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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 18 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 2:

1. West Bengal government to set up a Legislative Council.

2. Appoint ECI members via collegium.

3. Why and how of creating a district?

4. The diplomatic immunity.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Why are monoclonal antibody therapies in focus & how they work?

2. How does 2-DG, DRDO’s new oral drug for Covid-19, work?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Sulawesi.

2. ELDERLINE.

3. SAMVEDNA.


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

West Bengal government to set up a Legislative Council:


Context:

The West Bengal government will set up a Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad), as per a decision taken up at the recent Cabinet meeting.

What next?

For setting up the Council, a Bill has to be introduced in the Assembly and then a nod from the Governor is required. The Upper House existed till 1969.

What are the Legislative Councils, and why are they important?

India has a bicameral system i.e., two Houses of Parliament. At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly; that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.

How is a legislative council created?

Under Article 169 of the constitution, Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority.

Strength of the house:

As per article 171 clause (1) of the Indian Constitution, the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall not exceed one third of the total number of the members in the legislative Assembly of that state and the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall in no case be less than 40.

How are members of the Council elected?

  1. 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly.
  2. 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state.
  3. 1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers.
  4. 1/12th by registered graduates.
  5. The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Legislative Council- creation and abolition.
  2. Role of state governments.
  3. Composition.
  4. Powers.
  5. Comparison with Legislative Assembly.
  6. States having legislative councils.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for having a state legislative council.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Appoint ECI members via collegium:


Context:

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking the constitution of an independent collegium to appoint members of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

  • The petition was filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms.

Need for an independent collegium:

The petition states that the present process of appointing members to the Election Commission, solely by the executive, is incompatible with Article 324(2) of the Constitution.

  • The appointment of members of Election Commission on the “pick and choose” of the executive violates the very foundation for which it was created, thus, making the Commission a branch of executive.

Need of the hour:

Democracy is a facet of the basic structure of the constitution and in order to ensure free and fair elections and to maintain healthy democracy in our country, the Election Commission should be insulated from political and/or executive interference.

Recommendations given by various expert committees:

  1. 255th Law Commission Report recommended that the appointment of all the Election Commissioner should be made by the President in consultation with a three-member collegium or selection committee, consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
  2. 4th Report submitted by the Second Administrative Reform Commission in January 2007 also recommended for the constitution of a neutral and independent collegium headed by the Prime Minister with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Law Minister and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha as it’s members.
  3. Dr. Dinesh Goswami Committee in its Report of May 1990 recommended for the effective consultation with neutral authorities like Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition for the appointment in Election Commission.
  4. Justice Tarkunde Committee in its Report of 1975 recommended that the members of Election Commission should be appointed by the President on the advice of a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

Present System of Appointment

Constitutional versus Executive Power of Appointment:

There is no prescribed procedure for appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners as per the constitution.

  1. At present, the President shall appoint the CEC and EC based on the recommendations made by the Prime Minister. Therefore, it is the executive power of the President to appoint CEC and ECs.
  2. However, according to Article 324(5), the Parliament has the power to regulate the terms of conditions of service and tenure of ECs.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About CEC and ECs.
  2. Appointment.
  3. Removal.
  4. Tenure.
  5. Functions.
  6. Related constitutional provisions.
  7. Powers of Parliament to regulate their appointments.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for having an independent collegium to appoint members of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Why and how of creating a district?


Context:

Malerkotla recently became the 23rd district in Punjab.

How are new districts carved?

  • The power to create new districts or alter or abolish existing districts rests with the State governments.
  • This can either be done through an executive order or by passing a law in the State Assembly.
  • Many States prefer the executive route by simply issuing a notification in the official gazette.

How does it help?

States argue that smaller districts lead to better administration and governance. For example, in 2016, the Assam government issued a notification to upgrade the Majuli sub-division to Majuli district for “administrative expediency”.

Does the Central government have a role to play here?

The Centre has no role to play in the alteration of districts or creation of new ones. States are free to decide.

The Home Ministry comes into the picture when a State wants to change the name of a district or a railway station.

  • The State government’s request is sent to other departments and agencies such as the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Intelligence Bureau, Department of Posts, Geographical Survey of India Sciences and the Railway Ministry seeking clearance. A no-objection certificate may be issued after examining their replies.

What has been the trend?

According to the 2011 Census, there were 593 districts in the country.

  • The Census results showed that between 2001-2011, as many as 46 districts were created by States.
  • Though the 2021 Census is yet to happen, Know India, a website run by the Government of India, says currently there are 718 districts in the country.
  • The surge in number is also due to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into A.P. and Telangana in 2014. Telangana at present has 33 districts and A.P. has 13 districts.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Creation of a new district- procedure.
  2. Roles of state and central government’s.
  3. Procedure to rename a district.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

The diplomatic immunity:


Context:

After she allegedly hit two staff members at a boutique in Seoul last month, the wife of Belgium’s ambassador to South Korea will now be exercising her diplomatic immunity to avoid criminal charges.

  • The incident has since sparked anger in South Korea, with debates rife over the extent of protection enjoyed by diplomats and their family members.

What is diplomatic immunity?

It is a privilege of exemption from certain laws and taxes granted to diplomats by the country in which they are posted.

The custom was formed so that diplomats can function without fear, threat or intimidation from the host country.

Diplomatic immunity is granted on the basis of two conventions:

  1. Popularly called the Vienna Conventions — the Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961.
  2. The Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.

They have been ratified by 187 countries, which means, it is a law under that country’s legal framework and cannot be violated.

What is the extent of this immunity?

According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, the immunity enjoyed by a diplomat posted in the embassy is “inviolable”.

  • The diplomat cannot be arrested or detained and his house will have the same inviolability and protection as the embassy.

Exceptions:

It is possible for the diplomat’s home country to waive immunity but this can happen only when the individual has committed a ‘serious crime’, unconnected with their diplomatic role or has witnessed such a crime. Alternatively, the home country may prosecute the individual.

What are the Concerns?

While diplomatic immunity is intended to “insulate” diplomats from harm, it does not insulate their countries from a bad reputation and a blow to bilateral ties.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is diplomatic immunity?
  2. Types.
  3. Eligibility.
  4. Exceptions.
  5. The Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961.
  6. The Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.

Mains Link:

What is diplomatic immunity? What is the need for it? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Biotechnology related issues.

Why are monoclonal antibody therapies in focus & how they work?


Context:

India is facing shortages of the two monoclonal antibody therapies — Itolizumab and Tocilizumab.

  • In this article, we shall understand what are antibodies and monoclonal antibodies.

What are Monoclonal antibodies?

They are artificially created antibodies that aim to aid the body’s natural immune system.

They target a specific antigen — a protein from the pathogen that induces immune response.

How are they created?

Monoclonal antibodies can be created in the lab by exposing white blood cells to a particular antigen.

To increase the quantity of antibodies produced, a single white blood cell is cloned, which in turn is used to create identical copies of the antibodies.

  • In the case of Covid-19, scientists usually work with the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which facilitates the entry of the virus into the host cell.

Need for monoclonal antibodies:

In a healthy body, the immune system is able to create antibodies — tiny Y-shaped proteins in our blood that recognise microbial enemies and bind to them, signalling the immune system to then launch an attack on the pathogen.

However, for people whose immune systems are unable to make sufficient amounts of these antibodies, scientists provide a helping hand- using monoclonal antibodies.

History:

The idea of delivering antibodies to treat a disease dates as far back as the 1900s, when Nobel-prize winning German immunologist Paul Ehrlich proposed the idea of a ‘Zauberkugel‘ (magic bullet), a compound which selectively targets a pathogen.

  • From then, it took eight decades of research to finally arrive at Muromonab-CD3, the world’s first monoclonal antibody to be approved for clinical use in humans.
  • Muromonab-CD3 is an immunosuppressant drug given to reduce acute rejection in patients with organ transplants.

Applications:

Monoclonal antibodies are now relatively common. They are used in treating Ebola, HIV, psoriasis etc.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are antibodies?
  2. What are monoclonal antibodies?
  3. How they are created?
  4. Applications.

Sources: the Print.

 

Topics Covered: Indigenization of technology.

How does 2-DG, DRDO’s new oral drug for Covid-19, work?


Context:

The first batch of the indigenously developed anti-Covid-19 drug, 2-deoxy-D-glucose or ‘2-DG’, has been released.

Background:

Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), had cleared the formulation on May 1 for emergency use as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe Covid-19 patients.

About 2- DG:

2-DG has been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), New Delhi, a lab of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Hyderabad-based pharma company Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL).

How it works?

  • The drug accumulates in virus-infected cells, and prevents the growth of the virus by stopping viral synthesis and energy production.
  • Its selective accumulation in virally-infected cells makes this drug unique.

Benefits:

  • The molecule helps in faster recovery of patients hospitalised with Covid-19, and reduces their dependence on supplemental oxygen.
  • 2-DG being a generic molecule and an analogue of glucose, it can be easily produced and made available in large quantities.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About 2- DG.
  2. How it works?

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues involved in development and administration of vaccines in India.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Sulawesi:

Researchers have reported that Pleistocene-era rock paintings dating back to 45,000-20,000 years ago in cave sites in southern Sulawesi, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, are weathering at an alarming rate.

  • The artwork in the area includes what is believed to be the world’s oldest hand stencil (almost 40,000 years ago), created by pressing the hand on a cave wall, and spraying wet red-mulberry pigments over it.
  • A nearby cave features the world’s oldest depiction of an animal, a warty pig painted on the wall 45,500 years ago.
  • The cave art of Sulawesi is much older than the prehistoric cave art of Europe.

Reasons:

The artwork made with pigments was decaying due to a process known as haloclasty, which is triggered by the growth of salt crystals due to repeated changes in temperature and humidity, caused by alternating wet and dry weather in the region.

ELDERLINE:

  • The Ministry of Social Justice has started state-wise call centres in five major states to address the problems faced by elderly people in the wake of the covid pandemic.
  • The toll free helpline for elderly persons called ELDERLINE is expected to become operational in all states by the end of May 2021.
  • The states covered are Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan. It was already working in Telangana since one year.
  • The toll free number by which the call centres can be reached is 14567.

SAMVEDNA:

  • SAMVEDNA tele counselling service is for psychological support to children to address their stress, anxiety, fear and other issues during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The service is provided by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
  • The service was launched in September 2020 and is available in various regional languages.
  • SAMVEDNA is an acronym for ‘Sensitizing Action on Mental Health Vulnerability through Emotional Development and Necessary Acceptance’.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Is India’s Palestine policy evolving?

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