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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 19 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. National Population Register (NPR).

2. Defence Acquisition Procedure of 2020 (DAP 2020).

3. Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

4. ICMR against indiscriminate use of plasma therapy.

5. Will return to nuclear deal if U.S. sanctions are lifted: Iran.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. BRICS counter-terror strategy.

2. What is the Mahajan Commission report on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute?

3. India has dismissed as ‘fake’ a report about China’s use of ‘microwave weapons’. What are they?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Survey of forest dwellers in J&K on.

2. M.P. sets up ‘cow protection Cabinet’.

3. Guillain Barre Syndrome.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

National Population Register (NPR):


Context:

The office of the Registrar-General of India (RGI) has clarified that the schedule, or the questionnaire, of the National Population Register (NPR) is “being finalised” and the information about the expected date of the first phase of Census 2021 is “not available”.

Background:

A question was filed recently under the Right to Information Act seeking information on the expected date of the first phase of the Census — House listing & Housing census — and an update of the NPR that was earlier scheduled to begin on April 1.

  • The two were to be conducted simultaneously from April to September, but were postponed indefinitely on March 25 due to the pandemic.

What is National Population Register (NPR)?

It is a Register of usual residents of the country.

  • It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.

Objective: To create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country.

The NPR was first collected in 2010 and then updated in 2015.

Who is a usual resident?

A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.

supporting_doc

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Constitutional provisions related to Citizenship.
  2. Components of NPR data.
  3. Who is an usual resident?
  4. Who prepares NPR?
  5. How can a person acquire Indian citizenship?
  6. Can an Indian citizen hold dual citizenship?

Mains Link:

Why are states opposed to the collection of data under NPR. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Defence Acquisition Procedure of 2020 (DAP 2020):


Context:

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking at leasing trainer aircraft and light utility helicopters (LUH) for a short duration till the indigenous platforms under development are inducted into service.

  • The recently released Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP), 2020 allows leasing of military platforms.

What else is there in DAP 2020?

It was unveiled in September this year.

  • The new policy superseded the Defence Procurement Procedure of 2016 from October 1.

Highlights of the new policy:

  1. Reservations for Indigenous firms:

The policy reserves several procurement categories for indigenous firms.

DAP 2020 defines an “Indian vendor” as a company that is owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens, with foreign direct investment (FDI) not more than 49 per cent.

  1. New Buy (Global–Manufacture in India) category:

This stipulates indigenisation of at least 50 per cent of the overall contract value of a foreign purchase bought with the intention of subsequently building it in India with technology transfer.

  1. Greater indigenous content:

It promotes greater indigenous content in arms and equipment of the military procures, including equipment manufactured in India under licence. In most acquisition categories, DAP-2020 stipulates 10 per cent higher indigenisation than DPP 2016.

  1. Import embargo list:

The “import embargo list” of 101 items that the government promulgated last month has been specifically incorporated into DAP 2020. (An embargo is a government order that restricts commerce with a specified country or the exchange of specific goods.)

  1. Offset liability:

The government has decided not to have an offset clause in procurement of defence equipment if the deal is done through inter-government agreement (IGA), government-to-government or an ab initio single vendor.

  • The offset clause requires a foreign vendor to invest a part of the contract value in India.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is offset liability?
  2. What is Base Control Price?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the policy.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS):


Context:

LibTech India had recently conducted a study on MGNREGS. The report was released recently.

Key findings:

  • For most rural workers dependent on the MGNREGS, their labour does not end at the work site. Many of them are forced to make multiple trips to the bank, adding travel costs and income losses, and face repeated rejections of payment, biometric errors and wrong information, just to get their hands on their wages.
  • Even in regular times, these last mile challenges make it hard for workers to access their own wages in a timely manner. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation is exacerbated as transport becomes harder, and there is no question of physical distancing at a rural bank.

About MGNREGA:

The scheme was introduced as a social measure that guarantees “the right to work”.

  • The key tenet of this social measure and labour law is that the local government will have to legally provide at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India to enhance their quality of life.

Key objectives:

  1. Generation of paid rural employment of not less than 100 days for each worker who volunteers for unskilled labour.
  2. Proactively ensuring social inclusion by strengthening livelihood base of rural poor.
  3. Creation of durable assets in rural areas such as wells, ponds, roads and canals.
  4. Reduce urban migration from rural areas.
  5. Create rural infrastructure by using untapped rural labour.

The following are the eligibility criteria for receiving the benefits under MGNREGA scheme:

  1. Must be Citizen of India to seek MGNREGA benefits.
  2. Job seeker has completed 18 years of age at the time of application.
  3. The applicant must be part of a local household (i.e. application must be made with local Gram Panchayat).
  4. Applicant must volunteer for unskilled labour.

Key facts related to the scheme:

  1. The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments.
  2. Individual beneficiary-oriented works can be taken up on the cards of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, small or marginal farmers or beneficiaries of land reforms or beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.
  3. Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
  4. Right to get unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
  5. Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory, which lends to accountability and transparency.
  6. The Gram Sabha is the principal forum for wage seekers to raise their voices and make demands.
  7. It is the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat which approves the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.

Roles of Gram Panchayat:

  • Receiving applications for registration
  • Verifying registration applications
  • Registering households
  • Issuing Job Cards (JCs)
  • Receiving applications for work
  • Issuing dated receipts for these applications for work
  • Allotting work within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought in the case of an advance application.
  • Identification and planning of works, developing shelf of projects including determination of the order of their priority.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Under MGNREGA, what are the roles of Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, States, State Food Commission, Centre?
  2. What are jobs cards, who issues them?
  3. Who sets up SEGF?
  4. What is Wage employement?
  5. Who conducts social audit?

Mains Link:

Discuss the key features and significance of MGNREGA.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

ICMR against indiscriminate use of plasma therapy:


Context:

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has warned against indiscriminate use of convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) for treating COVID-19.

Why?

The ICMR has found that the therapy “did not lead to a reduction in progression to severe COVID or all-cause mortality in the group that received convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) as compared to the group that did not receive CPT”.

What Next?

  • The CPT could be used with specific criteria, including that potential donors could give plasma after 14 days of symptom resolution (testing negative is not necessary).
  • A potential recipient should be in the early stage of COVID-19 (three to seven days from the onset of symptoms, but not later than 10 days) and should have no IgG antibody against COVID-19 by appropriate test.

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.

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: the Hindu.

 

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

Will return to nuclear deal if U.S. sanctions are lifted: Iran:


Context:

Iran has said that it will “automatically” return to its nuclear commitments if U.S. President-elect Joe Biden lifts sanctions imposed over the past two years.

Background:

Decades old U.S.-Iranian tensions escalated after U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and then reinforced crippling sanctions.

  • Iran has since May 2019 gradually suspended most of its key obligations under the agreement.

What’s the way ahead for Iran?

While Mr. Trump has sought to maximise pressure on Iran and isolate it globally, Mr. Biden has proposed to offer the Islamic republic a “credible path back to diplomacy”.

Besides, America is also obligated to implement Resolution 2231 as a member of the United Nations and its Security Council.

  • On 20 July 2015, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2231 (2015) endorsing the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • Resolution 2231 provides for the termination of the provisions of previous Security Council resolutions on the Iranian nuclear issue and establishes specific restrictions that apply to all States without exception.

What was the iran nuclear deal?

Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany.

  • Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.
  • The JCPOA established the Joint Commission, with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement.

Why has US pulled out of the deal now?

Trump and opponents to the deal said it is flawed because it gives Iran access to billions of dollars but does not address Iran’s support for groups the U.S. considers terrorists, like Hamas and Hezbollah. They noted it also doesn’t curb Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and that the deal phases out by 2030. They said Iran has lied about its nuclear program in the past.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is JCPOA? Signatories.
  2. Iran and its neighbours.
  3. What is IAEA? Relation with the UN.
  4. Members of IAEA.
  5. Programs of IAEA.
  6. Board of Governors- composition, voting and functions.
  7. What is Uranium Enrichment?

Mains Link:

Write a note on JCPOA.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

BRICS counter-terror strategy:


Context:

BRICS has unveiled a counter-terrorism strategy to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the member countries for effectively combating the threat.

  • The new strategy was adopted at the bloc’s annual summit which was held in the virtual format recently.

Overview of the Strategy:

  1. The aim of the strategy is to improve the practical cooperation among security and law-enforcement authorities of the member nations to prevent and combat terrorism, including by sharing timely and accurate information.
  2. The focus would be to “suppress” the facilitation of terrorist groups, entities and associated persons by not making available financial and material resources to them.
  3. The BRICS also resolved to counter “extremist narratives” conducive to terrorism and vowed to take steps to ensure that the Internet and social media platforms are not used for recruitment and radicalisation by terror groups.
  4. The BRICS high representatives for security shall be entrusted with leading the review of the implementation of this strategy, and the BRICS counter-terrorism working group (CTWG) shall be entrusted with its implementation.

Significance:

These efforts will help prevent “further geographical expansion of terrorism” and address the threats posed by terrorists returning from conflict zones to countries of departure or travelling to third countries.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

What is the Mahajan Commission report on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute?


Context:

Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar’s recent controversial statement over the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute.

Genesis of the dispute:

The erstwhile Bombay Presidency, a multilingual province, included the present-day Karnataka districts of Vijayapura, Belagavi, Dharwad and Uttara-Kannada.

  • In 1948, the Belgaum municipality requested that the district, having a predominantly Marathi-speaking population, be incorporated into the proposed Maharashtra state.
  • However, the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, which divided states on linguistic and administrative lines, made Belgaum and 10 talukas of Bombay State a part of the then Mysore State (which was renamed Karnataka in 1973).

The Mahajan Commission report:

While demarcating borders, the Reorganisation of States Commission sought to include talukas with a Kannada-speaking population of more than 50 per cent in Mysore.

  • Opponents of the region’s inclusion in Mysore argued, and continue to argue, that Marathi-speakers outnumbered Kannadigas who lived there in 1956.
  • In September 1957, the Bombay government echoed their demand and lodged a protest with the Centre, leading to the formation of the Mahajan Commission under former Chief Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan in October 1966.

Recommendations of the Commission:

The Commission in its report in August 1967 recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra (which formed in 1960) and that Belgaum and 247 villages remain with Karnataka.

Later developments:

  • Maharashtra rejected the report, calling it biased and illogical, and demanded another review.
  • Karnataka welcomed the report, and has ever since continued to press for implementation, although this has not been formally done by the Centre.
  • Maharashtra continues to claim over 814 villages along the border, as well as Belgaum city, which are currently part of Karnataka.
  • Successive governments in Maharashtra have demanded their inclusion within the state– a claim that Karnataka contests.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Mahajan Commission.
  2. About the States Reorganisation Act of 1956.

Mains Link:

Discuss the key features of the States Reorganisation Act of 1956.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

India has dismissed as ‘fake’ a report about China’s use of ‘microwave weapons’. What are they?


Context:

The Indian Army has dismissed reports that said that China had used microwave weapons in eastern Ladakh as “fake” and “baseless” with a senior officer terming it part of the psychological operation from across the border.

Background:

  • Beijing and New Delhi have been engaged in a stand-off in Ladakh since May over the Line of Actual Control.

What are “microwave weapons”?

“Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.

Which countries have these “microwave weapons”?

A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems.

  • China had first put on display its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014.
  • The United States has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the “Active Denial System”.

Have “microwave weapons” been used in the past?

The US apparently deployed such a weapon in Afghanistan, but withdrew it without ever using it against human targets.

InstaLinks:

Prelims and Mains Links:

What are “microwave weapons”? What are the concerns associated with their usage? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Survey of forest dwellers in J&K on:

The Jammu and Kashmir administration is in in the process of implementing the Forest Rights Act of 2006 “to grant the rights to forest dwellers.

Background: The Forest Rights Act of 2006 provides for granting of rights to forest dwellers across the country. It was not applicable or implemented in J&K till 31st October, 2019.

M.P. sets up ‘cow protection Cabinet’:

Madhya Pradesh government has decided to set up a ‘Gau Cabinet’ for the protection and promotion of cattle.

  • The Animal Husbandry, Forest, Panchayat and Rural Development, Revenue, Home and Farmers’ Welfare Departments would be part of the Cabinet.

Guillain Barre Syndrome:

Context: In a rare complication, some patients infected with Covid-19 have been found suffering from Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS). In India, such cases have been reported since August.

What is Guillain Barre Syndrome?

  • It is a very rare autoimmune disorder.
  • The immune system, in an attempt to kill the coronavirus, accidentally starts attacking the peripheral nervous system.
  • The peripheral nervous system is a network of nerves that lead from the brain and spinal cord to different parts of the body. Attacking them can affect limb functions.
  • GBS is caused by bacteria or viral infection.
  • The syndrome’s first symptoms are a tingling or itching sensation in the skin, followed by muscle weakness, pain and numbness.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow

  1. Param Siddhi Supercomputer
  2. Global prevention coalition (GPC) for HIV prevention

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