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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 06 May 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. What is a lineament?

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Maratha quota unconstitutional, says SC.

2. What is Chhattisgarh’s vaccination policy, and why is it being opposed in court?

3. Scientists see flaws in SUTRA Model.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. RBI measures to protect small and medium businesses from pandemic impact.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG).

2. Global Innovation Partnership (GIP).


GS Paper  :  1


 

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

What is a lineament?


A lineament is a linear feature in a landscape dictated by an underlying geological structure such as a fault.

Context:

According to a recent study, an unfamiliar lineament is one factor behind frequent earthquakes in northern Assam’s Sonitpur area.

Why there are frequent earthquakes in Assam?

According to the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Sonitpur district lies within a tectonically complex triangular area bounded by the east-west trending Atherkhet Fault, the northwest-southeast trending Kopili Fault and a north-south trending lineament.

Why North east is vulnerable?

  1. The Siang Fracture, Yemla Fault, Namula Thrust and Canyon Thrust are spread across the northeast and are active along with Main Himalayan Thrust, Main Boundary Thrust, Main Central Thrust and several subsidiary faults.
  2. The northeast is demarcated as Seismic Zone V, which indicates a zone with high vulnerability.
  3. The Indian plate is moving northeast toward the Eurasian plate in the Himalayan region, their oblique collision and release of stress and strain accumulated in the local tectonic or fault environments lead to earthquakes.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

What is Lineament?

Identify the following:

  1. Atherkhet Fault.
  2. Kopili Fault.
  3. Siang Fracture.
  4. Yemla Fault.
  5. Namula Thrust.
  6. Canyon Thrust.

Mains Link:

Discuss why North Eastern India is highly vulnerable to earthquakes.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

Maratha quota unconstitutional, says SC:


Context:

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has struck down the Maharashtra law granting reservation to the Maratha community in admissions and government jobs in the state.

What was the law?

  • In November 2018, the Maratha community was given the reservation under the Maharashtra State Socially and Educational Backward Act.
  • The special act was sanctioned by Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission and approved in both the assembly and council.
  • The Maratha reservation of 12 and 13 per cent (in education and jobs) had increased the overall reservation ceiling to 64 per cent and 65 per cent, respectively.

Judicial Intervention:

Initially, the reservation under SEBC was challenged by a PIL in Bombay High Court. The Bombay High Court while upholding the reservation pointed that instead of 16 per cent it should be reduced to 12 per cent in education and 13 per cent in jobs.

  • Accordingly, the Act was implemented with Maratha students availing the quota in educational institutions and jobs.
  • In September 9, 2020 the Maratha reservation confronted another hurdle as Supreme Court stayed its implementation and refer the case to Chief Justice of India for larger bench.

1992 Indira Sawhney Judgment:

In 1992 landmark ruling in Indra Sawhney v Union of India, in which the Mandal Commission report was upheld, the Court laid down two important precedents.

  1. First, it said that the criteria for a group to qualify for reservation is “social and educational backwardness”.
  2. Second, it reiterated the 50% limit to vertical quotas reasoning that it was needed to ensure “efficiency” in administration. However, the court said that this 50% limit will apply unless in “exceptional circumstances.”

What were the issues? Why was the Maratha Quota law it struck down?

  • The Maratha quota exceeded the 50% ceiling.
  • The Court held that a separate reservation for the Maratha community violated Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (due process of law).

Maharashtra Government’s arguments:

  • The Indra Sawhney verdict must be referred to a 11-judge Bench for reconsideration since it laid down an arbitrary ceiling which the Constitution does not envisage.
  • Additionally, in some judgements subsequent to Indra Sawhney, the Supreme Court itself had made exceptions to this rule.

What has the Court said on revisiting the 1992 judgment?

The court held that there is no need to revisit the case. The court said that the 50% ceiling, although an arbitrary determination by the court in 1992, is now constitutionally recognised.

Why this can’t be an exceptional case?

The Marathas are dominant forward class and are in the main stream of National life. Hence, the court observed that the above situation is not an extra-ordinary.

What has the court said on state’s power to identify SEBCs, and 102nd Amendment?

The Constitution (One Hundred and Second Amendment) Act, 2018 gives constitutional status to the National Backward Classes Commission.

The Amendment also gives the President powers to notify backward classes.

Several states raised questions on the interpretation of the Amendment and argued that it curtails their powers.

  • However, the Bench unanimously upheld the constitutional validity of the 102nd Amendment.
  • The majority opinion also said that while the identification of SEBCs will be done centrally, state governments retain power to determine the extent of reservation and make specific policy in the spirit of “cooperative federalism”.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act.
  2. About Maratha Quota law.
  3. What is 9th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  4. Indira Sawhney Judgment.

Mains Link:

Discuss the implications of recent Supreme Court judgment in Maratha Quota law.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

What is Chhattisgarh’s vaccination policy, and why is it being opposed in court?


Context:

Chhattisgarh High Court is hearing intervention applications filed by politicians and lawyers against the state government’s vaccination policy.

  • As per the policy, the state government will administer the vaccines based on the economic situation of the citizens.

Highlights of the Vaccination Policy:

Under this, vaccination of people between 18-44 years of age would be held in three stages.

  1. Firstly, the Antyodaya Card holders are to be vaccinated.
  2. Followed by the BPL card holders.
  3. Then the APL card holders.

Need for sub-classification?

  • Because of the limited number of vaccines available to the state.
  • Besides, lack of education, access to internet, smart phone make it harder for the poor to receive benefits.

Also, since the Antyodaya Group who are residing mostly in the remote areas and who are rather illiterate or not knowing anything much about the Covid-19 pandemic, symptoms, complications, necessity to register in the portal and as to the infrastructure, are moving around quite freely which spreads the disease much faster.

Points raised against the state’s vaccination policy:

  • This sub-classification is beyond the constitutional mandate and is patently in violation of the law of equality and the equal opportunity before law.
  • It discriminates citizens with reference to their right to life.

What did the High Court ask the state to do next?

  1. Fix a reasonable ratio of allotment of vaccines.
  2. A Scheme has to be formulated by the State by earmarking appropriate share of the vaccines to them as well.
  3. Set up ‘Help Desks’ providing spot registration and to administer vaccines to them.

Who is an Antyodaya card holder?

Antyodaya Anna Yojana was a Union government scheme in which “poorest of the poor” were identified and given a yellow ration card, which indicated that they were to be given rice, wheat and other ration items at heavily subsidised rates.

  • Families with annual income less than Rs 15,000, senior citizens with no support, widows and unemployed persons also fall in this category.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Scientists see flaws in SUTRA Model:


Context:

Questions are being raised by many scientists on whether a government-backed model, called SUTRA, to forecast the rise and ebb of the COVID-19 pandemic, may have had an outsized role in creating the perception that a catastrophic second wave was unlikely in India.

What is SUTRA model?

SUTRA (Susceptible, Undetected, Tested (positive), and Removed Approach) first came into public attention when one of its expert members announced in October that India was “past its peak”.

The model uses three main parameters to predict the course of the pandemic which are:

  1. Beta: Also called contact rate, which measures how many people an infected person infects per day. It is related to the R0 value, which is the number of people an infected person spreads the virus to over the course of their infection.
  2. Reach: It is a measure of the exposure level of the population to the pandemic.
  3. Epsilon: It is the ratio of detected and undetected cases.

Why questions are being raised now?

  1. Incorrect prediction: The model said a “second wave” would peak by the third week of April and stay around 1 lakh cases.
  2. Too many parameters: The SUTRA model was problematic as it relied on too many parameters, and recalibrated those parameters whenever its predictions “broke down”.
  3. Omission of the importance of the behaviour of the virus.
  4. The fact that some people were bigger transmitters of the virus than others (say a barber or a receptionist more than someone who worked from home).
  5. A lack of accounting for social or geographic heterogeneity.
  6. Not stratifying the population by age as it didn’t account for contacts between different age groups also undermined its validity.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link and Mains Link:

Features and issues surrounding SUTRA Model.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  3


 

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

RBI measures to protect small and medium businesses from pandemic impact:


Context:

The Reserve Bank of India has announced measures to protect small and medium businesses and individual borrowers from the adverse impact of the intense second wave of COVID-19 buffeting the country.

Measures announced:

  1. The RBI has decided to conduct special three-year long-term repo operations (SLTRO) of ₹10,000 crore at the repo rate for Small Finance Banks. The SFBs would be able to deploy these funds for fresh lending of up to ₹10 lakh per borrower.
  2. SFBs are now being permitted to reckon fresh lending to smaller MFIs (with asset size of up to ₹500 crore) for onlending to individual borrowers as priority sector lending.
  3. To enable the State governments to better manage their fiscal situation in terms of their cash flows and market borrowings, maximum number of days of overdraft (OD) in a quarter is being increased from 36 to 50 days and the number of consecutive days of OD from 14 to 21 days.

Who is eligible?

  1. Those with aggregate exposure of up to ₹25 crore, who had not availed restructuring under any of the earlier restructuring frameworks (including under last year’s resolution framework), and whose loans were classified as ‘standard’ as on March 31, 2021, were eligible for restructuring under the proposed framework.
  2. In respect of individual borrowers and small businesses who had already availed restructuring under Resolution Framework 1.0, lenders have been permitted to use this window to modify such plans to the extent of increasing the period of moratorium and/or extending the residual tenor up to a total of two years.
  3. In respect of small businesses and MSMEs restructured earlier, lending institutions have been permitted as a one-time measure, to review the working capital sanctioned limits, based on a reassessment of the working capital cycle and margins.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG):

  • Launched in 2020, it comprises 10 labs.
  • The overall aim of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium is to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.
  • This vital research consortium will also assist in developing potential vaccines in the future.

Global Innovation Partnership (GIP):

Cabinet gives ex-post facto approval to MoU between India and UK on Global Innovation Partnership (GIP).

  • GIP will support Indian innovators to scale up their innovations in third countries thereby helping them explore new markets and become self-sustainable.
  • GIP innovations will focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) related sectors thereby assisting recipient countries achieve their SDGs.
  • Through seed funding, grants, investments and technical assistance, the Partnership will support Indian entrepreneurs and innovators to test, scale up and take their innovative development solutions to select developing countries.
  • GIP will also develop an open and inclusive e-market place (E-BAAZAR) for cross border innovation transfer and will focus on results based impact assessment thereby promoting transparency and accountability.

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