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.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 1:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
1. Facebook’s Oversight Board.
2. Dahla Dam.
GS Paper : 1
Topics Covered: Geography.
Scientists have obtained new data about Venus by bouncing radio waves off Venus.
- The researchers transmitted radio waves toward Venus 21 times from 2006 to 2020 from NASA’s Goldstone Antenna in the Mojave Desert of California and studied the radio echo, which provided information on certain planetary traits.
- The study measured the tilt of the Venusian axis and size of the planet’s core.
- A single Venusian rotation takes 243.0226 Earth days. That means a day lasts longer than a year on Venus, which makes a complete orbit around the sun in 225 Earth days.
- The Venusian planetary core has a diameter of about 4,360 miles (7,000 km), comparable to Earth’s core.
- The study calculated the Venusian tilt at about 2.64 degrees. Earth’s is about 23.5 degrees.
- Venus, the second planet from the sun, is similar in structure but slightly smaller than Earth.
- Above its foreboding landscape is a thick and toxic atmosphere that consists primarily of carbon dioxide, with clouds of sulfuric acid droplets.
- With a runaway greenhouse effect, its surface temperatures reach 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 degrees Celsius), hot enough to melt lead.
- Venus is one of just two planets that rotate from east to west. Only Venus and Uranus have this “backwards” rotation.
- In another quirk, its day-night cycle – the time between sunrises as opposed to the length of a single axial spin – takes 117 Earth days because Venus rotates in the direction opposite of its orbital path around the sun.
- Key facts related to Venus.
- Why is it called earth’s twin?
- Latest findings.
- What are radio waves?
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
The Supreme court has declined a plea made by the Election Commission of India to restrain the media from reporting oral remarks made by a Division Bench of the Madras High court.
What’s the issue?
The HC judges had said that poll body officials should be charged with “murder” for allowing rallies and mass gatherings during the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. The judges had remarked that the EC was solely responsible for the COVID surge.
Observations made by the Supreme Court:
- Real-time reportage of court proceedings, including the oral exchanges in courtrooms between judges and lawyers, is part of the right to freedom of speech.
- With the advent of technology, we are seeing reporting proliferate through social media forums which provide real-time updates to a much wider audience. This is an extension of the freedom of speech and expression that the media possesses. This constitutes a virtual extension of the open court.
- Such live reporting of court proceedings is a cause of celebration rather than apprehension.
- Except in cases of child sexual abuse and marital issues, the phenomenon of free press should extend to court proceedings.
- The court said oral observations made during the course of a hearing do not bind the parties and do not form a part of the judgment. An exchange of views was intrinsic to the applicability of mind and the process of judging. .
- On the nature of the remarks made by the Madras HC, the apex court said “a degree of caution and circumspection would have allayed the problems in the present case.
Need of the hour:
We must emphasise the need for judges to exercise caution in off-the-cuff remarks in open court, which may be susceptible to misinterpretation. Language, both on the Bench and in judgments, must comport with judicial propriety. Language is an important instrument of a judicial process which is sensitive to constitutional values.
- Division of powers between SC and HC.
- Writ petitions.
- Appeals against HC verdicts.
Madras High Court had said that poll body officials should be charged with “murder” for allowing rallies and mass gatherings during the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. Comment.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has refused to ban cryptocurrency transactions.
- Further, it has put the onus on banks whether to ban transactions of cryptocurrency trades or not. It told banks to take a decision based on the advice of their legal and compliance departments.
What is NPCI?
- The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) serves as an umbrella body for the operation of retail payment in India.
- This organization was established by the Reserve Bank of India along with the Indian Bank’s Association under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
- Presently, NPCI is promoted by ten major promoter banks.
NPCI can operate the following payment systems:
- National Financial Switch (NFS).
- Immediate Payment System (IMPS).
- Affiliation of RuPay Cards (debit cards/ prepaid cards) issued by banks and co-branded credit cards issued by non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) or any other entity approved by the RBI.
- National Automatic Clearing House (ACH).
- Aadhaar Enabled Payments System (AEPS).
- Operation of Cheque Truncation System.
Products of NPCI:
- National Common Mobility Card.
- Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM).
- Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
- Bharat Bill Payment System.
Why has it refused to ban cryptocurrency trades?
NPCI’s decision is based on the Supreme Court’s March 2020 ruling which set aside a directive by the Reserve Bank of India from April 2018 to ban banks and finance companies for “dealing in virtual currencies or providing services to facilitate” anyone trading in crypto.
- NCPI has not blocked the trades given that the RBI did not come out with any directive following the Supreme Court ruling.
What is a cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.
It works on blockchain technology.
Examples: Bitcoin, Ethereum etc.
Why is it in demand?
- Funds transfer between two parties will be easy without the need of third party like credit/debit cards or banks.
- It is a cheaper alternative compared to other online transactions.
- Payments are safe and secured and offer an unprecedented level of anonymity.
- Modern cryptocurrency systems come with a user “wallet” or account address which is accessible only by a public key and pirate key.
- The private key is only know to the owner of the wallet.
- Funds transfer are completed with minimal processing fees.
- The almost hidden nature of cryptocurrency transactions makes them easy to be the focus of illegal activities such as money laundering, tax-evasion and possibly even terror-financing.
- Payments are not irreversible.
- Cryptocurrencies are not accepted everywhere and have limited value elsewhere
- There is concern that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are not rooted in any material goods. Some research, however, has identified that the cost of producing a Bitcoin, which requires an increasingly large amount of energy, is directly related to its market price.
- Various cryptocurrencies.
- Cryptocurrencies launched by various countries.
- What is Blockchain technology?
- About NPCI.
What are Cryptocurrencies? Why is there a need for regulation? Discuss.
Sources: Indian Express.
Topics Covered: IP Related issues.
The United States has announced support for waiving intellectual property protection for Covid-19 vaccines, saying extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.
- The US will pursue “text-based negotiations” on the waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
What are Text-based negotiations?
They involve negotiators exchanging texts with their preferred wording and then thrashing out a consensus on the working — a fairly long-drawn affair.
What does the intellectual property waiver for Covid-19 vaccines mean?
The IP waiver might open up space for production of Covid vaccines with emergency use authorisations (EUA) — such as those developed by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Bharat Biotech — on a larger scale in middle-income countries.
- Most production is currently concentrated in high-income countries; production by middle-income countries has been happening through licensing or technology transfer agreements.
What was the earlier proposal from India and South Africa?
In October 2020, India and South Africa had asked the WTO to waive certain conditions of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement that could impede timely access to affordable medical products to combat Covid-19.
- The countries had asked the TRIPS Council to recommend, “as early as possible”, a waiver on the implementation, application and enforcement of four sections in the second part of the agreement.
- These sections — 1, 4, 5, and 7 — pertain to copyright and related rights, industrial designs, patents, and the protection of undisclosed information.
What are patents and IP rights?
A patent represents a powerful intellectual property right, and is an exclusive monopoly granted by a government to an inventor for a limited, pre-specified time. It provides an enforceable legal right to prevent others from copying the invention.
Patents can be either process patents or product patents:
- A product patent ensures that the rights to the final product is protected, and anyone other than the patent holder can be restrained from manufacturing it during a specified period, even if they were to use a different process.
- A process patent enables any person other than the patent holder to manufacture the patented product by modifying certain processes in the manufacturing exercise.
Patent regime in India:
India moved from product patenting to process patenting in the 1970s, which enabled India to become a significant producer of generic drugs at global scale, and allowed companies like Cipla to provide Africa with anti-HIV drugs in the 1990s.
- But due to obligations arising out of the TRIPS Agreement, India had to amend the Patents Act in 2005, and switch to a product patents regime across the pharma, chemicals, and biotech sectors.
- What is TRIPS?
- Indian Patents Act, 2005.
- Patent regime in India.
- What is compulsory Licensing?
Write a note on compulsory Licensing.
Sources: Indian Express.
Facts for Prelims:
Facebook’s Oversight Board:
- The Oversight Board has been set up as an independent body that will help Facebook figure out what content can be allowed on the platform and what ought to be removed.
- Facebook as well as its users can refer cases to the board. The decisions of the board are binding on Facebook.
- It was announced in 2018 and it officially began its work on October 22, 2020.
- In order to ensure the board’s independence, Facebook established an irrevocable trust with $130 million in initial funding, expected to cover operational costs for over half a decade.
- Anyone can nominate a candidate for board membership, through a recommendations portal operated by the U.S. law firm Baker McKenzie.
Why in News?
Facebook’s Oversight Board has upheld the social media network’s decision on January 7 to block the then-U.S. President Donald Trump from its platform.
- It is Afghanistan’s second-biggest dam.
- The Taliban has captured it after months of fierce fighting.
- It is located in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
- The Dahla Dam is built on the Arghandab River.
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