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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 13 February 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 1:

1. UN Committee for World Food Security endorses voluntary guidelines to end hunger.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Disqualification of 7 Nagaland MLAs.

2. Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

3. The doctrine of Separation of powers.

4. Leader of the Opposition.

5. Ebola.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. The Farakka ‘lock’ and hilsa, why there is both hope and apprehension.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Kalarippayattu.

2. Tholpavakkoothu.

3. Vigyan Jyoti Programme.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

UN Committee for World Food Security endorses voluntary guidelines to end hunger:


Context:

The first-ever voluntary guidelines on food systems and nutrition meant to end hunger and malnutrition were endorsed by members of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

  • The guidelines have been developed to support countries in their efforts to eradicate all forms of hunger and malnutrition by utilising a comprehensive food systems approach.

They are structured around seven focus areas:

  1. Transparent, democratic and accountable governance.
  2. Sustainable food supply chains to achieve healthy diets in the context of economic, social and environmental sustainability and climate change.
  3. Equal and equitable access to healthy diets through sustainable food systems.
  4. Food safety across sustainable food systems.
  5. People-centred nutrition knowledge, education and information.
  6. Gender equality and women’s empowerment across food systems.
  7. Resilient food systems in humanitarian contexts.

Objectives and focus:

  • The guidelines are intended to build upon and complement the work and mandate of other international bodies, for example the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025).
  • They call for realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security for all, particularly for the most vulnerable and affected groups.
  • They focus on policy planning and governance so that food systems can be made more resilient and responsive and are in accordance with needs of consumers and producers too, especially small and marginal farmers.

About the Committee on World Food Security (CFS):

Established in 1974 as an intergovernmental body to serve as a forum in the United Nations System for review and follow-up of policies concerning world food security including production and physical and economic access to food.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About CFS.
  2. Overview of guidelines to end hunger.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the voluntary guidelines on food systems and nutrition meant to end hunger and malnutrition.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

Disqualification of 7 Nagaland MLAs:


Context:

The Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court has dismissed two interlocutory applications filed by the Naga People’s Front (NPF) that sought to keep seven of its suspended MLAs off the 60-member Nagaland Assembly.

Background:

The applications were dismissed pending a final verdict on a plea by the seven MLAs challenging the maintainability of a writ petition relating to their disqualification.

What’s the issue?

  • On April 24, 2019, the NPF filed disqualification petitions against its seven suspended MLAs for “wilfully” defying its collective decision to support the Congress candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
  • NPF claimed the seven MLAs had willfully given up their party membership, thereby attracting provisions under the 10th Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.
  • These MLAs, however, said as the NPF’s decision to support the Congress candidate was “against the principle of regionalism”, they said they had backed the other candidate. The NPF had not contested the polls.

What is the anti-defection law?

The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act.

  • It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
  • The decision on question as to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.

Disqualification:

If a member of a house belonging to a political party:

  1. Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
  2. Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
  3. If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  4. If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

Exceptions under the law:

Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances.

  1. The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger.
  2. In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.

Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:

The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Names of various committees and commissions with regard to Anti Defection law.
  2. Decision of presiding officer vs Judicial review.
  3. Merger vs Split of political parties.
  4. Is anti- defection law applicable to the presiding officer?
  5. Relevant Supreme Court cases and verdicts.

Mains Link:

Examine the provisions of Anti- defection law. Has this law largely failed to meet its objective? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021:


Context:

Lok Sabha Passes Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

  • It is already in force by way of an Ordinance promulgated on 4th November, 2020.

Highlights of the Bill:

  1. It seeks to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 so as to (i) enable automatic stay on awards in certain cases and (ii) specify by regulations the qualifications, experience and norms for accreditation of arbitrators.
  2. Seeks to ensure that stakeholder parties can seek an unconditional stay on enforcement of arbitral awards in cases where the “arbitration agreement or contract is induced by fraud or corruption.”
  3. Also does away with the 8th Schedule of the Act that contained the necessary qualifications for accreditation of arbitrators.
  4. Added a proviso in Section 36 of the Arbitration Act and will come into effect retrospectively from October 23, 2015. As per this amendment, if the Court is satisfied that a prima facie case is made out that the arbitration agreement or contract which is the basis of the award was induced or effected by fraud or corruption, it will stay the award unconditionally pending disposal of the challenge made to the award under Section 34.

Issues raised with respect to proposed amendment to Section 36 of the Act:

  1. It is very easy for the losing party to allege corruption and obtain an automatic stay on enforcement of the arbitral award. Thereafter, the parties will have to wait for enforcement till final disposal by the Court. This defeats the very objective of alternate dispute mechanism by drawing parties to Courts and making them prone to prolonged litigation.
  2. Legislation does not define Fraud/ Corruption.
  3. Retrospective application of Amendment Act (from 2015) with respect to automatic stay may open floodgates of litigation.
  4. Amendment will affect enforcement of contracts and ultimately affect ease of doing business in India.

Background:

Until recently, an arbitration award was enforceable even if an appeal was filed against it in the court under Section 36 of the law. The court, however, could grant a stay on the award on conditions as it deemed fit.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedure in which a dispute is submitted, by agreement of the parties, to one or more arbitrators who make a binding decision on the dispute. In choosing arbitration, the parties opt for a private dispute resolution procedure instead of going to court.

What is Conciliation?

Conciliation is also an alternative dispute resolution instrument where parties seek to reach an amicable dispute settlement with the assistance of the conciliator, who acts as a neutral third party.  is a voluntary proceeding, where the parties involved are free to agree and attempt to resolve their dispute by conciliation.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Arbitration?
  2. Recent Amendments.
  3. About the International Court of Arbitration.
  4. About the Arbitration Council of India.
  5. Appointment of arbitrators under the 1996 Act.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

The doctrine of Separation of powers:


Context:

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently told the Lok Sabha that just as independence of the judiciary is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, the principle of separation of powers is also a part of that basic structure. He asserted that governance and lawmaking should be left to the elected members of the legislature.

  • He also urged the judiciary to exercise its discretion in accepting public interest litigations.

What’s the issue?

There has been a “rush to file PILs on almost every issue” nowadays.

What is the doctrine of Separation of Power?

It refers to the model of governance where the executive, legislative and judicial powers are not concentrated in one body but instead divided into different branches.

  • It is not explicitly mentioned in the constitution.

Articles in the Constitution facilitating Separation of Powers are as follows:

  1. Article 50: State shall take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive. This is for the purpose of ensuring the independence of the judiciary.
  2. Article 122 and 212: Validity of proceedings in Parliament and the Legislatures cannot be called into question in any Court. Also, Legislators enjoy certain privileges with regard to speech and anything said in the Parliament cannot be used against them.
  3. Judicial conduct of a Judge of the Supreme Court and the High Court cannot be discussed in the Parliament and the State Legislature, according to Article 121 and 211 of the Constitution.
  4. Articles 53 and 154 respectively, provide that the executive power of the Union and the State shall be vested with the President and the Governor and they enjoy immunity from civil and criminal liability.
  5. Article 361: The President or the Governor shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a PIL?
  2. Who can file?
  3. Powers of Supreme Court vs High Court wrt to PILs.
  4. Articles in the Constitution facilitating Separation of Powers are as follows.

Mains Link:

What is the doctrine of Separation of Power? Discuss how it is followed under the Indian Constitution.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Leader of the Opposition:


Context:

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge is all set to become the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, as incumbent Ghulam Nabi Azad’s term ends on February 15.

Who is the Leader of Opposition?

  • The LOP is leader of the largest party that has not less than one-tenth of the total strength of the house.
  • It is a statutory post defined in the Salaries and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.

Significance of the office:

  • LoP is referred to as the ‘shadow Prime Minister’.
  • She/he is expected to be ready to take over if the government falls.
  • The LoP also plays an important role in bringing cohesiveness and effectiveness to the opposition’s functioning in policy and legislative work.
  • LoP plays a crucial role in bringing bipartisanship and neutrality to the appointments in institutions of accountability and transparency – CVC, CBI, CIC, Lokpal etc.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Leader of Opposition?
  2. Eligibility.
  3. Powers and functions.

Mains Link:

What is the significance of Leader of opposition in Indian Polity? Explain in what way an effective opposition is crucial to an effective democracy?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to Health.

Ebola:


Context:

A new case of Ebola was diagnosed in Democratic Republic of Congo recently.

Background:

Following an outbreak in June 2020, the region was declared Ebola-free in November after no new cases were reported in more than 48 days.

What you need to know about Ebola?

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.

Transmission: The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.

Prevention: Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service and social mobilisation.

Treatment: Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.

Vaccines:

  • An experimental Ebola vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV proved highly protective against EVD in a major trial in Guinea in 2015.
  • The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine is being used in the ongoing 2018-2019 Ebola outbreak in DRC. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should have access to the vaccine under the same conditions as for the general population.
  • The public mistrust and militia attacks have prevented health workers from reaching some hard-hit areas for administering the vaccines.

Ebola

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. How is Ebola spread?
  2. What are zoonotic diseases?
  3. Differences between virus, bacteria and other pathogens.
  4. Where is Congo?
  5. Regions in Africa where Ebola outbreak was observed?

Sources: Down to Earth.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

The Farakka ‘lock’ and hilsa, why there is both hope and apprehension:


Context:

In February 2019, the government had unveiled a project to redesign the navigation lock at the Farakka Barrage at a cost of Rs 360 crore to create a “fish pass” for the hilsa.

  • Fish passes to be built at Farakka also known as fish ladders or fish ways aim to assist fish in crossing obstacles presented by dams and barrages.

Hilsa fish migration:

  • In scientific parlance, the hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) is an anadromous fish. That is, it lives most of its life in the ocean, but during the rainy season, when it is time to spawn, the hilsa moves towards the estuary, where the rivers of India and Bangladesh meet the Bay of Bengal.
  • A large part of the shoal travels upstream in the Padma and the Ganga some are known to move towards the Godavari, and there are records of hilsa migration to the Cauvery.

What affected the fish movement?

  • Historical records also show that until the 1970s, the hilsa would swim the Ganga upstream to Allahabad and even to Agra.
  • But the Farakka Barrage, which became operational on the Ganga in 1975, disrupted the westward movement of the hilsa.
  • The barrage had a navigation lock that stopped the fish from swimming upstream beyond Farakka.

What are fish ladders?

  • They usually consist of small steps that allow the fish to climb over the obstacles and enable them to reach the open waters on the other side.
  • For the intervention to work, the water running over these ladders must be controlled. It must be adequate to catch the attention of the fish, but not too strong to deter them from swimming against it.

fish_ladder

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Kalarippayattu:

  • Kalaripayattu is a Martial art which originated as a style in Kerala during 3nd century BC to the 2nd century AD.
  • The word kalari first appears in Sangam literature to describe both a battlefield and combat arena.
  • It is also considered to be one of the oldest fighting system in existence.
  • It is now practiced in Kerala, in contiguous parts of Tamil Nadu.
  • Kalaripayattu techniques include a combination of steps (Chuvatu) and postures (Vadivu). Chuvatu literally means ‘steps’, the basic steps of the martial arts. Vadivu literally means ‘postures’ or stances are the basic characteristics of Kalaripayattu training. Named after animals, they are usually eight in number.

Tholpavakkoothu:

  • It is also called as shadow puppetry, Nizhalkkoothu and Olakkoothu.
  • It is a traditional temple art in Kerala having its roots in Palakkad and neighbouring regions.
  • It used to be performed in the Bhadrakali temples of Palakkad, telling tales from the Ramayana.
  • Accompanying instruments include Ezhupara, Chenda and Maddalam.
  • The artists have to undergo several years of rigorous training to master this art form.
  • The puppetry is staged on a special structure in temple premises called Koothumadam.

tholpavakkoothu

Vigyan Jyoti Programme:

  • Vigyan Jyoti programme, a new initiative to encourage girls to take interest in science and build career, was launched by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) to create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls to pursue STEM.
  • The programme addresses the underrepresentation of women in certain areas of STEM.
  • Vigyan Jyoti activities include student-parent counselling, visit to labs and knowledge centres, partners role model interactions, science camps, academic support classes, resource material distribution and tinkering activities.

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