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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 17 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.

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. Plea in SC for uniform divorce, alimony rules.

2. Vijay Diwas 2020.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Maharashtra House resolution on Arnab Goswami and its face-off with judiciary.

2. AIIMS scientists find lead in milk samples in Eluru.

3. Human Development Index.

4. U.S. puts India on ‘currency manipulators’ monitoring list.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. In farm laws, the dispute settlement provision govt has offered to roll back.

2. Vaccine hesitancy.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. CMS-01 satellite.

2. List of ‘trusted’ telecom gear firms planned.

3. Pak. approves chemical castration of sex offenders.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Women related issues.

Plea in SC for uniform divorce, alimony rules:


Context:

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a plea to frame uniform guidelines on divorce, maintenance and alimony for all religions.

Need for:

A petition was filed in the court that argued divorce, maintenance and alimony laws in certain religions discriminated and marginalised women.

  • These anomalies, varying from one religion to another, were violative of the right to equality (Article 14 of the Constitution) and right against discrimination (Article 15) on the basis of religion and gender and right to dignity.
  • Therefore, the laws on divorce, maintenance and alimony should be “gender-neutral and religion-neutral”.

Status of Personal Law in India:

Personal law subjects like marriage, divorce, inheritance come under Concurrent list.

  • Hindu personal laws have been by and large secularized and modernized by statutory enactments (The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955).
  • On the other hand, Muslim personal laws are still primarily unmodified and traditional in their content and approach (Eg: Shariat law of 1937).
  • Apart from it, Christians and Jews are also governed by different personal laws.

Article 142:

Article 142 “provide(s) a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, i.e., where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner which would befit the facts of the case.

Alimony:

Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which applies to all communities lays down the provision for maintenance of wives, children, and parents if they do not earn enough and reasonable means to maintain themselves, or suffer from any physical or mental incapacity. Under this section, even a wife who has not divorced her husband has the right to get maintenance from her husband.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Uniform Civil Code?
  2. About Articles 13, 14 and 19.
  3. Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  4. Article 142 is related to?
  5. 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for having uniform guidelines on divorce, maintenance and alimony for all religions.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

Vijay Diwas 2020:


Context:

Vijay Diwas or Victory Day is celebrated in India every year on December 16 to commemorate the victory of the Indian armed forces over Pakistan in the 1971 Indo-Pak War, also known as the Bangladesh Liberation War.

  • The India-Pakistan war began on 3 December 1971 and ended on 16 December 1971. It was one of the shortest wars (13 days) but saw one of the biggest surrenders.

India’s role in Bangladesh’s creation:

The 13-day Indo-Pak War was sparked by the rebellion in erstwhile East Pakistan against the government in Islamabad.

  • Since March 1971, Bengali nationalists had been fighting a brutal crackdown by Pakistani forces on the civil and political rights of the Bengali population.
  • Then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had provided support to the Bangladesh cause for months but the Indian military formally engaged in a full-scale war with Pakistan on December 3.
  • Soon, foreign pressure to end the war and mounting losses forced Islamabad to accept defeat, thereby granting Bangladesh full independence.

Key outcomes:

  • Unilateral and unconditional surrender of the Pakistan Army and subsequent secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh.
  • It was the first war after World War II that India had won conclusively.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Vijay Diwas.
  2. Significance.
  3. Bangladesh Liberation war.
  4. Operation trident.

Mains Link:

Write a note on Bangladesh Liberation war.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Maharashtra House resolution on Arnab Goswami and its face-off with judiciary:


Context:

Questioning the boundaries of the judiciary’s powers, both Houses of the Maharashtra State Legislature have passed proposals stating that they will not take cognizance of or reply to any notice sent by the High Court or the Supreme Court in the Breach of Privilege motion against Republic TV editor and anchor Arnab Goswami.

  • This has added a new twist to the debate over the separation of powers between the judiciary and legislature.

What is the doctrine of separation of power?

  • The doctrine of separation of power is a part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, even though it is not specifically mentioned in its text.
  • It implies that the three pillars of democracy, namely the executive, judiciary and legislature, perform separate functions and act as separate entities.
  • One of the features of the doctrine is that one arm of the state should not interfere in the functioning of the other organs or exercise a function of another organ.

What legal provisions has the state assembly invoked while passing the proposal?

The proposal cites two articles of the constitution as the basis of its argument. They are:

  • Article 194 of the Constitution, which lays down the powers and privileges of the Houses of Legislatures.
  • Article 212 states that the validity of any proceedings in the Legislature of a State shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Articles 194 and 212.
  2. What is the doctrine of separation of power?
  3. Original powers of Supreme Court.
  4. Appellate jurisdiction of High Courts and Supreme Court.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

AIIMS scientists find lead in milk samples in Eluru:


Context:

Scientists of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have revealed that lead was noticed in milk samples collected in Eluru town and its neighbouring villages in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

Background:

With the outbreak of the undiagnosed illness in Eluru and its adjoining areas on December 4, experts and doctors from various organisations rushed to the district and collected food, water, milk, blood and other samples.

About Lead:

  • Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time.
  • Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing foetus.
  • WHO has identified lead as 1 of 10 chemicals of major public health concern.
  • WHO has joined with the United Nations Environment Programme to form the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint.

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.

lead_toxic

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: Issues related to health and human development.

Human Development Index:


Context:

United Nations’ Human Development Index was released recently.

What is HDI?

Published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it is a statistical tool used to measure a country’s overall achievement in its social and economic dimensions. The social and economic dimensions of a country are based on the health of people, their level of education attainment and their standard of living.

What’s unique about this year’s index?

For the first time, the United Nations Development Programme introduced a new metric to reflect the impact caused by each country’s per-capita carbon emissions and its material footprint, which measures the amount of fossil fuels, metals and other resources used to make the goods and services it consumes.

  • This metric is called- the Planetary Pressures-adjusted HDI, or PHDI.

India’s performance:

  • India dropped two ranks, standing at 131 out of 189 countries.
  • If the Index were adjusted to assess the planetary pressures caused by each nation’s development, India would move up eight places in the ranking, according to the report.

Performance of other countries:

  1. Norway tops the HDI. It, however, falls 15 places if the new metric (The Planetary Pressures-adjusted HDI, or PHDI) is used, leaving Ireland at the top of the table.
  2. In fact, 50 countries would drop entirely out of the “very high human development group” category, using this new metric.
  3. Australia falls 72 places in the ranking, while the United States and Canada would fall 45 and 40 places respectively, reflecting their disproportionate impact on natural resources.
  4. China would drop 16 places from its current ranking of 85.

Impact of pandemic:

Although this year’s report covers 2019 only, and does not account for the impact of COVID, it projected that in 2020, global HDI would fall below for the first time in the three decades since the Index was introduced.

hdi

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About HDI.
  2. Components.
  3. How is it calculated?
  4. India’s performance.
  5. What is the Planetary Pressures-adjusted HDI, or PHDI?
  6. About UNDP.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

U.S. puts India on ‘currency manipulators’ monitoring list:


Context:

The U.S. Treasury has labeled Switzerland and Vietnam as currency manipulators.

  • It has also added three new names- Taiwan, Thailand and India- to a watch list of countries it suspects of taking measures to devalue their currencies against the dollar.

To be labeled a manipulator by the U.S. Treasury:

  • Countries must at least have a $20 billion-plus bilateral trade surplus with the U.S.
  • Foreign currency intervention exceeding 2% of gross domestic product.
  • A global current account surplus exceeding 2% of GDP.

Reasons:

  • In the year through June 2020 Switzerland and Vietnam had intervened heavily in currency markets to prevent effective balance of payments adjustments.
  • India and Singapore had intervened in the foreign exchange market in a “sustained, asymmetric manner” but did not meet other requirements to warrant designation as manipulators.

Implications:

While the designation of a country as a currency manipulator does not immediately attract any penalties, it tends to dent the confidence about a country in the global financial markets.

What is currency manipulation and who determines it?

  • The US Department of the Treasury publishes a semi-annual report in which the developments in global economic and exchange rate policies are reviewed.
  • If a US trade partner meets three assessment criteria, the US labels it a currency manipulator.
  • The US Treasury department defines currency manipulation as when countries deliberately influence the exchange rate between their currency and the US dollar to gain “unfair competitive advantage in international trade”.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. US Currency Manipulators list.
  2. Countries in watch list.
  3. Criteria.
  4. Implications.
  5. India’s position.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

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.

In farm laws, the dispute settlement provision govt has offered to roll back:


Context:

In its bid to placate famers protesting on the borders of the national capital for over three weeks against the new farm laws, the Centre offered to significantly water down key provisions of these laws.

  • Among the changes proposed is the rollback of a unique dispute resolution mechanism for issues between farmers and buyers, and instead bringing such disputes under the jurisdiction of a civil court.

What is the dispute settlement mechanism?

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, provides a buyer a right to engage in trade and commerce of a farmer’s produce across the country.

This means a farmer has freedom to engage in intra-state and inter-state trade with buyers, expanding her choices beyond a traditional market.

  • The law also provides for a dispute resolution mechanism. Section 8 of the Act, which lays down the “dispute resolution mechanism for farmers” states that “in case of any dispute arising out of a transaction between the farmer and a trader”, a Conciliation Board appointed by the Sub- Divisional Magistrate will settle the dispute.
  • It says the settlement by the Conciliation Board will be binding on the parties.

What if the parties cannot reach a settlement?

If the dispute is not settled within 30 days of being brought to the Board, the SDM will hear the dispute acting as the “Sub-Divisional Authority” for settlement of such dispute.

  1. The Sub-Divisional Authority is empowered to pass three kinds of orders under the law:
    1. Pass an order for the recovery of the amount payable to the farmers and traders.
    2. Impose a penalty.
    3. Suspend for such period as he deems fit or cancel the right to operate as an electronic trading and transaction platform.

Why are farmers upset with this dispute resolution framework?

Section 15 of the Act says “no civil court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceedings in respect of any matter, the cognisance of which can be taken and disposed of by any authority empowered by or under this Act or the rules made thereunder.”

  • It is essentially the replacing of the jurisdiction of civil courts with a heavily bureaucratic procedure under the authority of the SDM.

 Can a statute bar courts from having jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction of civil courts is governed by Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code. The provision says that civil courts have the jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature, except suits of which cognisance is either expressly or impliedly barred.

So statutes routinely bar the jurisdiction of civil courts to set up alternative dispute mechanisms.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in IT and biotechnology.

Vaccine hesitancy:


Context:

An online survey has shown that as the country readies to implement its COVID-19 vaccination programme, vaccine hesitancy could be an issue that the government needs to address forthwith.

  • The results showed that there was considerable hesitation even among the medical community to take the vaccine as soon as it is available.

What’s the Concern?

A vaccine is one of the essential weapons in the armamentarium in our war against the pandemic. Any hesitation in accepting the vaccine will have a negative consequence on our effort to control the pandemic.

Need of the hour:

  1. Proactively address the reasons behind this hesitancy.
  2. Give confidence to the public by discussing the robustness of various processes involved in drug/vaccine development — clinical trial designs, conduct, monitoring, analysis, reporting and the regulatory reviews that happen before it is approved.
  3. This will make the public aware about the rigorous processes followed for clinical trials, and the approval, as followed by regulators.

point_concern_1

Vaccine Hesitancy: A generation at risk:

  • Vaccine hesitancy is defined by WHO as a “delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services”.
  • It was one of 10 threats to global health this year.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


CMS-01 satellite:

  • It is a communication satellite launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on board the PSLV-C50.
  • CMS-01 is a communications satellite envisaged for providing services in extended C Band of the frequency spectrum.
  • Its coverage will include the Indian mainland, and the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands, ISRO said.
  • The satellite is expected to have a life of more than seven years.

List of ‘trusted’ telecom gear firms planned:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Security has approved the National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector mandating telecom service providers to procure equipment from sources designated to be “trusted”.
  • This was done in order to maintain the integrity of the supply chain security.
  • The government will declare a list of trusted sources/products for the benefit of telecom service providers.

Pak. approves chemical castration of sex offenders:

  • Pakistan has approved the chemical castration of rapists as part of sweeping new legislation sparked.
  • New laws will see rape cases expedited through the courts and create the country’s first national sex offenders register.

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