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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 17 April 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. Plenary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

2. U.S. Treasury keeps India on currency watch list.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. RBI gets applications for ‘on tap’ licences.

2. Iran says it has started enriching uranium to 60%.

3. ‘Whitest ever’ paint that can reflect 99 per cent of sunlight.

4. U.K. nod for extradition of Nirav Modi.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. EatSmart Cities Challenge.

2. Transport 4 All (T4All) Challenge.

3. Gender Samvaad.


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

Plenary jurisdiction of Supreme Court:


Context:

Former law minister Ashwani Kumar has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and other judges of the top court urging them to take note of the worsening COVID-19 situation and issue “suitable directions” to the Centre and State governments to ban political rallies, protest assemblies and religious or festive congregations of more than 50 people.

  • He asked the Supreme Court to issue suitable directions suo-moto in the exercise of its plenary jurisdiction (Under Article 142).

Need for:

It is officially acknowledged and medically confirmed that the life-threatening surge in the number of corona cases, which is highest in the world, is substantially on account of a free run enjoyed by the super-spreading events, including political rallies, religious congregations and festive events. While there may be a case against a complete lockdown, it was essential to put a stop to mass gatherings that spread the COVID-19 infection.

What is 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.

  • Article 142(1) states that “The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe”.

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link:

  1. Examples of invocation of Article 142 by the Supreme Court.
  2. Similar powers to High Courts.
  3. Original vs Appellate jurisdictions.

Mains Link:

“The Supreme Court’s use of its vast powers under Article 142 has done tremendous good to many deprived sections. However, it is time to institute checks and balances.” Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

U.S. Treasury keeps India on currency watch list:


Context: 

The U.S. Treasury has released the report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States. The April 2021 edition of the semi-annual report is the first from the Biden administration.

  • The report is submitted to the U.S. Congress and reviews currency practices of the U.S.’s 20 biggest trading partners.

Three criteria are used to review partners:

  1. A significant (at least $20 billion) bilateral trade surplus.
  2. A material current account surplus.
  3. Persistent one-sided intervention in forex markets.

Highlights of the latest report:

  • India is one of the 11 countries on the ‘Monitoring List’ with regard to their currency practices.
  • India was on the list in the December 2020 report as well.
  • The other 10 countries on the list with India are China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Mexico.
  • India met two of the three criteria — the trade surplus criterion and the “persistent, one-sided intervention” criterion.

What is currency manipulation?

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: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

RBI gets applications for ‘on tap’ licences:


Context:

The Reserve Bank of India has received four applications each for on-tap universal private bank licences and small finance bank licences.

  • This is part of the RBI’s guidelines for such licences released in August 2016 and December 2019 respectively.

Who can apply?

According to the guidelines released by the central bank in August 2016:

Eligible entities seeking universal bank licences must be:

  1. Individuals/entities with at least 10 years of experience in banking and finance at a senior level or private companies or groups with at least 10 years of successful track record.
  2. Groups or companies applying for such licences must have assets of Rs 5,000 crore or above and the non-financial businesses don’t account for 40% or more of these assets.

To be eligible to apply for a small finance bank licence:

  1. Individuals must have at least 10 years of experience in the banking and finance sector at senior levels.
  2. Groups, companies, existing payments banks, non-banking finance companies, microfinance companies, local area banks and cooperative banks applying for these licenses must have at least five years of successful track record.

Background:

In April 2014, the RBI had given in-principle approval to Bandhan Bank Ltd. and IDFC Bank to start universal banking operations. IDFC Bank has since merged with Capital First Ltd. to form IDFC First Bank.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is on tap licensing?
  2. Eligibility for universal bank licence.
  3. Eligibility for a small finance bank licence.
  4. What is universal banking?
  5. What are NBFCs? 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Developments in science and technology.

Iran says it has started enriching uranium to 60%:


Context:

Iran has started enriching its uranium supply to 60 percent purity — the closest the country has ever come to the level needed for a weapon — in response to the sabotage of an Iranian nuclear site last weekend linked to Israel.

What is the goal of uranium enrichment?

Uranium contains a rare radioactive isotope, called U-235, that can be used to power nuclear reactors at low enrichment levels and to fuel nuclear bombs at much higher levels.

  • The goal of uranium enrichment is to raise the percentage levels of U-235, which is often done through the use of centrifuges — machines that spin a form of unrefined uranium at high speeds.

How much enriched uranium does Iran now possess?

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear-monitoring arm of the United Nations, Iran as of February had amassed 2,967.8 kilograms of uranium — roughly 14 times the limit under the nuclear accord and theoretically enough to power about three atomic bombs if refined to weapons grade. The stockpile includes 17.6 kilograms enriched to 20 percent — also forbidden under the accord until the year 2030.

Why does Iran have more enriched uranium now?

After President Donald J. Trump repudiated the Iran deal in 2018, reimposed economic sanctions on Iran and added other penalties, Iran undertook a graduated series of steps away from compliance with the deal to retaliate — increasing its 3.67 percent uranium supply, adding centrifuges, raising uranium purity in some of the supply to 20 percent and restricting international inspectors’ access to some nuclear sites. All the while, the country said these were easily reversible actions.

What’s the concern now?

What makes the 60 percent enrichment level particularly threatening is that the tricky process of enrichment becomes far easier and requires fewer centrifuges as it moves into the higher purities. In other words, getting to 90 percent purity is much easier starting from 20 percent, and easier still starting from 60 percent.

centrifuge

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.

 

Topics Covered: Developments in science and technology.

‘Whitest ever’ paint that can reflect 99 per cent of sunlight:


Context:

US engineers have created what they are calling the whitest paint yet.

How was it created?

The ultra-white paint is made up of barium sulphate, which makes it more white.

  • The paint can keep surfaces 19 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than their ambient surroundings at night. It can also cool surfaces 8 degrees Fahrenheit below their surroundings under strong sunlight during noon hours.
  • This paint may be the closest equivalent to the blackest black paint called “Vantablack” that is able to absorb up to 99.9 per cent of visible light.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Money laundering related issues.

U.K. nod for extradition of Nirav Modi:


Context:

The U.K.’s Home Department has approved the extradition of diamond merchant Nirav Modi to India in connection with the ₹13,758 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.

  • This comes two months after the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London ruled that a prima facie case was made out against him.

What next?

  • The accused now has the legal recourse of approaching the U.K. High Court within 14 days to seek permission for moving an appeal against the Secretary of State’s decision.
  • Unless there is an appeal, a requested person must be extradited within 28 days of the Secretary of State’s decision to order extradition (subject to any appeal).

Fugitive economic offender:

A special court, in December 2019, declared diamond businessman Nirav Modi a fugitive economic offender, on a plea of the Enforcement Directorate.

Definition- Fugitive Economic Offender:

A person can be named an offender under the law if there is an arrest warrant against him or her for involvement in economic offences involving at least Rs. 100 crore or more and has fled from India to escape legal action.

The procedure:

  1. The investigating agencies have to file an application in a Special Court under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act containing details of the properties to be confiscated, and any information about the person’s whereabouts.
  2. The Special Court will issue a notice for the person to appear at a specified place and date at least six weeks from the issue of notice.
  3. Proceedings will be terminated if the person appears. If not the person would be declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender based on the evidence filed by the investigating agencies.
  4. The person who is declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender can challenge the proclamation in the High Court within 30 days of such declaration according to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who is a fugitive economic offender?
  2. Composition and powers of ED.
  3. Establishment and powers of CBI.
  4. What is PMLA?
  5. Overview of Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance and key provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


EatSmart Cities Challenge:

  • Launched by the Housing & Urban Affairs Ministry.
  • The Challenge is envisioned as a competition among cities to recognize their efforts in adopting and scaling up various initiatives under Eat Right India.
  • This unique challenge, in partnership with Smart Cities Mission will create an environment of right food practices and habits, strengthen the food safety and regulatory environment, build awareness among the consumers and urge them to make better food choices in India’s major cities.
  • The challenge is open to all Smart Cities, capital cities of States/UTs, and cities with a population of more than 5 lakh.

Transport 4 All (T4All) Challenge:

  • Launched by the Housing & Urban Affairs Ministry in collaboration with Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).
  • The Challenge aims to bring together cities, citizen groups, and start-ups to develop solutions that improve public transport to better serve the needs of all citizens.
  • All the Smart Cities Mission cities, capitals of states and union territories (UTs), and all cities with a population of over 5 lakhs are eligible for the Challenge.

Gender Samvaad:

  • Gender Samvaad is a joint attempt between the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) and the Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) to create a common platform to share experiences emerging from this effort.
  • The attempt is to generate greater awareness on gender related interventions under DAY-NRLM across the country and best practices, with a focus on hearing voices from the states and the field.

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