial is the ability of the US to mobilise climate funds, particularly from private corporations, which is key to achieving the 2°C target.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars is required every year to enable the transitions towards a low-carbon economy.
  • The absence of the US as a key facilitator from this process has been a huge setback.

What was the impact of the Trump administration’s moves on issues relating to climate?

  • On his campaign trail, Trump had described climate change as a “hoax”, and had promised to walk out of the landmark Paris Agreement that had been finalised just a year earlier. Trump delivered on his promise within six months of his presidency.
  • Many of his other decisions during the presidency, on coal and clean energy, were also seen to be deeply detrimental to the climate objectives.
  • To promote domestic jobs and spur economic activity were seen as directly promoting the fossil-fuel industry, which would result in an increase in emissions.
  • These included reversing a 2015 order mandating the US federal government agencies to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in ten years, compared to 2008 levels.

What happens now?

With Biden assuming the Presidency, the US is expected to go through another round of policy reversals on climate change. A return to Paris Agreement is almost certain.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


`Statue of Peace` unveiled in Rajasthan:

PM Narendra Modi unveils `Statue of Peace` in Rajasthan.

  • To mark the 151st Birth Anniversary celebrations of Jainacharya Shree Vijay Vallabh Surishwer Ji Maharaj.
  • The 151-inch tall statue has been made from Ashtadhatu ie 8 metals, with copper being the major constituent.

About Jainacharya Shree Vijay Vallabh Surishwer Ji Maharaj:

  • The saint, who lived during 1870-1954, led an austere life, working selflessly and dedicatedly to spread the message of Lord Mahavira.
  • He also worked relentlessly for the welfare of the masses, spread of education and eradication of social evils, wrote inspiring literature (poetry, essays, devotional hymns and stavans) and gave active support to the freedom movement and the cause of the swadeshi.

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