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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 23 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 2:

1. What next in Puducherry as Narayanasamy loses trust vote?

2. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

3. Amendments made to the Right to Information Act.

4. Kerala govt. annuls agreement with U.S. firm.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. National Cyber Security Strategy.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM).

2. Skill Development Centre (SDC) for Fire Safety Training.

3. Uthuru Thila Falhu(UTF).

4. Zolgensma gene therapy.

 


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

What next in Puducherry as Narayanasamy loses trust vote?


Context:

Congress-led govt. falls in Puducherry.

  • Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy submitted his resignation to Lieutenant-Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan as it became apparent that he had lost the confidence of the House.

What next? Possible Scenarios:

  1. In a probability, the opposition combine may stake claim to form government.
  2. The LG may recommend President’s Rule in the state as elections are just around the corner.
  3. The LG may ask Narayanasamy to continue as caretaker CM till elections are held.

What is President’s Rule in the Indian context?

Article 356 of the Constitution of India gives President of India the power to suspend state government and impose President’s rule of any state in the country if “he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”.

It is also known as ‘State Emergency’ or ‘Constitutional Emergency’.

 Implications:

Upon the imposition of this rule, there would be no Council of Ministers.

  • The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to head the proceedings, representing the President of India.

Parliamentary Approval and Duration:

  • A proclamation imposing President’s Rule must be approved by both the Houses of Parliament within two months from the date of its issue.
  • The approval takes place through simple majority in either House, that is, a majority of the members of the House present and voting.
  • Initially valid for six months, the President’s Rule can be extended for a maximum period of three years with the approval of the Parliament, every six months.

Report of the Governor:

Under Article 356, President’s Rule is imposed if the President, upon receipt of the report from the Governor of the State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Revocation:

  • A proclamation of President’s Rule may be revoked by the President at any time by a subsequent proclamation.
  • Such a proclamation does not require parliamentary approval.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Imposition of President’s Rule.
  2. Related Provisions.
  3. Report of Governor.
  4. Parliamentary approval and duration.
  5. Revocation.
  6. What happens to the State legislature Under President’s Rule.

Mains Link:

What is President’s Rule? Why it is controversial? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to Health.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES):


Context:

First AES case of the year suspected in Muzaffarpur.

  • Usually AES, locally called chamki bukhar, surfaces during summer in the flood-prone districts of north Bihar.

Background:

AES cases were reported from five north Bihar districts in 2019. More than 150 children died. More than 600 children suffering from AES were admitted in the hospitals, including SKMCH and nearly 450 recovered.

About AES:

Acute encephalitis syndrome is a basket term used for referring to hospitals, children with clinical neurological manifestation that includes mental confusion, disorientation, convulsion, delirium, or coma.

  • Meningitis caused by virus or bacteria, encephalitis (mostly Japanese encephalitis) caused by virus, encephalopathy, cerebral malaria, and scrub typhus caused by bacteria are collectively called acute encephalitis syndrome.
  • The disease most commonly affects children and young adults and can lead to considerable morbidity and mortality.

Symptoms:

It is characterized as acute-onset of fever and a change in mental status (mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma) and/or new-onset of seizures in a person of any age at any time of the year.

Cause of the disease:

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is considered a very complex disease as it can be caused by various agents including bacteria, fungi, virus and many other agents.

  • Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the major cause of AES in India (ranging from 5%-35%).
  • Nipah virus, Zika virus are also found as causative agents for AES.

How is it related to litchi fruits? How it affects?

In India, AES outbreaks in north and eastern India have been linked to children eating unripe litchi fruit on empty stomachs.

Unripe fruit contain the toxins hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropylglycine (MCPG), which cause vomiting if ingested in large quantities.

  • Hypoglycin A is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the unripened litchi that causes severe vomiting (Jamaican vomiting sickness), while MCPG is a poisonous compound found in litchi seeds.

Why it affects undernourished children?

Blood glucose falls sharply causing severe brain malfunction (encephalopathy), leading to seizures and coma, and death in many cases.

  • This is because under-nourished children lack sufficient glucose reserve in the form of glycogen and the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate source is blocked midway leading to low blood sugar level.
  • This causes serious brain function derangement and seizures.

Measures needed:

  1. Increase access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities.
  2. Improve nutritional status of children at risk of JE/AES.
  3. Preparative measures to be in place before the possible outbreaks.
  4. Vector control.
  5. Better awareness generation among children, parents through Anganwadi workers etc.

AES

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. AES is caused by?
  2. Diseases caused by virus vs bacteria vs fungi.
  3. What is hypoglycaemia?
  4. What is JE?
  5. How eating litchi fruits aggravate the problem in malnourished children?

Mains Link:

What is Acute encephalitis syndrome? Discuss the causative agents, do you think authorities failed at several levels in preventing deaths due to encephalopathy in Bihar? Suggest what needs to be done?

Sources: Down to Earth.

 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Amendments made to the Right to Information Act:


Context:

The Supreme Court has criticised the Union government for having not filed a reply to a petition by parliamentarian Jairam Ramesh challenging the amendments made to the Right to Information Act for over a year.

What’s the issue?

The petitioner argues that the amendments gave the Centre unparalleled powers to dictate the tenure, salaries and service conditions of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners as per its “whims and fancies”.

  • The petitioner contended that the RTI Amendment Act of 2019 and its Rules cripple the objectivity and independence of the Central Information Commission (CIC) by bringing under the yoke of the government.

What were the amendments?

  1. The Centre shall have the powers to set the salaries and service conditions of Information Commissioners at central as well as state levels.
  2. Term of the central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners: appointment will be “for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
  3. While the original Act prescribes salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the state Chief Information Commissioner as “the same as that of an Election Commissioner”, and the salaries and other terms of service of the State Information Commissioners as “the same as that of the Chief Secretary to the State Government”, the amendment proposes that these “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.

Why these amendments are criticised?

  • The amendments are seen as a “threat to the independence” of the Central Information Commissioner.
  • By diminishing the status of the CIC, IC and State CIC from that of a Supreme Court judge would reduce their ability to issue directives to senior government functionaries.
  • The amendments would empower the Centre to make rules to decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of information commissioners of the Central and also State Information Commissions. This will fundamentally weaken the institution of the information commissions as it will adversely impact the ability of commissioners to function in an independent manner.
  • The government held no public consultations on the Bill.

What are the government’s stated grounds for bringing the amendments?

The statement of objects says “the mandate of Election Commission of India and Central and State Information Commissions are different. Hence, their status and service conditions need to be rationalised accordingly”.

  • CIC has been given the status of a Supreme Court Judge, but his judgments can be challenged in the High Courts.
  • Therefore, the amendments Have been brought to correct certain anomalies in the RTI Act. It does not dilute the Act in anyway and it was passed in a hurry in 2005. RTI Amendments would strengthen the overall RTI structure.

key_points

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of Public Authority under the act.
  2. Exceptions under the act.
  3. About Chief Information Commissioner.
  4. State Information Commissioners.
  5. Public Information Officers.
  6. Latest amendments.

Mains Link:

Discuss the role played by key stakeholders under the Right to Information Act of India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Kerala govt. annuls agreement with U.S. firm:


Context:

The Kerala government has invalidated a controversial agreement that the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) had reached with a U.S.-based firm, EMCC International, to build and operate a deep-sea trawling fleet to harvest the marine wealth off the State’s coast.

What’s the issue?

Opposition called this deal as a bid to sell off the state’s marine wealth, endangering the livelihood of lakhs of fishermen in the state.

What was the agreement all about? What were the objectives of the project?

One of the stated objectives of the deal was deep sea fishing with state-of-the-art technology.

  • The components of the project were building 400 deep sea fishing trawlers as per the design proposed by EMCC.
  • The EMCC would train and deploy 1.60 lakh fishermen in deep sea fishing. Their skills would be upgraded, and the local fishing community would benefit in terms of direct and indirect employment opportunities.

How is the proposed project against fisheries policy?

The Union Government had in 2017 withdrawn permission given for foreign trawlers for deep sea fishing in the exclusive economic zone of the country.

  • The EEZ of the country extends up to 370 km from the coastline.

Illegal fishing by foreign vessels in Indian waters is punishable under provisions of Maritime Zone of India (Regulation of Fishing by Foreign Vessels Act) 1981.

Besides, Kerala’s fisheries policy, brought in 2018, opposed allowing foreign and native corporate vessels along the state’s coast

  • The professed policy of the state is to equip the traditional fishermen for deep sea fishing by making them owners of deep sea fishing vessels.
  • Besides, there would be restrictions on the number of vessels. Only traditional fishermen would be given permission to replace their old boats.

What is Deep Sea Trawling?

The Deep Sea Trawling can be defined as the Industrial way or method fishing in which large nets with heavy weight are carted across the seafloor to lift out the catch marine animals such as fishes, shrimp, cod etc. It is considered as the most prominent method of fishing which is a practice across the world at large scale.

Impact of Deep Sea Trawling on Environment:

The gears of Deep Sea Trawling creates huge on the life of marine plants and animals as well as the seafloor by disrupting the sediment column structure, overturning boulders, re-suspending sediments and imprinting deep scars on muddy bottoms.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Cyber security related issues.

National Cyber Security Strategy:


Context:

Following instances of cyber attacks during the ongoing pandemic across its network, the Ministry of Railways has roped in the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to educate its officials on Internet ethics, cyber hygiene and best practices in the use of IT equipment, including mobile phones.

  • This is a part of its National Cyber Security Strategy.

Need for:

In January 2019 alone, 6.61 crore passengers booked from 10,394 terminals in 3,440 locations and the IRCTC website resulting in a revenue of ₹3,962.27 crore.

  • However, the pandemic had introduced a greater reliance on electronic modes of communication in official working. Hence, it is necessary that all officials took responsibility and followed adequate procedures when using IT infrastructure for ensuring confidentiality, privacy etc in dealing with official information.

About C- DAC:

Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is the premier R&D organization of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for carrying out R&D in IT, Electronics and associated areas.

  • The setting up of C-DAC in 1988 itself was to built Supercomputers in context of denial of import of Supercomputers by USA. Since then C-DAC has been undertaking building of multiple generations of Supercomputer starting from PARAM with 1 GF in 1988.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About CDAC.
  2. Composition.
  3. Functions.
  4. India’s Supercomputers- overview.

Mains Link:

Discuss the role and functions of CDAC.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM):

  • VL-SRSAM is meant for neutralizing various aerial threats at close ranges including sea-skimming targets.
  • It has been indigenously designed and developed by DRDO for the Indian Navy.
  • The canister-based state-of-the-art weapon system has a strike range of about 40 km.

Skill Development Centre (SDC) for Fire Safety Training:

Situated at Pilkhuwa in Uttar Pradesh.

  • The facility, created by the Delhi-based DRDO laboratory Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES), is aimed at developing trained human resources, fire safety technology and products to save precious human lives and valued assets.
  • The first of its kind in India, the SDC has been created by adopting state-of-the-art technology and setting up of simulation systems for validation of fire at realistic scale in order to meet the challenges and enhance the skills of Defence Fire Service Personnel and combatants from the Armed Forces.

Uthuru Thila Falhu(UTF):

  • India has signed an agreement with Maldives for developing a Maldives National Defence Force Coast Guard Harbour at Sifvaru –Uthuru Thilafalhu(UTF).
  • The pact aims to “develop, support and maintain” the harbour and is part of the request made by the Maldivian government in April 2013 to the Indian government to enhance the capability of the Maldivian Defence forces.

Zolgensma gene therapy:

Zolgensma gene therapy is a one-time injection that replaces the defective gene with normal gene and rectifies the disorder. In 2019, US FDA approved this therapy for children aged less than two years.

gene_therapy


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