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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 5 January 2021

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. Budget session.

2. SC asks govt. to repeal the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017.

3. 3 states, 3 anti-conversion laws: what’s similar, what’s different?

4. Iran begins enriching uranium in new breach of nuclear deal.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Faceless tax scheme.

2. Bird flu.

3. Flue Gas Desulphurization.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Pangolin.

2. India’s Arctic Expedition To Resume In June.

3. The new ‘School Bag Policy, 2020’.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

Budget session:


Context:

The budget session of Parliament is expected to be held under similar COVID-19 safety measures and restrictions, including strict physical distancing norms, that were in place for the monsoon session.

  • So far, there is no clarity on whether the Question Hour which was suspended during the monsoon session as part of the COVID-19 restrictions will resume in the budget session.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Article 85 requires that there should not be a gap of more than six months between two sessions of Parliament.
  • The Constitution does not specify when or for how many days Parliament should meet.

Why is a Parliamentary Session important?

  1. Law-making is dependent on when Parliament meets.
  2. Also, a thorough scrutiny of the government’s functioning and deliberation on national issues can only take place when the two Houses are in session.
  3. Predictability in the functioning of Parliament is key to a well-functioning democracy.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who summons the Houses of Parliament?
  2. Powers of President vs Powers of Chairperson.
  3. What is adjournment sine die?
  4. What is dissolution of the house?
  5. Why Rajya Sabha cannot be dissolved?

Mains Link:

What needs to be done to increase the productivity of both the houses of Parliament? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

SC asks government to repeal the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017:


Why the Supreme Court ordered so?

  • The law allowed seizure and subsequent confiscation in ‘gaushalas’ of livestock from people, who depended on these animals for a livelihood, even before they were found guilty of cruelty towards them.
  • It allowed authorities to seize cattle on a mere suspicion that they suffered cruel treatment at the hands of their owners or were being primed for slaughter.
  • Because of this, a farmer, a livestock owner or a cattle trader loses his animals before being found guilty of the charge of cruelty.

About the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017:

  • The rules were framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
  • The 2017 Rules allow a Magistrate to forfeit the cattle of an owner facing trial under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
  • The animals are then sent to infirmaries, ‘gaushalas’, ‘pinjarapole’, etc. These authorities can further give such animals for “adoption”.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

3 states, 3 anti-conversion laws: what’s similar, what’s different?


Context:

The MP Cabinet has approved the Freedom to Religion Bill, 2020 as an Ordinance.

  • Previously, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have passed similar laws.

What’s similar?

A common feature of all three laws is the declaration of such marriages as “null and void” and the penalising of conversions done without the prior approval of the state.

Differences:

They differ in the quantum of punishment prescribed, and in attributing the burden of proof that a conversion is lawful.

  1. Prior notice:

The MP Law requires a 60-day prior “declaration of the intention to convert” to the District Magistrate for conversion to be valid, following which a couple from different religions can be legally married.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020 too requires a 60-day notice but also requires the Magistrate to conduct a police inquiry to ascertain the real intention behind the conversion.

The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 that came into effect last week, requires a 30-day prior “declaration of intention to convert”.

Who can investigate?

The MP Law: Section 4 of the MP Law states that there cannot be an investigation by a police officer except on the written complaint of the person converted or the person’s parents/siblings. No police officer below the rank of a sub-inspector can investigate an offence under the law.

The Himachal law says that prosecution cannot be initiated without the prior sanction of an officer not below the rank of a sub-divisional magistrate.

The UP law allows the same people as allowed by the MP Law to file a complaint.

Burden of proof:

The MP Law places on the person converted the burden of proving that the conversion was done without any coercion or illegality.

The Himachal law has a similar provision.

The UP law goes further, placing this burden of proof on people who “caused” or “facilitated” the conversion and not on the individual.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Article 21.
  2. Article 25.
  3. What has the Allahabad High Court said in Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case.
  4. Similarities and differences between these three laws.

Mains Link:

The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty. Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

Iran begins enriching uranium in new breach of nuclear deal:


Context:

Iran has resumed 20 percent uranium enrichment at its sensitive Fordow nuclear facility— a major step away from a 2015 nuclear deal struck with world powers.

Implications:

  • Enriched uranium can be used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear bombs. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% purity.
  • The move could complicate the incoming Biden administration’s plans to restart nuclear talks with Tehran.

Iran’s changing attitude:

  • Iran, which insists that its nuclear programme is peaceful, has rolled back a number of commitments under the deal.
  • It has said it is retaliating for the US economic sanctions that were reinstated in 2018 by President Donald Trump when he abandoned the accord, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

What is enriched uranium?

  • Enriched uranium is produced by feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges to separate out the most suitable isotope for nuclear fission, called U-235.
  • Low-enriched uranium, which typically has a 3-5% purity of U-235, can be used to produce fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
  • Highly enriched uranium has a concentration of 20% or more and is used in research reactors.

centrifuge

Why is 20% purity significant?

  • Experts at the Arms Control Association said that 120kg of uranium enriched to 20% was about half the amount of uranium that, when enriched to weapons-grade (90% or more), was necessary for one bomb .
  • They also warned that the production of highly enriched uranium would pose a more serious near-term proliferation risk.

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: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Faceless tax scheme:


Context:

The government’s faceless tax assessment scheme has managed to deliver about 24,000 final orders since its introduction in August 2020.

About Faceless tax scheme:

In the Union Budget 2019, the Finance Minister proposed the introduction of a scheme of faceless e-assessment.

  • It is an attempt to remove individual tax officials’ discretion and potential harassment for income tax payers.
  • The scheme allows for appropriate cases where a certain hearing is necessary, so then after following protocols, a hearing is given.
  • The main objective is to remove physical interaction as much as possible.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: economics of animal-rearing.

Bird Flu:


Context:

Kerala on alert after bird flu in two districts.

  • H5N8 subtype of Influenza A virus reported in ducks.

type_a_viruses

About Avian influenza (bird flu):

  • It is a viral infection that can infect not only birds, but also humans and other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds.
  • It is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet birds and wild birds.
  • Occasionally mammals, including humans, may contract avian influenza.
  • Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes based on two surface proteins, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA).

Influenza A(H5N8) virus:

According to Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health, H5N8 avian influenza is a disease of birds, caused by Type “A” influenza viruses, which can affect several species of domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, ducks, as well as pet birds, wild migratory birds and water fowl.

Can the virus transfer to humans?

There are no known cases of H5N8 in human beings. Risk to general public is very low. There is also no evidence that consumption of poultry meat or eggs could transmit the virus to humans. But necessary precautions are required while handling sick/dead birds and contaminated material during control and containment operations. It is considered safe to eat properly cooked poultry products.

Control measures:

Culling is usually undertaken to control the infection when it is detected in animals. Besides culling, safe disposal of all such culled animals and animal products is also important. The authorities also need to strictly enforce decontamination of infected premises and undertake quarantine of contaminated vehicles and personnel.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. When a country is declared free from Avian Influenza, who declares it?
  2. H5N1 vs H5N6 vs H9N2 vs H5N8.

Mains Link:

Write a note on Bird Flu. Discuss how it can be prevented.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Flue Gas Desulphurization:


Context:

The Ministry of Power has proposed pushing back deadlines for adoption of new emission norms by coal fired power plants, saying “an unworkable time schedule” would burden utilities and lead to an increase in power tariffs.

Details:

  • The Centre had initially set a 2017 deadline for thermal power plants to comply with emissions standards for installing Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) units that cut emissions of toxic sulphur dioxide.
  • That was later changed to varying deadlines for different regions ending in 2022. Under the latest proposal, no new dates have been set.
  • The target should be to maintain uniform ambient air quality across the country and not uniform emission norms for thermal power plants.

What is flue gas desulphurisation?

  • Removal of Sulfur Dioxide is called as Flue-gas Desulphurization (FGD).
  • It seeks to remove gaseous pollutants viz. SO2 from exhaust flue gases generated in furnaces,boilers, and other industrial processes due to thermal processing, treatment, and combustion.

Common methods used:

  1. Wet scrubbing using a slurry of alkaline sorbent, usually limestone or lime, or seawater to scrub gases;
  2. Spray-dry scrubbing using similar sorbent slurries;
  3. Wet sulfuric acid process recovering sulfur in the form of commercial quality sulfuric acid;
  4. SNOX Flue gas desulfurization removes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates from flue gases;
  5. Dry sorbent injection systems that introduce powdered hydrated lime (or other sorbent material) into exhaust ducts to eliminate SO2 and SO3 from process emissions.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is flue gas desulphurisation?
  2. Methods.
  3. What is SO2? How is it produced?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Pangolin:

Context:

The Odisha Forest department has stressed the need for stricter monitoring of social media platforms to check pangolin poaching and trading.

Key Facts:

Pangolin is the only scaly mammal on the planet.

According to CITES, it is also the most illegally traded vertebrate within its class (Mammalia).

Of the eight species of pangolin worldwide, two are found in India. They are Chinese pangolin, mostly found in northeast India and Indian pangolin.

  • Chinese pangolin has been listed as “critically endangered”.
  • Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) has been listed as “endangered”.

It is also a Schedule I category protected animal, under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

table_2

India’s Arctic Expedition To Resume In June:

India embarked upon the Arctic research by launching first scientific expedition to Arctic in the first week of August, 2007, using the international research facility in the Spitsbergen Island of Norway.

  • Subsequently, India has been sending scientific teams every summer and winter for carrying out studies in the Arctic, primarily in the fields of glaciology, hydrochemistry, microbiology, and atmospheric sciences.

Background:

India is also a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty and to the Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection and has two research stations in Antarctica: Bharati (commissioned in 2012) and Maitri (since 1988). India has the Observer Status in the Arctic Council.

The new ‘School Bag Policy, 2020’:

Released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

  • The weight of the school bags, as per the policy, should be 1.6 to 2.2 kg for students of Classes I and II, 1.7 to 2.5 kg for Classes III, IV and V, 2 to 3 kg for Classes VI and VII, 2.5 to 4 kg for Class VIII, 2.5 to 4.5 kg for Classes IX and X and 3.5 to 5 kg for Classes XI and XII.

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