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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 27 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. The Reclining Buddha.

2. Bay of Bengal, fomenting Yaas, hotter than normal for season.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. CJI made ‘statement of law’ at CBI panel.

2. More scrutiny of Israel rights record sought.

3. Quad targeting China: Consul General.

4. Interpol.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. National Mission on use of Biomass in coal based thermal power plants.

 

GS Paper 4:

1. IMA demands action against Ramdev.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Dhaka clears currency swap for Lanka.

2. National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).


GS Paper  :  1


 

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

The Reclining Buddha:


Context:

On Buddha Jayanti (May 26), India’s largest statue of the Reclining Buddha was to have been installed at the Buddha International Welfare Mission temple in Bodh Gaya. The ceremony has been put off due to Covid-19 restrictions.

But, what does the statue of Reclining Buddha represent?

A reclining Buddha statue or image represents the Buddha during his last illness, about to enter Parinirvana.

Parinirvana is the stage of great salvation after death that can only be attained by enlightened souls.

  • The Buddha’s death came when he was 80 years old, in a state of meditation, in Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, close to the state’s border with Bihar.

Iconographic representation:

The Reclining Buddha was first depicted in Gandhara art, which began in the period between 50 BC and 75 AD, and peaked during the Kushana period from the first to the fifth centuries AD.

  • Statues and images of the Reclining Buddha show him lying on his right side, his head resting on a cushion or on his right elbow.
  • It is meant to show that all beings have the potential to be awakened and be released from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Please note that the Buddha was against idol worship.

Statues of Reclining Buddha outside India:

Reclining postures are more prevalent in Thailand and other parts of South East Asia.

  • The largest Reclining Buddha in the world is the 600-foot Winsein Tawya Buddha built in 1992 in Mawlamyine,
  • The Bhamala Buddha Parinirvana in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which dates back to the 2nd century AD, is considered the oldest statue of its kind in the world.

Reclining Buddha in India:

  1. Cave No. 26 of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ajanta contains a 24-foot-long and nine-foot-tall sculpture of the Reclining Buddha, believed to have been carved in the 5th century AD.
  2. Kushinagar, where the Buddha actually attained parinirvana, has a 6-metre-long red sandstone monolith statue of the Reclining Buddha inside the Parinirvana Stupa.

Other depictions of the Buddha in India:

  1. At the Mahabodhi temple, the Buddha is sitting in the bhoomi-sparsha mudra, where his hand is pointing towards the ground. It symbolises earth as being witness to his enlightenment.
  2. At Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first sermon, the stone statue has a hand gesture called the dharma-chakra mudra, which signifies preaching. This is also the most popular depiction in India, along with the Bodhi tree depiction.
  3. The Walking Buddha is either beginning his journey toward enlightenment or returning after giving a sermon. This is the least common of the Buddha postures, and is seen mostly in Thailand.

buddhist_place

 

Insta Curious:

  • Most Buddha images throughout Asia are in one of three postures: standing, sitting or lying down. But did you know there is a famous Walking Buddha posture known as Sukhothai Walking Buddha? Read Here
  • Did you know about various mudras of Buddha(few questions have been asked on this in Prelims). Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Buddhism- Origin and Spread.
  2. Different sects under Buddhism.
  3. Various Mudras.
  4. Differences between Hinayana and Mahayana Sects.
  5. Who are Bodhisattvas?
  6. Different places associated with the life of Buddha.
  7. Various Buddhist Councils.

Mains Link:

Discuss the relevance of Buddha and his thoughts today.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

Bay of Bengal, fomenting Yaas, hotter than normal for season:


Context:

Climate scientists say the Bay of Bengal, where Cyclone ‘Yaas’ has formed, is at least two degrees warmer than what is normal for this time of the year.

Background:

Generally, cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are ferocious and cause significant devastation. This year, the north Bay of Bengal is exceptionally warm with temperatures up to 32 degrees Celsius.

Recent cyclones in Bay of Bengal:

  • Amphan was a super cyclone that ravaged West Bengal in May last year. It was the strongest storm that hit India’s eastern coast since the super cyclone of 1999, that struck Paradip, Odisha.
  • Before Amphan, Fani in 2019 also hit Odisha, causing immense damage that lasted weeks.

What’s the concern?

In the last four years 12 cyclones have formed in the Bay. Out of five cyclones that the Indian coastline witnessed in a year, four originated in the Bay of Bengal and only one in the Arabian Sea.

  • There is also increasing frequency of cyclone formation in the North Indian Ocean in recent years.

Why Bay of Bengal is the hot-bed for cyclonic storms?

  1. The vast low pressure created by the warm water of the ocean.
  2. The Bay of Bengal shaped like a trough that makes it more hospitable for storms to gain force.
  3. The high sea surface temperature makes matters more worse in the Bay triggering the intensity of the storms.
  4. The Bay of Bengal also gets more rainfall with sluggish winds and warm air currents around it that keep temperatures relatively high all year.
  5. The constant inflow of fresh warm water from the perineal rivers like Bramhaputra, Ganga makes it further impossible to mix with the cooler water below.
  6. Lack of landmass between the Pacific Ocean and the Bay of Bengal tend cyclonic winds to move into the coastal areas causing heavy rainfall.
  7. The absence of air movements from north-western India towards the Bay in the post-monsoon phase is also another reason for the chances of cyclones in the Bay of Bengal.

What geographical advantage the Arabian sea has?

  • It is much calm as the stronger winds help dissipate the heat.
  • Lack of constant fresh water helps the warm water to mix with the cool water underneath, reducing the surface temperature.
  • The Arabian Sea enjoys the locational advantage as the winds from the Pacific Ocean encounter the Western Ghats and the Himalayas cutting down on its intensity and sometimes never reaching the Arabian Sea.

 

Insta Curious:

  • Recent cyclones/hurricanes are lasting longer after they make landfall. Do you know why? Read Here
  • Do you know how cyclones are named(There was a Mains question)? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are cyclones?
  2. Favourable conditions for their formation.
  3. Types.
  4. How are they named?
  5. Recent list of names.
  6. Why there are more cyclones in Bay of Bengal than in Arabian Sea?

Mains Link:

Why severity of cyclones forming in Bay of Bengal is increasing? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

CJI made ‘statement of law’ at CBI panel:


Context:

The Centre has appointed Maharashtra cadre IPS officer of 1985 batch, Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, currently Director General of the Central Industrial Security Force, as CBI Director for two years.

  • The government has picked him from a panel of three officers who were shortlisted by the Prime Minister-led Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) consisting of CJI as well as leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

What is the ‘statement of law’ made by the CJI?

In the PM led panel, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana opined to avoid officers with less than six months left to retire for appointment as CBI Director. This is being termed as a simple “statement of law”.

  • Because, as per the CJI, the panel’s selection of officers should be able to withstand the “scrutiny of law in the future”.

Supreme Court’s views and judgements in this regard:

  1. Prakash Singh case: The six-month minimum residual tenure rule was introduced by the Supreme Court in a March 13, 2019 order in the Prakash Singh case pertaining to the appointment of DGPs. It was extended to the CBI Director too.
  2. Union of India versus C. Dinakar, 2004: “Ordinarily IPS officers of the senior most four batches in service on the date of retirement of CBI Director, irrespective of their empanelment, shall be eligible for consideration for appointment to the post of CBI Director”.
  3. The Vineet Narain judgment of 1998: The Director is to hold the post for not less than two years. He/she may not be transferred except with the previous consent of the high-level committee.

Implications of this stand by CJI:

The CJI’s reliance on the 2019 order – which the other two members including the prime minister complied with – would mean that the degree of discretion which this government enjoyed before Jaiswal’s selection has now been limited, while appointing persons to sensitive posts which require persons of impeccable character, integrity and professionalism as incumbents.

But, why is this needed?

The apex court had indicated the possibility that officers with only a few days of service may be in an insecure state of mind.

About the CBI Director and his appointment:

  • The Director of the CBI is appointed as per section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act of 1946.
  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (2013) says that the Central Government shall appoint the Director of CBI on the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him.
  • Further, the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Act, 2014 made a change in the composition of the committee related to the appointment of the Director of C.B.I. It states that where there is no recognized leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, then the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha would be a member of that committee.

 

Insta curious:

  • It is important to know which all other important appointments are made by The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). Also know this important fact the ACC is one of the 8 Cabinet Committees that India currently has.
  • Having a balanced opinion on CBI’s autonomy is also important. Read here.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. The establishment of the CBI was recommended by?
  2. The CBI comes under the administrative control of?
  3. Is it a statutory body?
  4. Committee to select the director of CBI.
  5. Vineet Narain’s judgment is related to?
  6. Prakash Singh Case verdict- overview.

Mains Link:

Why do you think an officer to be appointed as the CBI Director should have a minimum of six months tenure? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

More scrutiny of Israel rights record sought:


Context:

Member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are calling on the UN Human Rights Council to set up a permanent commission to report on human rights violations in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

  • If passed, it would mark an unprecedented level of scrutiny authorised by the UN’s top human rights body.

For details on Israel- Palestine conflict, recent issues, please refer:

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

 

In this article, we shall try and learn more about the UNHRC:

  • The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006. It replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) serves as the Secretariat of the Human Rights Council.
  • OHCHR is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Composition:

  • The UNHRC has 47 members serving at any time with elections held to fill up seats every year, based on allocations to regions across the world to ensure geographical representation.
  • Each elected member serves for a term of three years.
  • Countries are disallowed from occupying a seat for more than two consecutive terms.

The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as follows:

  1. African States: 13 seats.
  2. Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats.
  3. Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats.
  4. Western European and other States: 7 seats.
  5. Eastern European States: 6 seats.

Functions:

  1. The UNHRC passes non-binding resolutions on human rights issues through a periodic review of all 193 UN member states called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
  2. It oversees expert investigation of violations in specific countries (Special Procedures).

Challenges to UNHRC and Need for reforms:

  1. Despite the continued participation of several western countries in the UNHRC, they continue to harbour misgivings on the understanding of Human rights.
  2. Non-compliance has been a serious issue with respect to the UNHRC’s functioning.
  3. Non-participation of powerful nations such as the US.

 

InstaCurious:

  • What’s the difference between UNHRC and UNHCR(related to refugee rights)?
  • It’s always good to know the names and works of a few important global level NGOs working to ensure human rights. Click Here.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Where is the west bank?
  2. Gaza strip.
  3. Golan heights.
  4. Who are Hamas?
  5. What is Al-Nakba?
  6. About the conflict.
  7. About UNHRC.

Mains Link:

Suggest solutions to end the long standing Israel- Palestine conflict.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Quad targeting China: Consul General:


Context:

China’s Consul General in Mumbai has described Quad as “an attempt for containment”.

  • Because, Quad advocates so-called democratic alliance, and targets certain specific countries in an attempt for containment.”

Implications for India:

China’s tougher stand as regards India has only sharpened from 2020. The reference to Quad indicates Beijing’s deep annoyance with a grouping that intends to curtail its influence in the Indo-Pacific and areas that China considers its zone of influence.

What is Quad grouping?

The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.

  • It is often dubbed as an “Asian” or “mini” NATO, and is viewed as a counterbalance to China’s military and economic clout in the Indo-Pacific region.

Genesis:

The grouping traces its genesis to 2004 when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.

  • It then met for the first time in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
  • The intention was to enhance maritime cooperation between the four nations.

Significance of the grouping:

  1. Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
  2. Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
  3. It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.

Recent developments:

  • QUAD pledged to promote a free, open rules-based order, rooted in international law to advance security and prosperity and counter threats to both in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
  • Quad Vaccine Partnership: To ensure “equitable” access to vaccines to counter the pandemic.
  • In 2020, all four QUAD Countries – Japan, India, Australia and the USA took part in the Malabar exercise. Malabar exercise is an annual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan, and the USA which is held alternately in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

 

InstaCurious:

  • China is the largest producer of rare earth minerals. How has Quad impacted it? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Quad- composition.
  2. When was it first proposed?
  3. Countries and important islands in the Indian Ocean region.
  4. Geographical overview of Indo-Pacific region.
  5. Important seas and straits in the region.

Mains Link:

Quad seeks to maintain peace and tranquillity in the Indo- Pacific region. Examine.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Interpol:


Context:

Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who had recently fled from Antigua and Barbuda, was captured in neighbouring Dominica after an Interpol Yellow Notice was issued against him.

  • Choksi had been living in Antigua and Barbuda since 2018 after taking the citizenship. He is wanted in a ₹13,500-crore loan fraud in Punjab National Bank.

(Note: we need to learn about Interpol and various notices issued by it from this article; nothing much).

What is Interpol?

  • The International Criminal Police Organisation, or Interpol, is a 194-member intergovernmental organisation.
  • headquarteredin Lyon, France.
  • Formed in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission, and started calling itself Interpol in 1956.
  • India joined the organisation in 1949, and is one of its oldest members.

Interpol’s declared global policing goals include:

  • Countering terrorism, promoting border integrity worldwide, protection of vulnerable communities, providing a secure cyberspace for people and businesses, curbing illicit markets, supporting environment security, and promoting global integrity.

What is the Interpol General Assembly?

  • It is Interpol’s supreme governing body, and comprises representatives from all its member countries.
  • It meets annually for a session lasting approximately four days, to vote on activities and policy.
  • Each country is represented by one or more delegates at the Assembly, who are typically chiefs of law enforcement agencies.
  • The Assembly also elects the members of the Interpol Executive Committee, the governing body which “provides guidance and direction in between sessions of the Assembly”.

 

InstaCurious:

  • Did you know like Interpol (which is a non-UN body), there is something called The United Nations Police (UNPOL). There is an Europol
  • And there is UNODC. Read what’s it about Here. (Remember to read only a few introductory lines about these organisations. Please don’t dig deep).

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who is a fugitive economic offender?
  2. What is Interpol.
  3. Various notices issued.
  4. Overview of Interpol’s crime programmes.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.

National Mission on use of Biomass in coal based thermal power plants:


Context:

To address the issue of air pollution due to farm stubble burning and to reduce carbon footprints of thermal power generation, Ministry of Power has decided to set up a National Mission on use of Biomass in coal based thermal power plants.

Objectives of the mission:

(a) To increase the level of co-firing from present 5% to higher levels to have a larger share of carbon neutral power generation from the thermal power plants.

(b) To take up R&D activity in boiler design to handle the higher amount of silica, alkalis in the biomass pellets.

(c) To facilitate overcoming the constraints in supply chain of bio mass pellets and agro- residue and its transport upto to the power plants.

(d) To consider regulatory issues in biomass co-firing.

Implementation:

  1. The Mission would have a Steering Committee headed by Secretary (Power) comprising of all stakeholders including representatives from Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoPNG), Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) etc.
  2. The Executive Committee would be headed by Member (Thermal), CEA. NTPC will play a larger role in providing logistic and infrastructure support in the proposed National Mission.

What is Biomass Cofiring?

It refers to the concurrent blending and combustion of biomass materials with other fuels such as natural gas and coal within a boiler, which reduce the use of fossil fuels for energy generation and emissions without significantly increasing costs and infrastructure investments.

Benefits of Cofiring: 

  1. Biomass cofiring is a promising technology to decrease the use of fossil fuels for energy generation and hence mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Coal and biomass cofiring accounts for the relevant advantages of a relative ease of implementation and an effective reduction of CO2 and other pollutant (SOx, NOx) emissions to the atmosphere.
  3. Cofiring biomass with coal may record no loss in total boiler efficiency after adjusting combustion output for the new fuel mixture.

 

Insta Curious:

  • Are there any purely natural gas based thermal plants in India? Read Here.
  • Also do you think the future belongs to gas based plants in India? Read here.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Biomass Cofiring?
  2. Benefits.
  3. Issues.
  4. Gases released from stubble burning.

Mains Link:

Write a note on biomass Cofiring.

Sources: PIB.


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.

IMA demands action against Ramdev:


Context:

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his help to stop the misinformation campaign on COVID-19 vaccination and demanding action against Baba Ramdev for his alleged remarks on allopathy and allopathic doctors.

What’s the issue?

In a recent video Baba Ramdev claimed that 10,000 doctors and several people have died despite taking both doses of vaccine. This is being seen as a deliberate move to stall the efforts of vaccination to reach our masses.

Need of the hour:

We must acknowledge and compliment all systems of medicine, especially our Indian system of Ayurvedic Medicine, as each system is helping our people differently. However, no one should be allowed to propagate fear of vaccination.

What is vaccination?

Vaccination is a method to teach the immune system to trigger the antibodies and specialised immune-system cells in case of a future infection by an actual virus.

 

Insta Curious:

  • Not related to Maharshi Ramdev(but related to viruses though) – have you heard about an interesting phenomenon known as Antibody dependent enhancement (ADE)? Read here.
  • Can you think of 4 ethical issues involved in Maharshi Ramdev’s allergy towards allopathy? Please write them down in comments section.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Dhaka clears currency swap for Lanka:

Bangladesh has cleared a $200 million currency swap facility for Sri Lanka, becoming the first South Asian country to extend crucial financial assistance to the island nation this year.

Background:

With Sri Lanka’s main foreign exchange-earning sectors — tourism, export of garments and tea — badly hit due to the pandemic, the country has been struggling to maintain its reserves in the face of a daunting debt repayment schedule.

What is Currency Swap Arrangement?

  • It is an arrangement between two friendly countries to involve in trading in their own local currencies.
  • As per the arrangements, both countries pay for import and export trade at the predetermined rates of exchange, without bringing in third country currency like the US Dollar.
  • In such arrangements no third country currency is involved, thereby eliminating the need to worry about exchange variations.

 

InstaCurious:

  • India signed a similar agreement with Sri Lanka last year. Read Here

 

National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT):

  • The National Company Law Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body in India adjudicating issues concerning companies in the country.
  • It was formed on June 1, 2016, as per the provisions of the Companies Act 2013.
  • Formed based on the recommendations of the Justice Eradi Committee that was related to insolvency and winding up of companies in India.
  • Appeals: Decisions taken by the NCLT can be appealed to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). The decisions of the NCLAT can be appealed to the Supreme Court on a point of law.

Why in News?

The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has ordered the liquidation of Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Panel to investigate charges of illegal construction in Mekedatu.

 


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