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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 25 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. National Commission for SCs.

2. U.P. Assembly passes Bill on conversion amid protests.

3. Japan protests after two Chinese coast guard ships enter islands in East China Sea.

4. France slams ‘repression’ of Uighurs.

5. Human Rights Council election.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. ‘Monetise or modernise’ is Modi’s mantra for govt. assets.

 

GS Paper 4:

1. ‘Recognise right to silence as a virtue’.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Accredited investor.

2. Imran announces $50 mn defence credit line for Lanka.

3. Ghana first country to receive COVAX vaccines.

4. National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM).

5. International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD).

 


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topic covered: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

National Commission for SCs:


Context:

New chief for National Commission for SCs- Vijay Sampla.

About National Commission for Scheduled Castes:

  • In order to provide the Scheduled Castes of Indian society safeguards against exploitation and to promote their social, economic, educational and cultural development, the Commission was set up by the Government of India.
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.
  • By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely- the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) from February, 2004.
  • It consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members. They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About NCSC.
  2. Constitutional provisions.
  3. About Articles 338 and 338A.
  4. Functions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the functions of NCSC.

Sources: PIB.

 

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

U.P. Assembly passes Bill on conversion amid protests:


Context:

Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2021.

  • The Bill seeks to replace the ordinance promulgated in November last year that seeks to curb religious conversions carried out by fraudulent or any other undue means.

Key Provisions:

  1. It makes religious conversion for marriage a non-bailable offence.
  2. The onus will be on the defendant to prove that conversion was not for marriage.
  3. The notice period to the district magistrate for the religious conversion is two months.
  4. In case of conversion done by a woman for the sole purpose of marriage, the marriage would be declared null and void.

Penalties:

  1. Violation of the provisions of the law would invite a jail term of not less than one year extendable to five years with a fine of ₹15,000.
  2. If a minor woman or a woman from the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes communities was converted through the said unlawful means, the jail term would be a minimum of three years and could be extended to 10 years with a fine of ₹25,000.
  3. The Bill also lays down strict action, including cancellation of registration of social organisations conducting mass conversions.

Why this has become a controversial law?

The ordinance, passed in November 2020, comes days after the Allahabad high court said in a verdict (Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case) that 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.

  • The verdict also said earlier court rulings that ‘religious conversion for marriage was unacceptable’ was not good in law.

What critics say?

The law has come under sharp criticism from several legal scholars who had contended that the concept of ‘love jihad’ did not have any constitutional or legal basis.

  • They have pointed to Article 21 of the constitution which guarantees individuals the right to marry a person of one’s choice.
  • Also, under Article 25, freedom of conscience, the practice and conversion of religion of one’s choice including not following any religion, are also guaranteed.

What are the Concerns associated? What are the challenges ahead?

The true danger with this new so-called ‘love jihad’ law lies in its ambiguity.

  • The law employs the use of open-textured phrases such as “undue influence”, “allurement” and “coercion”.
  • Indeed, even the question of whether a religious conversion is truly conducted solely for the purpose of a marriage is inherently vague.
  • It is in the subjective assessment and appreciation of these tenuous phrases that the real peril lies – this is a matter left entirely to the discretion of the judge.

Views of the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of India, in both the Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases, has confirmed that religious conversions carried out without a bona fide belief and for the sole purpose of deriving some legal benefit do not hold water.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Article 21.
  2. Article 25.
  3. What has the Allahabad High Court said in Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case.

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: the Hindu.

 

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

Japan protests after two Chinese coast guard ships enter islands in East China Sea:


Context:

After two Chinese coast guard ships entered waters off the Senkaku islands recently, Japan protested against China’s intrusion in the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.

  • Tensions have escalated between the two countries after Beijing enacted a legislation allowing its coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships that it views illegally entered its waters.

What’s the issue?

Japan and China are locked in a dispute over the islands in the East China Sea which Tokyo calls the Senkakus and Beijing the Diaoyu. The islets are administered by Japan, however, Beijing claims the islands as its own.

What China says?

  • China’s (and Taiwan’s) position is that the Diaoyus have been part of Chinese territory since at least 1534.
  • China argues that Japan seized the features by force during the first Sino-Japanese War that ended with the imposition on China of the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki.
  • It asserts that the Potsdam Declaration that Japan accepted as part of the San Francisco Peace Treaty ending World War II required Tokyo to relinquish control of Taiwan, and that these features are part of Taiwan, which is part of China.

But the US took control of them and in 1971 transferred their administration to Japan under the Okinawa Reversion Agreement.

Status quo:

  • China had more or less accepted the status quo – provided that Japan did not interfere with its fishing boats outside the 12-nautical-mile territorial sea.
  • Then, in 2012, Japan upended the status quo by purchasing the islands from their private Japanese owners, thus nationalising them.
  • Although the government maintained that this was done to keep them out of the hands of radical nationalists, China felt that Japan was opportunistically consolidating its theft of its territory.

Why is the international community worried?

This dispute threatens regional and perhaps world peace because the US – and its allies – could be drawn into a kinetic conflict. In response to pressure from Japan, the US has repeatedly reaffirmed that the features come under the scope of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. South China Sea dispute- regions involved, countries’ claims.
  2. Where are Senkaku Islands?
  3. What is the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951?
  4. China- Taiwan relations.

Mains Link:

How China’s aggressive expansionist policy is being viewed by countries worldwide? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

France slams ‘repression’ of Uighurs:


Context:

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has denounced what he called the “institutionalised repression” of China’s Uighur minority.

What’s the issue?

Rights groups believe that at least 1 million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslim minorities are incarcerated in camps in the western region of Xinjiang. Mr. Le Drian cited Xinjiang among several examples of “considerable regressions for human rights” in 2020.

Who are Uighurs?

  • A Muslim minority community concentrated in China’s northwestern Xinjiang province.
  • They claim closer ethnic ties to Turkey and other central Asian countries than to China.

Why is China targeting the Uighurs?

Xinjiang is technically an autonomous region within China — its largest region, rich in minerals, and sharing borders with eight countries, including India, Pakistan, Russia and Afghanistan.

  • Over the past few decades, as economic prosperity has come to Xinjiang, it has brought with it in large numbers the majority Han Chinese,who have cornered the better jobs, and left the Uighurs feeling their livelihoods and identity were under threat.
  • This led to sporadic violence, in 2009 culminating in a riot that killed 200 people, mostly Han Chinese, in the region’s capital Urumqi. And many other violent incidents have taken place since then.
  • Beijing also says Uighur groups want to establish an independent state and, because of the Uighurs’ cultural ties to their neighbours, leaders fear that elements in places like Pakistan may back a separatist movement in Xinjiang.

Therefore, the Chinese policy seems to have been one of treating the entire community as suspect, and launching a systematic project to chip away at every marker of a distinct Uighur identity.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who are Uighurs?
  2. Where is Xinjiang?
  3. Who are Han Chinese?
  4. Indian states bordering Xinjiang province.

Mains Link:

Who are Uighurs? Why are they in news? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Human Rights Council election:


Context:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has asked UN member states to support the US for its re-election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Background:

Trump regime had taken the U.S. out of the Council in 2018, saying it was biased against Israel and had members who were human rights abusers.

About elections to the UNHRC:

Elections to the Council happen annually, with countries serving for three years on a rotational basis, as some of the seats expire on 31 December every year.

Members shall not be eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms.

There are 47 seats, equitably distributed according to five regional divisions (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe and other States).

  • Countries need a minimum of 97 votes to get elected, and everything happens by secret ballot.

As of January 2020, 117 of the 193 UN member States will have served as a member of the HRC. This broad membership not only reflects the UN’s diversity, but it gives the Council legitimacy when speaking out on human rights violations in all countries.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About UNHRC.
  2. Year of establishment.
  3. Functions.
  4. Key reports of UNHRC.
  5. Elections to UNHRC.
  6. Members, term and eligibility.
  7. How many UN member states have served as UNHRC members at least once?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

‘Monetise or modernise’ is Modi’s mantra for govt. assets:


Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged foreign investors to tap investment opportunities thrown up by the government’s decision to privatise most public sector entities and monetise ‘unutilised and underutilised assets’ such as airports that have an estimated investment potential of ₹2.5 lakh crore.

Need for:

Public assets such as roads, railways, airports, power transmission lines, shipping terminals, pipelines, mobile towers and other land and building, financial assets, e.g., shares, securities and dividend payouts attached with these are spread throughout the country. They are controlled by departments of Central Government, Public sector units or the respective State Government where the asset lies geographically.

Many of these public assets are sub-optimally utilized or are unutilized; which simply means that it is not using its maximum potential which could have been gained by exploiting it commercially at a market valuation.

  • Therefore, speaking the economics way, a government owned asset deriving a net value of Rs 50 crore but having a potential to earn Rs 500 crore will also be termed sub-optimally utilized. Only if we talk about vacant land parcel; it is very huge.

What are the benefits?

  1. The funds raised from the exercise will help empower citizens by building homes for the poor and ensuring clean water reaches all.
  2. This policy goes beyond annual disinvestment targets, to a medium-term strategic approach. This will help create new investment opportunities for industry in every sector.
  3. The private sector can not only bring capital but also introduce global best practices and quality manpower and modernise enterprises.

Challenges:

  1. This is a sensitive decision-making process that needs to take into account the correct valuation of the assets in question, the future infrastructure needs of the country and the private sector’s ability to fulfill the targeted objective.
  2. Equally important is the willingness of the citizens to accept management of public infrastructure in the private hand.
  3. Their grievances; if any needs to be promptly attended to by the operating private player. Otherwise one wrongly gone PPP experience may cause long lasting damage to public perception.

Dialogue is an effective way to build strong public support and dispelling doubts created by a few vested interests.

A successful monetization demands a four step process.

  1. First, the motivation of the policy formulating government should be understood.
  2. Second, a detailed analysis of assets (both operational and financial) is needed.
  3. Third, analyzing the current and future potential of assets.
  4. Fourth, carefully managing all the stakeholders and executing the project with care to deliver the envisioned objective.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  :  4


 

Topics Covered: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

‘Recognise right to silence as a virtue’:


Facebook official Ajit Mohan has urged the Supreme Court to recognise the right to silence as a virtue in these “noisy times”.

He said the right to silence was as important as the right to free speech.

What’s the issue?

  • Mohan has filed a petition against the summons issued to him by a Delhi Legislative Assembly Committee.
  • Mohan had challenged the summons and the threat of breach of privilege posed by the committee in case he failed to come and testify about any role played by social media platforms in the events leading up to the Delhi riots in February last year.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Accredited investor:

  • Also called as qualified investors or professional investors.
  • They are those who have an understanding of various financial products and the risks and returns associated with them.
  • They can take informed decisions regarding their investments and are recognised by many securities and financial market regulators globally.

Why in News?

SEBI moots concept of ‘accredited investor’.

  • It said the accreditation once granted shall be valid for a year.
  • It also said the accreditation may be carried out via ‘Accreditation Agencies’ which may be the market infrastructure institutions or their subsidiaries.

Imran announces $50 mn defence credit line for Lanka:

  • Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a $50 million defence credit line facility for Sri Lanka.
  • Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka is the first to be undertaken by a head of government, after the pandemic hit the world.
  • It was the first visit by the Pakistani Prime Minister since the formation of the new governments in both the countries.

(Note: Details are not necessary).

Ghana first country to receive COVAX vaccines:

Ghana became the first country to receive vaccines under COVAX – an initiative to reduce vaccine disparity between high- and low-income countries – with 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine arriving in the capital Accra.

What is COVAX?

  • COVAX is a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and two international groups – the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) – which aims to send vaccines to developing countries.
  • The majority of its funding has come from high-income countries and international organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM):

  • Launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Based on the three pillars of people, process and platform, the NUDM will create a shared digital infrastructure for urban India.
  • The mission seeks to make urban governance and service delivery citizen-centric and ecosystem-driven in all cities and towns by 2024.
  • Its technology design principles are based on the National Urban Innovation Stack, which was released in 2019.

International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD):

Context:

International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) Symposium on Sustainable Development of Dams & River Basins inaugurated.

  • The International Commission On Large Dams (ICOLD) is a non-governmental International Organization which provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience in dam engineering.
  • ICOLD was founded in 1928 and has National Committees from more than 100 countries with approximately 10000 individual members.
  • The members are mostly practising engineers, geologists and scientists form governmental or private organizations, consulting firms, universities, laboratories and construction companies.
  • ICOLD leads the profession in setting standards and guidelines to ensure that dams are built and operated safely, efficiently, economically, and are environmentally sustainable and socially equitable.
  • It is headquartered in Paris, France.

 

Articles Covered previously:

1. Puducherry: Cabinet gives nod for President’s Rule:

As expected, Puducherry has been placed under President’s rule. There are no new developments on the issue. We have already covered President’s Rule in detail on:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2021/02/23/what-next-in-puducherry-as-narayanasamy-loses-trust-vote/.

2. Cabinet approves PLI plan for pharmaceuticals, IT hardware:

Often in News.

Latest developments:  The Union Cabinet has approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for the pharmaceuticals and IT hardware sectors, entailing an outlay of ₹15,000 crore and ₹7,350 crore, respectively.

For more details on the scheme, refer:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2021/02/18/production-linked-incentive-scheme/.

Please note, in November 2020, the government approved the PLI scheme for 10 key sectors which included:

  1. Advance Chemistry.
  2. Electronic/Technology Products.
  3. Automobiles and components.
  4. Pharmaceuticals drugs.
  5. Telecom and Networking Products.
  6. Textile Products: MMF segment and technical textiles.
  7. Food Products.
  8. High Efficiency Solar PV Modules.
  9. White Goods (ACs & LED).
  10. Speciality Steel.

Regarding the scheme, please concentrate on:

  1. Eligible Sectors.
  2. Minimum and maximum investment limit considered?
  3. What is incremental investment?
  4. Incentives.
  5. Are foreign players eligible?
  6. Overall benefits of the scheme.

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