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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 9 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 1:

1. How Mount Everest got 3 feet higher, endorsed by both Nepal and China.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. We won’t order any step that will hobble economy: SC.

2. National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

3. Eluru mystery disease: AIIMS finds traces of lead in blood samples of affected.

4. Pakistan, China violate religious freedom: U.S.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Supply of life-saving medicines affected by ‘Make in India’ policy.

2. How Maharashtra Police will use software to crack down on child porn.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Sri Lanka to get $300 mn Chinese tyre factory.

2. What is the Northern Ireland protocol and why is it needed?

3. Partners in Population and Development (PPD).

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features.

How Mount Everest got 3 feet higher, endorsed by both Nepal and China?


Context:

The Foreign Ministers of Nepal and China jointly certified the elevation of Mount Everest at 8,848.86 metres above sea level 86 cm higher than what was recognised since 1954.

 About Mount Everest:

  • Mount Everest rises from the border between Nepal and China.
  • Everest is also known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Mount Qomolangma in China.

Background:

No other mountain has perhaps been the subject of as much debate. Over the years, there have been debates on issues like whether it should be “rock height”, or whether the snow cladding it, too, should be accounted for.

How and when was the earlier measurement of 8,848 m done?

  • Earlier measurement was determined by the Survey of India in 1954, using instruments like theodolites and chains, with GPS still decades away. The elevation of 8,848 m came to be accepted in all references worldwide except by China.
  • In 1999, a US team put the elevation at 29,035 feet (nearly 8,850 m).

mountains

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Location of Mount Everest.
  2. Tallest mountains in the world.
  3. Differences between GPS and GLONASS.
  4. What are fold mountains?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Himalayas for India.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

We won’t order any step that will hobble economy: SC:


Context:

The Supreme Court has orally said it would not pass any order that would risk the economy going “haywire”.

What’s the issue?

The Supreme Court is hearing the government’s response to separate pleas made by industry, real estate and power sectors and others for debt relief, including waiver of interest, during the moratorium.

  • The Court said this after the Union government revealed that a blanket waiver of interest on debts incurred by all classes and categories of borrowers for the moratorium period would mean forgoing an estimated over ₹6 lakh crore.

Why is the Centre concerned?

  1. A possible crippling of the banking sector was one of the main reasons for “not even contemplating waiver interest” and restricting relief to “deferment of payment of instalments”.
  2. If the banks were to bear this burden, it would necessarily wipe out a substantial and a major part of their net worth, rendering most of the banks unviable and raising a very serious question mark over their very survival.
  3. For every loan account, there were about 8.5 deposit accounts in the Indian banking system. Therefore, the government cannot do anything which would topple the economic scenario.

Various measures by the Government:

The Ministry of Finance, under the Disaster Management Act, and the RBI have acted proactively.

  1. The government had sanctioned over ₹90,800-crore liquidity injection for the power distribution companies. This would enable them to pay their outstanding dues to power producers and transmission companies.
  2. In the real estate sector, a government advisory was issued allowing the extension of registration and completion dates of projects under Real Estate Regulatory Authorities by treating COVID-19 as an event of force-majeure.
  3. The government spelt relief for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector by launching an emergency credit line of up to ₹3 lakh crore, backed by 100% government guarantee to enable the MSMEs to get back to regular operations. A sum of ₹1.87 lakh crore had been sanctioned.
  4. The resolution framework announced by the RBI took care of the apprehensions raised about the possible downgrading of loan accounts from standard to non-performing asset (NPA) and consequent impact on ratings.
  5. The Securities and Exchange Board of India had issued circulars to relax the “recognition” of defaults committed during moratorium.
  6. The Kamath Committee set up by the RBI has recommended financial parameters for debt restructuring of 26 sectors affected by COVID-19.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT):


Constituted under Companies Act, 2013.

Functions:

It hears appeals against the orders of:

  1. NCLT under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).
  2. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India under Section 202 and Section 211 of IBC.
  3. The Competition Commission of India (CCI).

Composition:

The President of the Tribunal and the chairperson and Judicial Members of the Appellate Tribunal shall be appointed after consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

The Members of the Tribunal and the Technical Members shall be appointed on the recommendation of a Selection Committee consisting of:

  1. Chief Justice of India or his nominee—Chairperson.
  2. A senior Judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of High Court— Member.
  3. Secretary in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs—Member.
  4. Secretary in the Ministry of Law and Justice—Member.
  5. Secretary in the Department of Financial Services in the Ministry of Finance— Member.

Eligibility:

  1. Chairperson – Should be/been judge of the Supreme Court or should be/been Chief Justice of the High Court.
  2. Judicial Member – Is/has been a judge of a High Court or is a judicial member of a tribunal for 5 years or more.
  3. Technical member– Person with proven ability, integrity and standing having special knowledge and experience of 25 years or more (in specified areas).

Term:

Term of office of chairperson and members is 5 years and they can be reappointed for additional 5 years.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About NCLAT and NCLT.
  2. Functions.
  3. Appeals.
  4. Composition.
  5. Eligibility.
  6. Terms.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Eluru mystery disease: AIIMS finds traces of lead in blood samples of affected:


Context:

At least 550 people fell sick in Eluru town in Andhra Pradesh since Saturday evening due to an undiagnosed illness.

  • Following this, the AIIMS team conducted the blood tests.

What caused this?

  • The results indicate lead and nickel content in drinking water or/and milk as the possible reason behind people falling ill.

What symptoms did the patients show?

Some of these people complained of seizures, anxiety, vomiting, and headache. So far, the illness has not spread from one to another person.

Concern:

The presence of the chemicals in the blood samples was very less as the patients were recovering fast. If the quantity of the toxins was high, or spread through air, it would affect the neurological system.

General factors contributing to lead poisoning:

  1. Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries.
  2. Increase in vehicle ownership, combined with the lack of vehicle battery recycling regulation and infrastructure.
  3. Workers in dangerous and often illegal recycling operations break open battery cases, spill acid and lead dust in the soil.
  4. They also smelt the recovered lead in crude, open-air furnaces that emit toxic fumes poisoning the surrounding community.

general_facts

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. 10 chemicals of major public health concern identified by WHO.
  2. Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint has been launched by?
  3. Lead is mainly used in?
  4. Largest primary producers of lead.
  5. Lead production and consumption in India.

Mains Link:

Write a note on lead poisoning and ways to prevent it.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Pakistan, China violate religious freedom: U.S:


Context:

The US State Department has placed various countries in different lists pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).

Key Points:

  1. Pakistan and China among eight other countries that are of particular concern (CPC) for violation of religious freedom. Others include- Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
  2. Comoros, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.
  3. Al-Shabaab, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Taliban are ‘Entities of Particular Concern’.

Notably, the State Department did not accept the USCIRF recommendation that India, Russia, Syria and Vietnam be also designated as CPCs.

WHAT IS THE U. S. COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM (USCIRF)?

  • USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan, U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
  • USCIRF uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally, and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN USCIRF AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM?

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity, while the Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF) — also established under IRFA—is part of the U.S. State Department.

Both USCIRF and the State Department release annual reports on international religious freedom, but each has different purposes.

  • The State Department’s report documents religious freedom violations in every country in the world.
  • USCIRF’s Annual Report, by statute, recommends countries to be designated as “countries of particular concern” which the Executive Branch must consider.

Background:

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest this religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is USCIRF?
  2. What are countries of particular concern?
  3. About the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Mains Link:

How successful Indian polity has been in maintaining communal harmony in the state? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Supply of life-saving medicines affected by ‘Make in India’ policy:


Context:

The Ministry of Railways has written to the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) seeking exemption for procuring certain medical items manufactured outside India, particularly medicines used in the treatment of COVID-19 and cancer.

What’s the issue?

In the existing ‘Make in India’ policy, there is no window available to procure such items from the suppliers who may not meet the Local Content Criteria required for Class-I and Class-II Local Supplier category.

  1. Class-I is a local supplier or service provider whose goods, services or works offered for procurement have local content equal to or more than 50%.
  2. Class-II is a supplier or service provider whose goods, services or works offered for procurement have local content of more than 20% but less than 50%.

Only these two categories of suppliers shall be eligible to bid in the procurement of all goods, services or works and with estimated value of purchases of less than ₹200 crore.

How is this affecting?

Certain drugs used in cancer treatment were manufactured outside India but available in the Indian market through agents or dealers. Without meeting the prescribed requirements, items cannot be procured from such agents.

Conclusion:

The uninterrupted supply chain of these medicines and medical items are essential in the human life saving category and providing satisfactory health care to all railway employees and their family members.

About ‘Make in India’ Policy:

On September 25, 2014, the Indian government announced the ‘Make in India’ initiative to encourage manufacturing in India and galvanize the economy with dedicated investments in manufacturing and services.

Targets:

  1. To increase the manufacturing sector’s growth rate to 12-14% per annum in order to increase the sector’s share in the economy.
  2. To create 100 million additional manufacturing jobs in the economy by 2022.
  3. To ensure that the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP is increased to 25% by 2022 (revised to 2025) from the current 15-16%.

Outcomes so far:

  1. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has increased from $16 billion in 2013-14 to $36 billion in 2015-16 but it has not increased further and is not contributing to Indian industrialisation.
  2. FDIs in the manufacturing sector are becoming weaker than before. It has come down to $7 billion in 2017-18 as compared to $9.6 billion in 2014-15.
  3. FDIs in the service sector is $23.5 billion, more than three times that of the manufacturing sector which shows Indian economy’s traditional strong points of having remarkably developed computer services.
  4. India’s share in the global exports of manufactured products remains around 2% which is far less than 18% share of China.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. MII initiative.
  2. Targets.
  3. Share of the Service sector in GDP.
  4. Local requirement criteria under the policy.

Mains Link:

Discuss the performance of MII initiative.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Cybersecurity related issues.

How Maharashtra Police will use software to crack down on child porn?


Context:

The cyber wing of the Maharashtra Police recently acquired software from Interpol that would help them track down child pornography uploaded online.

What is the new software that is used by Interpol to act against child pornography online?

  • The Interpol has software that uses various mechanisms like detecting nudity in images, recognising age of the person through facial structures, among other filters.
  • It has in-built algorithms to look for keywords around child pornography that would for example help law enforcement agencies track forums that indulge in these crimes.
  • Based on these filters, the software ‘crawler’ scans the net looking for such images, videos and text. If they find any such media, it is added to the database after which officers identify cases that could fall under child pornography.

What is the TRACE team set up by Maharashtra Cyber to counter child pornography?

  • 12 officers from state went for training to the South Asian wing of Interpol. They form the core of Tactical Response against Cyber Child Exploitation (TRACE) Unit.
  • The TRACE unit was primarily set up to act against child pornography in Maharashtra that is part of a larger campaign against Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) across the country since 2019.

Why has there been a boost in action against CSAM in India since 2019?

  • India’s fight against Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) received a boost in 2019 when National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a US-based non-profit that works to prevent child exploitation, started sharing tip-offs about child pornography in India with Indian agencies.
  • These tip offs were received by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) which then passed it on to the states where the child pornography related incident had taken place.

What is ‘Operation Blackface’ carried out in Maharashtra?

‘Operation Blackface’ is part of the larger action taken against CSAM across the country. Acting on the tip off provided by NCRB, Maharashtra Cyber cops forward complaints to the districts where FIR’s were registered against accused persons.

interpols

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Interpol.
  2. Operation Blackface.
  3. About NCRB.
  4. About the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
  5. What is the TRACE team set up by Maharashtra government?

Mains Link:

India’s fight against Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)- discuss the challenges invloved.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Sri Lanka to get $300 mn Chinese tyre factory:

Sri Lanka has announced the first large-scale Chinese investment in manufacturing in the country, a $300-million tyre factory near a strategic deep-sea port.

  • The factory will be adjacent to the Hambantota port, which was leased to a Chinese company in 2017 after Sri Lanka failed to service the $1.4-billion debt from Beijing used to build it.

Background:

Western nations, as well as regional power India, have long been concerned about Chinese influence in Sri Lanka through projects under its gargantuan Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

srilanka_1

What is the Northern Ireland protocol and why is it needed?

Following Brexit, Northern Ireland’s 310-mile border with the Republic of Ireland is the only land border between the UK and the European Union (EU).

Under an arrangement known as the Northern Ireland protocol, goods will not need to be checked along the Irish border when the new UK-EU relationship begins on 1 January.

northern_ireland

Partners in Population and Development (PPD):

Context:

Inter-Ministerial Conference by Partners in Population and Development (PPD). India took part in it.

About PPD:

  • It is an intergovernmental organisation for promoting south-south cooperation in the fields of reproductive health, population, and development.
  • Its Secretariat is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • Currently, PPD has the membership of 26 developing countries, representing more than 59% of the world’s population.
  • Launched at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), when ten developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America formed an intergovernmental alliance to help implement the Cairo Program of Action (POA).
  • This POA, endorsed by 179 nations, stresses the need to establish mechanisms to promote development through the sharing of experiences in reproductive health (RH) and family planning (FP) within and among countries and to promote effective partnerships among the governments, NGOs, research institutions and the private sector.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. SAARC.
  2. Mahakali treaty.

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