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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 2 December 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. Attorney General.

2. What is the emergency use authorisation drug makers are seeking for the Covid-19 vaccine?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. How the 1.5-times formula for crops MSP is calculated?

2. Why are the framers protesting and how the government should deal with protesting farmers?

3. In tree rings, warning of Brahmaputra floods.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. What is Chardham Project?

2. What is a PMI?

3. SCO Online International Exhibition.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

Attorney General:


Context:

Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal has given his consent to a law student to initiate contempt of court proceedings against artist Rachita Taneja for her tweets and cartoons.

  • Venugopal said the tweets and the cartoons that accompanied them were intended “to denigrate the Supreme Court and lower its authority in the eyes of the public”.

What is the case for prior approval in Contempt Cases?

The prior consent in writing of the Attorney General is required for the Supreme Court to initiate criminal contempt action in a case a/c to the Contempt of Court Act, 1971.

  • AGI consent is a form of check on the much-debated suo-motu power of criminal contempt.

Attorney General- Facts:

The Attorney General for India is the central government’s chief legal advisor, and its primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India.

He is a part of the Union Executive.

Appointment and eligibility:

He is appointed by the President of India under Article 76(1) of the Constitution and holds office during the pleasure of the President.

  • He must be a person qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court.
  • He should be an Indian Citizen.
  • He must have either completed 5 years in High Court of any Indian state as a judge or 10 years in High Court as an advocate.
  • He may be an eminent jurist too, in the eye of the President.

Powers and Functions:

  1. The Attorney General is necessary for giving advice to the Government of India in legal matters referred to him. He also performs other legal duties assigned to him by the President.
  2. The Attorney General has the right of audience in all Courts in India as well as the right to participate in the proceedings of the Parliament, though not to vote.
  3. The Attorney General appears on behalf of Government of India in all cases (including suits, appeals and other proceedings) in the Supreme Court in which Government of India is concerned.
  4. He also represents the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
  5. The Attorney General can accept briefs but cannot appear against the Government.
  6. He cannot defend an accused in the criminal proceedings and accept the directorship of a company without the permission of the Government.
  7. The Attorney General is assisted by two Solicitor General and four Additional Solicitor Generals.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Article 143 of the Constitution.
  2. Who appoints AG and SGs?
  3. The right of AG to participate in the proceedings of the Parliament?
  4. Who can be appointed as AG?
  5. Article 76(1) of the Constitution.
  6. The Union Executive consists of?

Mains Link:

Discuss the roles and functions of AG.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

What is the emergency use authorisation drug makers are seeking for the Covid-19 vaccine?


Context:

  • US drugmaker Moderna is applying for emergency use authorisation for its Covid-19 vaccine.
  • A few days earlier, Pfizer applied for emergency use authorisation for the vaccine it has developed in collaboration with BioNTech.
  • In India, Serum Institute of India, which is trialling a version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, has said it expects to seek emergency use authorisation within the next two weeks.

 Regular procedure for drug approval:

Vaccines and medicines, and even diagnostic tests and medical devices, require the approval of a regulatory authority before they can be administered.

  • In India, the regulatory authority is the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
  • For vaccines and medicines, approval is granted after an assessment of their safety and effectiveness, based on data from trials.

When can emergency use authorisation (EUA) be granted?

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants EUA only after it has been determined that the “known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine” (or medicine).

  • This means that a EUA application can be considered only after sufficient efficacy data from phase 3 trials had been generated.
  • A EUA cannot be granted solely on the basis of data from phase 1 or phase 2 trials.

What is the process of getting an emergency use authorisation in India?

  • Experts and activists say India’s drug regulations do not have provisions for a EUA, and the process for receiving one is not clearly defined or consistent.
  • Despite this, CDSCO has been granting emergency or restricted emergency approvals to Covid-19 drugs during this pandemic for remdesivir and favipiravir.

Is there a risk in using a product that has only been granted an EUA?

According to the US FDA, the public has to be informed that a product has only been granted an EUA and not full approval.

  • In the case of a Covid-19 vaccine, for example, people have to be informed about the known and potential benefits and risks, and the “extent to which such benefits or risks are unknown”, and that they have a right to refuse the vaccine.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Why are the framers protesting and how the government should deal with protesting farmers?


Context:

Farmer protests against the three new agriculture-related laws have gathered momentum.

The controversy pertains to:

  1. ‘Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020′
  2. Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020′ and
  3. Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.

What’s the issue?

A set of three laws passed in September aims to deregulate India’s enormous agriculture sector.

  • The government says these laws will “liberate” farmers from the tyranny of middlemen.
  • But many farmers fear that they stand to lose more than they could gain from the new regulations and that the main beneficiaries will be agricultural corporations with gargantuan financial firepower.

So what do India’s new farm laws do?

  1. They make it easier for farmers to bypass government-regulated markets (known locally as mandis) and sell produce directly to private buyers.
  2. They can now enter into contracts with private companies, a practice known in India as contract farming, and sell across state borders.
  3. The new regulations also allow traders to stockpile food. This is a shift away from prohibitions against hoarding, which could make it easier for traders to take advantage of rising prices, such as during a pandemic. Such practices were criminal offences under the old rules.

Concerns of farmers:

More than 86 percent of India’s cultivated farmland is controlled by smallholder farmers who own less than two hectares (five acres) of land each.

  • The new rules remove many of their safeguards. Small farmers fear that they just do not have enough bargaining power to get the kinds of prices they need for a decent standard of living when they negotiate to sell their produce to larger companies.
  • The new laws also do not make written contracts mandatory. So in the case of any violation of their terms, it can be very hard for a farmer to prove that he or she has been aggrieved, giving them little recourse.
  • The new rules do not guarantee any minimum price for any product, and farmers worry that the existing MSP will be abolished at some point.

How the government should deal with protesting farmers?

There is a gross communication failure on the part of the central government to explain to farmers what these laws are, and how they are intended to benefit them.

  1. The apprehension about MSP and procurement going away comes from Acts being linked to some previous policy documents like the Shanta Kumar Committee report and the CACP reports suggesting reduced procurement and an end to open-ended procurement from states like Punjab to cut down costs of FCI.
  2. It is feared that FCI itself may start procuring directly from the new trade area to cut down buying costs like market fees and arhtiya commission.
  3. It is more about the changes in the “social contract” between the state’s farmers and the Union government that is the root cause of this apprehension.

The government should address these concerns first.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are APMCs? How they are regulated?
  2. Overview of Model Contract farming act.
  3. The price range fluctuation allowed in the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
  4. Stock limit regulation under the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will not be applicable for?
  5. Other key Provisions of the bills.

Mains Link:

Do you think the reforms proposed for agricultural sector under the realm of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan ensure better price realization for farmers? Elucidate.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

How the 1.5-times formula for crops MSP is calculated?


Context:

The major demand of the protesting farmers has been that the government guarantee in writing the MSP system, which assures them of a fixed price for their crops, 1.5 times of the cost of production.

What is MSP?

The MSP (minimum support price) assures the farmers of a fixed price for their crops.

How was the MSP fixed earlier?

The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) in the Ministry of Agriculture would recommend MSPs for 23 crops.

  • The CACP considered various factors while recommending the MSP for a commodity, including cost of cultivation.
  • It also took into account the supply and demand situation for the commodity; market price trends (domestic and global) and parity vis-à-vis other crops; and implications for consumers (inflation), environment (soil and water use) and terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture sectors.

What changed with the Union Budget for 2018-19?

The Budget for 2018-19 announced that MSPs would henceforth be fixed at 1½ times of the production costs for crops as a “pre-determined principle”.

  • Simply put, the CACP’s job now was only to estimate production costs for a season and recommend the MSPs by applying the 1.5-times formula.

Which production costs were taken in fixing the MSPs?

The CACP’s ‘Price Policy for Kharif Crops: The Marketing Season 2018-19’ report stated that its MSP recommendation was based on 1.5 times the A2+FL costs.

  • ‘A2’ covers all paid-out costs directly incurred by the farmer in cash and kind on seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, hired labour, leased-in land, fuel, irrigation, etc.
  • ‘A2+FL’ includes A2 plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour. ‘

It does not take into account C2 costs.‘C2’ is a more comprehensive cost that factors in rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets, on top of A2+FL.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Composition of CCEA.
  2. What is CACP?
  3. How many crops are covered under MSP scheme?
  4. Who announces MSP?
  5. Difference between Kharif and Rabi crops.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

In tree rings, warning of Brahmaputra floods:


Context:

Existing projections of flooding of the Brahmaputra are based on observations of past rainfall patterns, but they rely on discharge- gauge records that date back only to the 1950s.

  • So, now the scientists have come up with an innovative idea in which they have tried to analyse floods by relating them to tree rings.

What does the new study suggest?

The new study is based on examinations of tree rings, which provided a picture of rainfall patterns going back seven centuries.

  • The rings showed that the post 1950s period was actually one of the driest since the 1300s- there have been much wetter periods in the past.
  • The tree-rings suggest that the recent decades (particularly from the 1950s to 1980s) were unusually dry. Therefore, in general, past conditions were wetter.
  • It also suggests that the future will likely be wetter due to our emissions of carbon-dioxide.

How tree rings helped?

  • As trees grow they incorporate information about the environmental conditions they are living in in their annual growth rings.
  • Tree rings grow wider in years when soil moisture is high. Trees in the region grow more and put on wide rings in wet monsoon years.
  • Conversely, in dry monsoon years (or droughts) they grow less and put on narrow rings.

Since some of these trees can live for a long time, by taking a small, pencil-thin tree-core from these trees and measuring their rings under a microscope scientists could learn more about climate conditions for the past several centuries.

Significance:

The findings are obviously relevant to Assam and Northeast India too. With this, flood risks could be compounded by planned projects in the region.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


What is Chardham Project?

  • The project comprises improvement as well as the development of 889 km length of national highways.
  • The project will connect Badrinath Dham, Kedarnath Dham, Gangotri, Yamunotri, and part of the route leading to Kailash Mansarovar yatra.

Context:

Environmentalists have alleged that the contractors deputed by the government to make roads as part of the Chardham project are violating the Supreme Court orders on the appropriate road width to be followed in mountainous terrain.

What is a PMI?

PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity — both in the manufacturing and services sectors.

  • It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before.
  • It is calculated separately for the manufacturing and services sectors and then a composite index is constructed.
  • A figure above 50 denotes expansion in business activity. Anything below 50 denotes contraction.
  • Higher the difference from this mid-point greater the expansion or contraction.

Green Charcoal Hackathon:

  • Launched by NVVN (NTPC VidyutVyapar Nigam), a wholly-owned subsidiary company of NTPC Ltd.
  • It is a technology challenge with an aim to fast-track technology developments conducted by NVVN in partnership with EESL (Energy Efficiency Services Ltd).

The purpose of the event is to leverage the innovative Indian mind to bridge the technology gap, with the prime objective to:

  1. Clean the air by eliminating farm fire, producing renewable energy out of the agro residue.
  2. Promote local entrepreneurship.
  3. Increase the income of the farmers.

The ultimate goals is to reduce the carbon footprint of the nation.

Aadi Mahotsav:

The virtual edition of the Aadi Mahotsav – Madhya Pradesh launched.

  • Aadi Mahotsav is a national tribal festival and a joint initiative of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India & Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED).
  • The festival showcases traditional art and handicrafts and cultural heritage of the country.

SCO Online International Exhibition:

SCO Online Exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage was launched at the 19th Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of Government (SCO CHG), held in New Delhi recently.

  • It is the first ever of its kind. It was developed and curated by the National Museum, New Delhi, in active collaboration with SCO member countries.
  • Participants: Museums from India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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