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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 15 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. Why women’s rights activists’ criticised Maharashtra’s proposed laws against sexual offences?

2. What makes the Geminids meteor shower unique?

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Model code of conduct.

2. MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

3. Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).

4. ‘Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India’.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. How did China go about reforming its agriculture and reducing poverty?

 

GS Paper 4:

1. Govto use poll roll data to allot COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Black Fungus.

2. Himgiri.

3. Saksham.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Women related issues.

Why women’s rights activists’ criticised Maharashtra’s proposed laws against sexual offences?


Context:

The Maharashtra Shakti Bill, 2020, and the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020 have been criticised by prominent women’s rights advocates for being “draconian” and “anti-women”.

  • The activists have said that the two Bills (framed on the lines of The Andhra Pradesh Disha Act, 2019) should have been discussed with lawyers, activists, and academics working on women’s issues before they were passed by the state Cabinet.

What are the concerns?

  • An amendment has been proposed to Section 375 (rape) of the IPC, to add an “explanation” that says that in cases where parties are adults and their conduct suggest there was “consent or implied consent”, a presumption of consent will be made. This, the activists say, “feeds into the patriarchal construct of consent and conduct of women”.
  • Section 12 of The Special Courts and Machinery for the Implementation of Shakti Act, 2020, will punish the filing of false complaints. This, according to the signatories, “perpetuates the patriarchal notions of viewing women with suspicion, as unworthy of being believed” — and will deter victims from reporting sexual offences.
  • Besides, the 15 days’ time-frame will not be sufficient for gathering all evidence and will become an excuse for police to not conduct a proper investigation. A hurried investigation and trial, they said, is likely to lead to miscarriage of justice.
  • Also, the death penalty in the new law reduces both the reporting of sexual offences and of conviction rates.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link and Mains Link:

  • Since these are state-specific legislations, just have a brief overview of these Bills, key Provisions and concerns.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

What makes the Geminids meteor shower unique?


Context:

The Geminids meteor shower, believed to be the strongest of the year, is active from December 4-December 20, with December 13 and 14 considered to be the best nights for viewing these meteor showers.

What are meteor showers?

  • Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.
  • Meteor showers are witnessed when Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by a comet or an asteroid.

Why is the Geminid meteor shower considered to be the best of the year?

The Geminids meteor showers are unique because their origin does not lie in a comet, but what is believed to be an asteroid or an extinct comet. The Geminids emerge from 3200 Phaethon, which meteor scientists consider to be an asteroid.

The asteroid is over 5 km in diameter and was named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, the son of Sun god Helios.

  • According to NASA, the Geminids rate will be better this year because the shower’s peak overlaps with a nearly new moon, which means there will be darker skies and no moonlight to wash out the fainter meteors.

What Are The Differences Between An Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite?

  1. Asteroid: A relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.
  2. Comet: A relatively small, at times active, object whose ices can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.
  3. Meteoroid: A small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun.
  4. Meteor: The light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.
  5. Meteorite: A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands upon the Earth’s surface.

space_rock

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an Asteroid?
  2. What is a comet?
  3. What is coma?
  4. Differences between Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: RPA related issues.

Model code of conduct:


Context:

The State Election Commission (SEC) has sought an explanation from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the complaint that he had violated the model code of conduct with his announcement that COVID-19 vaccination will be provided free of cost to everyone in the State.

  • A decision will be taken on the matter after studying his explanation.

Model Code of Conduct(MCC):

What is MCC?

These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.

  • This is in keeping with Article 324 of the Constitution, which mandates EC to conduct free and fair elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.

Aim: To ensure free and fair elections.

When it comes into force?

So far, the Model Code of Conduct came into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.

Status:

The need for such code is in the interest of free and fair elections. However, the code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect. It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.

Evolution:

The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time. This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.

What it contains?

The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.

Enforcement:

The EC has devised several mechanisms to take note of the violation of the code, which include joint task forces of enforcement agencies and flying squads. The latest is the introduction of the cVIGIL mobile app through which audio-visual evidence of malpractices can be reported.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is MCC?
  2. Does it have any statutory backing?
  3. Issued and enforced by?
  4. What happens if violated?
  5. Evolution.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and significance of MCC.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS):


Context:

Members of all parties have unanimously asked the government to release funds for the projects sanctioned in 2018 and 2019, which were under way before the funds were suspended due the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In their representations, the MPs had argued that the funds become more critical during the pandemic.

Background:

The Union government had resorted to Disaster Management Act to suspend the member of Parliament local area development (MPLAD) scheme in April this year.

About MPLAD scheme:

  • Launched in December, 1993.
  • Seeks to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.
  • The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India.
  • The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.

Special focus:

  • MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
  • In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakh is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.

Release of Funds:

  • Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
  • The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
  • The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
  • The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme.
  • The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.
  • At least 10% of the projects under implementation in the district are to be inspected every year by the district authority.

Recommendation of works:

  • The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies.
  • The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected.
  • Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. How is MPLADS connected to Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana?
  2. Where can nominated MPs recommend their works?
  3. Is there any special focus on SC and ST Welfare?
  4. Difference between grants and loans?
  5. Implementing agencies.

Mains Link:

Critically examine whether MPLADS has helped in bridging the gaps in provisioning of public services?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to Health.

Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY):


Context:

The National Health Agency (NHA) has released its data on “The role of private hospitals”. Key findings:

  1. Patients seeking care at private hospitals tend to be older and a larger share consist of men compared with those seeking medical care at public hospitals.
  2. Private hospitals account for over half of the empanelled hospitals, nearly two-thirds of claim volumes, and three-quarters of claim outlays in the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
  3. The top PM-JAY packages by value — including knee replacement, cataracts, haemodialysis and cardiovascular surgeries — are overwhelmingly provided by private hospitals.
  4. Over 72% of private empanelled hospitals are located in just seven States: Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka.

Challenges and Concerns:

  1. Medical audits have also revealed that private hospitals are more likely to indulge in fraud and abuse than public hospitals and more likely to discharge patients early post-surgery to cut costs.
  2. Ensuring the accountability of private hospitals to provide efficient and high-quality care is a pre-eminent challenge for scheme implementation.
  3. There is huge State-wise variation in the share of empanelled private hospitals from less than 25% in most of the northeastern and hill States to 80% in Maharashtra.
  4. Private hospitals have fewer beds than public hospitals and are more likely to be empanelled for surgical packages and super-specialties.

What needs to be done?

Offering a robust public sector alternative in the form of high-performing government hospitals serving as a market anchor will be one element of such an approach.

Key Features of PM-JAY:

  1. The world’s largest health insurance/ assurance scheme is centrally sponsored and is jointly funded by both the central government and the states.
  2. It provides cover of 5 lakhs per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization across public and private empaneled hospitals in India.
  3. Coverage: Over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable entitled families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) are eligible for these benefits.
  4. Provides cashless access to health care services for the beneficiary at the point of service.

Eligibility:

  • No restrictions on family size, age or gender.
  • All pre–existing conditions are covered from day one.
  • Covers up to 3 days of pre-hospitalization and 15 days post-hospitalization expenses such as diagnostics and medicines.
  • Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country.
  • Services include approximately 1,393 procedures covering all the costs related to treatment, including but not limited to drugs, supplies, diagnostic services, physician’s fees, room charges, surgeon charges, OT and ICU charges etc.
  • Public hospitals are reimbursed for the healthcare services at par with the private hospitals.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Components of Ayushman Bharat.
  2. PMJAY- Key features.
  3. Eligibility.
  4. About the National Health Agency.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance and potential of PMJAY.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to Health.

‘Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India’:


Context:

NITI Aayog has released a white paper: Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India with the vision:

  1. To make India’s public health surveillance system more responsive and predictive to enhance preparedness for action at all levels.
  2. Citizen-friendly public health surveillance system will ensure individual privacy and confidentiality, enabled with a client feedback mechanism.
  3. Improved data-sharing mechanism between Centre and states for better disease detection, prevention, and control.
  4. India aims to provide regional and global leadership in managing events that constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

Focus of the paper and Significance:

  • It contributes by suggesting mainstreaming of surveillance by making individual electronic health records the basis for surveillance.
  • Public health surveillance (PHS) is an important function that cuts across primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of care. Surveillance is ‘Information for Action’.
  • It envisions a citizen-friendly public health system, which will involve stakeholders at all levels, be it individual, community, health care facilities or laboratories, all while protecting the individual’s privacy and confidentiality.’
  • The white paper lays out India’s vision 2035 for public health surveillance through the integration of the three-tiered public health system into Ayushman Bharat.
  • It also spells out the need for expanded referral networks and enhanced laboratory capacity.

The building blocks for this vision are:

An interdependent federated system of governance between the Centre and states, a new data-sharing mechanism that involves the use of new analytics, health informatics, and data science including innovative ways of disseminating ‘information for action’.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link and Mains Link:

  • Components and key features of the Paper.

Sources: PIB.

 


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.

How did China go about reforming its agriculture and reducing poverty?


Context:

Learning from agricultural reforms in China.

 Differences in approach between India and China:

Despite similar trends in the growth rates, the two countries- India and China- have taken different reform paths;

  1. China started off with reforms in the agriculture sector and in rural areas, while India started by liberalising and reforming the manufacturing sector.
  2. These differences have led to different growth rates and, more importantly, different rates of poverty reduction

Chinese Reforms:

  1. By making agriculture the starting point of market-oriented reforms, a sector which gave majority of the people their livelihood, China could ensure widespread distribution of gains and build consensus and political support for the continuation of reforms.
  2. Reform of incentives resulted in greater returns to the farmers and in more efficient resource allocation, which in turn strengthened the domestic production base and made it more competitive.
  3. Besides, prosperity in agriculture favoured the development of a dynamic rural non-farm (RNF) sector, regarded as one of the main causes for rapid poverty reduction in China as it provided additional sources of income outside farming.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 4


 

Govt. to use poll roll data to allot COVID-19 vaccine:


COVID operational guidelines were released by the Health Ministry recently.

Accordingly:

  1. The COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system, a digitised platform, will be used to track the enlisted beneficiaries and the COVID-19 vaccines on a real-time basis.
  2. The latest electoral roll for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections will be used to identify the priority population over the age of 50.
  3. At the vaccination site, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated in accordance with the prioritisation, and there will be no provision for on-the-spot registrations.
  4. Vaccine will be offered first to healthcare workers, frontline workers and to persons above 50, followed by persons younger than 50 with associated co-morbidities based on the pandemic situation, and finally to the remaining population based on the disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.
  5. The priority group of above 50 years may be further subdivided into those above 60 and those between 50 to 60 years for purposes of a phased roll-out, based on the pandemic situation and vaccine availability.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Black Fungus:

  • Also called as Mucormycosis or zygomycosis.
  • It is a serious but rare fungal infection.
  • Caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes which exist in the environment.
  • Mucormycosis mainly affects people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness.
  • The symptoms are face numbness, one-side nose obstructions or swelling of eyes, or pain.
  • Early detection and treatment can help.

Why in News?

Occurrence of Covid triggered mucormycosis with high morbidity and mortality.

Himgiri:

  • Himgiri is the first of the three stealth frigates being built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata, under Project 17A for the Navy.
  • Under the Project 17A program, a total of seven ships, four at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and three ships at GRSE are being built with enhanced stealth features, advanced indigenous weapon and sensor fit along with several other improvements.

Saksham:

  • It is the 5th and the last Offshore Patrol Vessel designed and built by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) for Indian Coast Guard.
  • Launched recently.
  • These OPVs will form a formidable part of the Coast Guard Fleet and used for protection of Exclusive Economic Zone of territorial water of the Nation.

What is the US State Sponsor of Terrorism list? What are its implications?

The US Secretary of State has been given powers to designate countries that “have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism” as “State Sponsors of Terrorism”.

The US can place four categories of sanctions on countries part of the list:

  1. Restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance.
  2. A ban on defence exports and sales.
  3. Certain controls over exports of dual use items.
  4. Miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

Why in News?

U.S. lifts Sudan off terror list.

How many countries are there in the list now?

After Sudan’s delisting, three countries remain with the designation: Syria (listed in 1979), Iran (1984) and North Korea (2017).


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