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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 26 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. 

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. Total lunar eclipse and supermoon.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Panel to define offences of speech, expression.

2. One Stop Centre Scheme.

3. China denounces people’s tribunal in Britain on alleged Xinjiang abuses.

4. Blinken promises support for Gaza.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. High levels of mercury found in rivers linked to the Greenland Ice Sheet.

2. The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

 

GS Paper 4:

1. Plane wedding: DGCA must take action, say experts.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS-TS).

2. WHO BioHub initiative.

3. Miniature sculpture of the Buddha found in Udupi.


GS Paper  :  1


 

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena.

Total lunar eclipse and supermoon:


Context:

Two celestial events- the Supermoon and a total lunar eclipse- will be observed on May 26.

What is a supermoon?

A supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest to the Earth at the same time that the Moon is full. In a typical year, there may be two to four full supermoons and two to four new supermoons in a row.

  • Please note: As the Moon orbits the Earth, there is a point of time when the distance between the two is the least (called the perigee when the average distance is about 360,000 km from the Earth) and a point of time when the distance is the most (called the apogee when the distance is about 405,000 km from the Earth).

Why does the moon appear to be red during the event on May 26?

Because of the total lunar eclipse, the moon will also appear to be red. This is because the Earth will block some of the light from the Sun from reaching the moon and as the Earth’s atmosphere filters the light, it will soften “the edge of our planet’s shadow” “giving the Moon a deep, rosy glow.”

 

InstaCurious:

  • Now you know Supermoon & Bloodmoon – But have you ever heard about ‘Harvest Moon’ & ‘Blue Moon’? Read NASA article Here
  • Also try to understand Impact of Moonlight on Earth – Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a Supermoon?
  2. Differences between supermoon and blood moon?
  3. What is a lunar eclipse?
  4. What is Solar eclipse?
  5. Differences between Solar and lunar eclipses?
  6. Sun and moon’s perigees and apogees.
  7. Why does the moon appear to be red during some celestial events?

Mains Link:

  1. How can Supermoon impact tides around the world and India?

Sources: Indian Express.


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topics Covered: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Panel to define offences of speech, expression:


Context:

As there is no clear definition of what constitutes a “hate speech” in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws is attempting for the first time to define such speech.

  • The committee is expected to submit its report soon.

Has it been defined anywhere else?

The Bureau of Police Research and Development recently published a manual for investigating agencies on cyber harassment cases that defined hate speech as a “language that denigrates, insults, threatens or targets an individual based on their identity and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc.).”

Need for a standard definition:

Legally speaking, for criminal Sections to be invoked, any hate speech has to lead to violence or disturbance of law and order. However, even merely criticising someone is being termed hate speech. This is happening as there is no proper definition for this.

About the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws:

In 2019, the Home Ministry decided to overhaul the IPC, framed in 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) after seeking suggestions from States, the Supreme Court, High Courts, the Bar Council of India, Bar Councils of States, universities and law institutes on comprehensive amendments to criminal laws.

  • The committee thus formed is examining a gamut of subjects pertaining to reforms in the IPC.
  • The committee has decided that instead of ad hoc changes, all the pending issues such as those on hate speech as recommended by the Viswanathan committee can be examined and comprehensive changes are brought in.

What are the factors giving rise to hate speech?

The primary reason for the propagation of hate speech by individuals is that they believe in stereotypes that are ingrained in their minds and these stereotypes lead them to believe that a class or group of persons are inferior to them and as such cannot have the same rights as them.

  • The stubbornness to stick to a particular ideology without caring for the right to co-exist peacefully adds further fuel to the fire of hate speech.

Hate speech threatens two key doctrines of democracy:

  1. The guarantee of equal dignity to all.
  2. The public good of inclusiveness.

What should be the criteria to identify hate speech?

  • The extremity of the speech.
  • Incitement
  • Status of the author of the speech.
  • Status of victims of the speech.
  • Potentiality of the speech.
  • Context of the Speech.

The penal provisions which relate to this aspect are as follows:

  1. Sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) punish acts that cause enmity and hatred between two groups.
  2. Section 295A of the IPC deal with punishing acts which deliberately or with malicious intention outrage the religious feelings of a class of persons.
  3. Sections 505(1) and 505(2) make the publication and circulation of content which may cause ill-will or hatred between different groups an offence.
  4. Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 (RPA) prevents a person convicted of the illegal use of the freedom of speech from contesting an election.
  5. Sections 123(3A) and 125 of the RPA bar the promotion of animosity on the grounds of race, religion, community, caste, or language in reference to elections and include it under corrupt electoral practices.

 

InstaCurious:

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Has hate speech been defined under the IPC?
  2. Regulatory provisions related to hate speech.
  3. Exceptions to freedom of speech under article 19.
  4. Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 (RPA).
  5. Relevant Supreme Court judgments related to hate speeches.

Mains Link:

Why there is a need to define hate speech? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

One Stop Centre Scheme:


Context:

The Central government will set up One Stop Centres (OSCs) across 10 missions to provide assistance to Indian women who are survivors of gender-based violence.

  • The missions where the OSCs will come up are Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada and Singapore.

About the scheme:

Popularly known as Sakhi, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has formulated this Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

It is a sub – scheme of Umbrella Scheme for National Mission for Empowerment of women.

Target group: The OSC will support all women including girls below 18 years of age affected by violence, irrespective of caste, class, religion, region, sexual orientation or marital status.

The Centres will be integrated with a Women Helpline to facilitate access to following services:

  1. Emergency response and rescue services.
  2. Medical assistance.
  3. Assistance to women in lodging the FIR.
  4. Psycho- social support and counselling.
  5. Legal aid and counselling.
  6. Shelter.
  7. Video conferencing facility.

Funds:

The Scheme will be funded through Nirbhaya Fund. The Central Government will provide 100% financial assistance to the State Government /UT Administrations under the Scheme.

Need for protection:

  1. Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a global health, human rights and development issue that transcends geography, class, culture, age, race and religion to affect every community and country in every corner of the world.
  2. The Article 1 of UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence 1993 provides a definition of gender – based abuse, calling it “any act of gender – based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
  3. In India, gender based violence has many manifestations; from the more universally prevalent forms of domestic and sexual violence including rape, to harmful practices such as, dowry, honour killings, acid attacks, witch – hunting, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, child marriage, sex selective abortion, sati etc.

 

InstaCurious:

  • You should know which international organisations & campaigns are involved in addressing domestic violence against women. Click Here for such a list.
  • Also briefly know about COVID & violence against women – Click Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Objectives of the scheme.
  2. Features of the scheme.
  3. Funding.
  4. What is Nirbhaya Fund?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the scheme and how our policies are aligned with International strategy to fight violence against women.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

China denounces people’s tribunal in Britain on alleged Xinjiang abuses:


Context:

China has denounced plans for a people’s tribunal in Britain on allegations of genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim people in China’s Xinjiang region.

What’s the issue?

  • Xinjiang has become a major foreign policy headache for China, which is accused of locking up more than a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in re-education camps where they are forced to denounce their traditional culture and swear fealty to China’s ruling Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping.
  • Women from the region have also testified that they have been forced to undergo contraceptive measures, children have allegedly been taken from their incarcerated parents and claims of forced labor have prompted multinational companies to cut ties with Xinjiang’s key cotton industry.

China’s response on these allegations:

China says it has merely been providing job training and counseling to de-radicalize those influenced by jihadist propaganda following years of violent outbursts against Chinese rule in the region.

About the tribunal and its implications:

  • The tribunal does not have government backing.
  • It is to be chaired by prominent lawyer Geoffrey Nice, who led the prosecution of ex-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and worked with the International Criminal Court.
  • While the tribunal’s judgment is not binding on any government, organizers hope the process of publicly laying out evidence will compel international action to tackle the alleged abuses in Xinjiang.

Who are Uighurs?

The Uighurs are a predominantly Muslim minority Turkic ethnic group, whose origins can be traced to Central and East Asia.

The Uighurs speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.

  • China recognises the community only as a regional minority and rejects that they are an indigenous group.
  • Currently, the largest population of the Uighur ethnic community lives in the Xinjiang region of China.
  • A significant population of Uighurs also lives in the neighbouring Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Uighur Muslims for decades, under the false accusation by the Chinese government of terrorism and separatism, have suffered from abuses including persecution, forced detention, intense scrutiny, surveillance and even slavery.

 

InstaCurious:

  • Do you know what is ‘Sinicization’? Give a quick reading Here(without digging much).
  • China’s Xinjiang region is like India’s Rajasthan – its largest Province. And it borders 8 countries – Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

 

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

Blinken promises support for Gaza:


Context:

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has vowed to “rally international support” to aid Gaza following a devastating war there while keeping any assistance out of the hands of its militant Hamas rulers.

What’s the issue?

The 11-day fighting between Israel and Hamas killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and caused widespread destruction in the impoverished coastal territory.

The truce that came into effect recently has so far held, but it did not address any of the underlying issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Note: The issue has been covered in-depth previously on-

  1. https://www.insightsonindia.com/2021/05/12/whats-happening-in-jerusalem/.
  2. https://www.insightsonindia.com/2021/05/19/israel-palestine-conflict/.

 

InstaCurious:

  • Once many years ago there was a question on the Yom Kippur war. So, brief knowledge about Israel’s other wars is desirable. Click Here


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.

High levels of mercury found in rivers linked to Greenland Ice Sheet:


Context:

According to recent research, high concentrations of mercury were found in the water bodies fed by the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Mercury level found:

Typical dissolved mercury content in rivers is about 1 – 10 ng L-1 (the equivalent of a salt grain-sized amount of mercury in an Olympic swimming pool of water).

  • In the water bodies fed by the Greenland Ice Sheet, scientists found dissolved mercury levels in excess of 150 ng L-1, far higher than an average river.

What are the reasons behind the high concentration of mercury?

It is not the industries or other anthropogenic activities, as is the case with most contaminants. Mercury-rich bedrock is weathered during the slow movement of glaciers down the slope of hills and the ground particles are carried into the streams as the glacier melts.

What are the concerns now?

  1. So far, efforts were aimed at preventing mercury being released from direct anthropogenic activity, like industry. But mercury coming from climatically sensitive environments like glaciers could be a source that is much more difficult to manage.
  2. Besides, this will lead to increased water pollution as the Earth continues to heat up and ice-sheets and glaciers melt faster than ever before.

Significance of the latest discovery:

  • We now understand that even glaciers carry potential toxins. This will force researchers to study how these toxins influence water quality and downstream communities, which may alter in a warming world.
  • Also, it shall help us understand it’s influence on the Earth’s geochemical and biological processes.

Basics- about Mercury(Hg, Atomic No 80):

Sources: Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. Released into the atmosphere through natural processes such as weathering of rocks, volcanic eruptions, geothermal activities, forest fires, etc. Mercury is also released through human activities.

Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.

Chemical of major public health concern- Mercury is considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.

Minamata Disease: A disorder caused by methylmercury poisoning that was first described in the inhabitants of Minamata Bay, Japan and resulted from their eating fish contaminated with mercury industrial waste.

About the Minamata Convention:

  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury and its compounds.
  • It was agreed at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Geneva, Switzerland 2013. It entered into force in 2017.
  • Controlling the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle is one of the key obligations under the Convention.
  • It is a UN treaty.
  • The Convention also addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal once it becomes waste, sites contaminated by mercury as well as health issues.
  • India has ratified the Convention.

 

InstaCurious:

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Mercury- Source, contamination and effects on health.
  2. About Minamata disease.
  3. What is Minamata convention?
  4. What is WHO ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern?
  5. Meaning of Ratification of a convention.

Mains Link:

Write a note on mercury contamination and discuss international efforts to address the issue.

Sources: Down to Earth.

 

Topics Covered: Cybersecurity related issues.

The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021:


Context:

New IT rules to regulate digital content, featuring a code of ethics and a three-tier grievance redressal framework, have come into force (May 26).

Background:

On February 25, the Centre framed the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, in the exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011, which will come into effect from May 26.

Overview of the new rules:

  1. It mandates a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country. This is necessary for the users of social media to raise their grievance against the misuse of social media.
  2. Significant social media firms have to appoint a chief compliance officer and have a nodal contact person who can be in touch with law enforcement agencies 24/7.
  3. A grievance officer: Social media platforms will also have to name a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and dispose of it in 15 days.
  4. Removal of content: If there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women – about exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or impersonation etc – social media platforms will be required to remove that within 24 hours after a complaint is made.
  5. A monthly report: They also will have to publish a monthly report about the number of complaints received and the status of redressal.
  6. There will be three levels of regulation for news publishers — self-regulation, a self-regulatory body, headed by a retired judge or an eminent person, and oversight from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, including codes of practices and a grievance committee.

What is a significant social media intermediary and benefits obtained under it?

Social media companies with more than 50 lakh registered users will be considered ‘significant social media intermediaries’, as per the new norms.

What happens in case of non compliance?

  • Social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp messenger could face a ban if they do not comply with the new Information Technology rules.
  • They also run the risk of losing their status as “intermediaries” and may become liable for criminal action if they do not comply with the revised regulations.

What are the Concerns being raised?

  1. Various industry bodies have written to the government for up to a one-year compliance window, particularly in view of the pandemic.
  2. Concerns have also been expressed over potential unavailability of ‘safe harbour’ protection given to intermediaries under Section 79 of the IT Act, under the new rules.
  3. They have requested a re-think over a clause in the new rules which can lead to imposition of criminal liability upon the employees for non-compliance by intermediaries, asking for it to be dropped in the interest of ease of doing business.
  4. Originator traceability mandate in end-to-end encrypted platforms could end up weakening the security architecture of the platform. This could render the entire citizenry susceptible to cyberattacks by hostile actors.
  5. Additionally, the extant data retention mandate entailed risking privacy of users in India and abroad in addition to security risks and technical complexities which requires a lot of time for development and testing before integration with the existing ecosystem.

 

InstaCurious:

  • It’s not the Home ministry which has come up with these rules. It’s the ministry of electronics and information technology.
  • Whether govt bans Facebook, Twitter etc or not, but as an aspirant you should log out of them till you get your rank(provided they still exist in India till then)

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of the new rules.
  2. Who are intermediaries as per the definition?
  3. What is safe harbour protection?
  4. Grievance redressal mechanism as provided under the new rules.

Mains Link:

What are the concerns being raised against the new IT rules? Discuss ways to address these concerns.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  4


 

Topics Covered: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions.

Plane wedding: DGCA must take action, say experts:


What’s the issue?

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has launched an investigation into a case of 161 passengers on board a chartered SpiceJet flight flouting onboard Covid norms while attending a mid-air wedding ceremony.

Wedding rituals were also organized onboard violating Covid related norms. The flight hovered over Madurai’s Meenakshi Amman temple as the couple completed the marriage rituals.

  • However, the company says they didn’t know there were going to be rituals performed onboard.

What has the DGCA ruled?

In March, the DGCA had issued a circular to all airlines, airports and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to treat passengers who violate Covid-19 protocol, despite repeated warnings during the course of the flight, as “unruly passengers”.

  • This meant that passengers who do not wear their masks appropriately or follow social distancing norms during a flight could land on the no-fly list for at least three months.
  • There are three levels of putting an offender on the no-fly list: Three months for verbal abuse, six months for physical assault, and two years or more for life-threatening behavior.
  • The rules also stipulate that after the airline’s crew file a complaint, an internal committee formed by the airline will decide the nature of the offence and the level of punishment that needs to be given to the passenger.

What are the issues in the latest incident?

  1. No one was wearing masks and PPE kits.
  2. No social distancing.
  3. Assembly of more than 100 people.
  4. Violating all safety norms.

 

InstaCurious:

  • Can you list down at least 4 ethical issues involved in this Covid-Escape wedding? (You can write them in the comments section).

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS-TS):

  • PIMS-TS, also known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), is a rare condition associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection that was first defined in April 2020.
  • Causes: It is not known what triggers the condition, but it is thought to be a rare immune overreaction that occurs approximately four to six weeks after mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • Symptoms of the condition include fever, rash, eye infection, and gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. diarrhoea, stomach-ache, nausea). In some rare cases, the condition can lead to multi-organ failure.

Why in the News?

A small study has reported most symptoms of rare paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS-TS) associated with SARS-CoV2 are resolved after six months.

WHO BioHub initiative:

BioHub will be a global facility for pathogen storage, sharing and analysis.

Significance: The sharing of pathogens is currently done bilaterally between countries; WHO BioHub will expedite the process.

WHO and Switzerland have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch this facility.

Potential: The move is significant in the view of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the need to underline the importance of sharing pathogen information to assess risks and launch countermeasures.

Miniature sculpture of the Buddha found in Udupi:

The Buddha was found among debris removed from an abandoned well at Alembi in Udupi district in Karnataka.

Description:

  • It is nine centimetres high, five centimetres wide and two centimetres thick.
  • The Buddha is seated on a lotus pedestal in Dharma Chakra Pravarthana Mudre.
  • Below the seat, six disciples are seated on either side of the Dharma Chakra.
  • The Lord wears clothes and ear-rings.
  • A small Ushnisha is shown on the top of the head.
  • In the back of the head, a beautifully carved round lobe is seen.
  • On the top corners, two Yakshas and, on either side of his back, two winged horses have been carved out.
  • The sculpture is in the Gupta style.

Significance of the discovery:

Traditionally, the ancient Tulu Nadu was said to be ruled by the Kadambas of Banavasi. The Guptas and the Kadambas of Banavasi had matrimonial relations. Hence, the discovery of the Buddha sculpture is not an uncommon thing.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Bay of Bengal, fomenting Yaas, hotter than normal for season.
  2. CJI made ‘statement of law’ at CBI panel.
  3. National Mission on use of Biomass in Thermal Power Plants.

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