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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 4 June 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 2:

1. Indemnity from liability.

2. Caste categories for NREGS pay.

3. Norms for employing retired officials defined.

4. Palestine flays India’s abstention from vote.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. NASA announces two new missions to Venus.

2. Eighth Global Nitrogen Conference.

3. Sri Lanka braces for oil spill from sinking cargo vessel.


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

Indemnity from liability:


Context:

Amid an acute vaccine crisis in the country, India is expected to grant indemnity to foreign vaccine makers including Pfizer and Moderna which would make it easier for their Covid vaccines to come to India.

  • Now, Serum Institute has become the latest pharma company to ask for indemnity from liability, stating that all vaccine manufacturers, whether Indian or foreign, should be protected against legal suits for any severe side effects.

What is indemnity clause?

In simple terms, indemnity means security against a loss or other financial stress.

  • In legal terms, it means a contractual obligation of one party to compensate another party due to the acts of the former.
  • The clause is commonly used in insurance contracts.

In the case of India, if the government gives an indemnity to foreign vaccine makers to roll out their vaccine in the country, the government, and not the vaccine maker, would be liable to compensate any citizen who claims to have side effects after taking the vaccine jab.

What are Bridging trials’?

‘Bridging trials’ are localised clinical trials which generate data related to the impact of foreign medicines/vaccines on the indigenous population before they are rolled out for the public. These trials are important in ascertaining the efficacy and potential side-effects related to the medicine/vaccine.

  • Besides clearance on indemnity clause, foreign vaccine makers including Pfizer and Moderna had sought relaxation on the requirement for a post-approval bridging trial for its vaccine.

Are there any exceptions to indemnification?

There are a number of common exceptions to indemnification.

An indemnification provision may exclude indemnification for claims or losses that result from the indemnified party’s:

  1. Negligence or gross negligence.
  2. Improper use of the products.
  3. Bad faith failure to comply with its obligations in the agreement.

 

Insta Curious:

An indemnity claim may be brought before breach of contract, whereas damages claim can only be brought after the breach of a contract. Read more about this, here.

Did you know that The WHO has launched a nofault compensation programme for Covid-19 vaccines through the Covax alliance? Read here

Do you know what Contract Novation is? Read Here (Another Concept to Safeguard the interests in a contract)

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is indemnity clause?
  2. Where it is oftenly used?
  3. Benefits of the clause.
  4. Important Vaccines being imported into India.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Indemnity clause.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Norms for employing retired officials defined:


Context:

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has laid down a defined procedure to be followed by government organisations for getting vigilance clearance before employing a retired official on a contractual or consultancy basis.

As per the procedure:

  1. Applicability: Before offering employment to retired All India Services and Group A officers of the Central government or their equivalent in other organisations owned or controlled by the Centre, vigilance clearance from the employer organisation, from which the officer has retired, should be obtained.
  2. In case a retired officer served in more than one organisation, clearance has to be obtained from all of them where the person was posted in the 10 years prior to retirement.
  3. A communication seeking clearance should also be sent to the CVC. If no reply is received from the erstwhile employer (s) within 15 days of sending the communication by speed post, a reminder can be sent. If there is no response within 21 days, vigilance clearance should be deemed to have been given.
  4. If the employee is found involved in any vigilance-related matter or not cleared from the vigilance point of view, the erstwhile employer organisation would be responsible for all consequential actions.

Need for these rules:

The absence of a uniform procedure sometimes led to a situation where officials with tainted past or cases pending against them were engaged.

  • Such a situation not only leads to unnecessary complaints/allegations of favouritism, but is also against the tenets of fairness and probity which is the basic principle governing the functioning of government organisations.

 About CVC:

  • The CVC was set up by the Government in February, 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam.
  • In 2003, the Parliament enacted CVC Act conferring statutory status on the CVC.
  • The CVC is not controlled by any Ministry/Department. It is an independent body which is only responsible to the Parliament.
  • It submits its report to the President of India.
  • It exercises superintendence over the functioning of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) insofar as it relates to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

 

Read more about CVC- composition and removal of members here : Read here

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know, Vigilance Awareness Week (VAW)  is being celebrated every year during the last week of October and coincides with the birthday of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, known to be a man of high integrity? Read Here (Know the themes of VAW of recent years)

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About CVC.
  2. Appointment.
  3. Removal.
  4. Powers and functions.
  5. Reports.
  6. Latest guidelines on appointment of retired governement officials.

Mains Link:

Discuss the roles and functions of CVC.

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.

Caste categories for NREGS pay:


Context:

The Union Finance Ministry has asked the States to split wage payments under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme into separate categories for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and others from this financial year.

  • Please note, the existing system for wages under the scheme is for only one type, that is there is no category wise provision of wage payment.

Rationale behind this move:

This is being done in order to assess and highlight the benefits flowing from budgetary outlay towards Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

  • The measure is to a large extent aimed at highlighting what the Centre is doing for the SC and ST communities.

What are the Concerns against this move?

  1. This may complicate the payment system.
  2. It may lead to a reduction in scheme funding.
  3. It may cause delay in wage payments.
  4. This may also restrict MGNREGA to districts with high SC/ST populations.

About MGNREGA:

The scheme was introduced in 2005 as a social measure that guarantees “the right to work”.

  • The key tenet of this social measure and labour law is that the local government will have to legally provide at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India to enhance their quality of life.

Key objectives:

  1. Generation of paid rural employment of not less than 100 days for each worker who volunteers for unskilled labour.
  2. Proactively ensuring social inclusion by strengthening the livelihood base of rural poor.
  3. Creation of durable assets in rural areas such as wells, ponds, roads and canals.
  4. Reduce urban migration from rural areas.
  5. Create rural infrastructure by using untapped rural labour.

The following are the eligibility criteria for receiving the benefits under MGNREGA scheme:

  1. Must be Citizen of India to seek MGNREGA benefits.
  2. Job seeker has completed 18 years of age at the time of application.
  3. The applicant must be part of a local household (i.e. application must be made with local Gram Panchayat).
  4. Applicants must volunteer for unskilled labour.

Implementation of the scheme:

  1. Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
  2. Right to get unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
  3. Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory, which lends to accountability and transparency.
  4. The Gram Sabha is the principal forum for wage seekers to raise their voices and make demands.
  5. It is the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat which approves the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.

 

Insta Curious:

  1. Do you know what WAGE RIFT is? Read Here (Related topic to Wages)
  2. id you know that Gram Panchayats are responsible for Issuing Job Cards (JCs) under the Scheme? Read more about the roles of Gram Panchayat here: Read here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Under MGNREGA, what are the roles of Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, States, State Food Commission, Centre?
  2. What are job cards, who issues them?
  3. Who sets up the State Employment Guarantee Fund?
  4. What is Wage employment?
  5. Who conducts social audits?

Mains Link:

Discuss the key features and significance of MGNREGA.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Palestine flays India’s abstention from vote:


Context:

A resolution titled “Ensuring respect for international human rights law and humanitarian law in Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem and in Israel” recently came up at the Human Rights Council [HRC] against the backdrop of the latest round of conflict between Israel and Gaza strip, the coastal part of the Palestinian territories.

  • However, India abstained from voting. Now, in response to this, Palestine has observed that such abstention suppresses human rights of “all people”.

Background:

The resolution was adopted with the vote of 24 members. Nine voted against, and 14, including India, abstained. The passing of the resolution led to the setting up of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate violation of international law by Israel.

How has India’s policy on Israel and Palestine evolved over time?

India’s policy on the longest running conflict in the world has gone from being unequivocally pro-Palestine for the first four decades, to a tense balancing act with its three-decade-old friendly ties with Israel. In recent years, India’s position has also been perceived as pro-Israel.

1. Post 1948:

In 1948, India was the only non-Arab-state among 13 countries that voted against the UN partition plan of Palestine in the General Assembly that led to the creation of Israel.

  • In 1975, India became the first non-Arab country to recognise the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, and invited it to open an office in Delhi, which was accorded diplomatic status five years later.
  • In 1988, when the PLO declared an independent state of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, India granted recognition immediately.

2. Post 1992:

The balancing began with India’s decision to normalise ties with Israel in 1992, which came against the backdrop of the break-up of the Soviet Union, and massive shifts in the geopolitics of West Asia on account of the first Gulf War in 1990.

  • The opening of an Indian embassy in Tel Aviv in January 1992 marked an end to the earlier stand.

3. Until 2017:

India’s position was that it supported “the Palestinian cause and called for a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side at peace with Israel”- this was a two- state solution.

  • Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated this position in November 2013. So did then President Pranab Mukherjee, in October 2015.

4. Post 2017:

India dropped the references to East Jerusalem and the borders in 2017 when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Delhi. In 2018, when Mr. Modi visited Ramallah, he reaffirmed the same position, with no direct reference to the borders or Jerusalem.

What does this indicate?

The trend is clear – India’s decisions are based on a mature understanding and evaluation of the Israel-Palestine issues and New Delhi is following the same approach now as Israel and Palestine exchange rocket fire. India has refused to pick a side and called for de-escalation and dialogue.

For more details on Israel- Palestine conflict, read : Read here

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know the difference between Human Rights Council and UN Human Rights ? Read Here

Do you know about the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council? Read 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 whole conflict.

Mains Link:

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

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

NASA announces two new missions to Venus:


Context:

The last US probe to visit the planet was the Magellan orbiter in 1990.

Now, NASA has announced two new missions to Venus. These two sister missions both aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world, capable of melting lead at the surface. These include:

1. Davinci+:

The Davinci+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) mission will:

  • Measure the planet’s atmosphere to gain insight into how it formed and evolved.
  • Determine whether Venus ever had an ocean.
  • Return the first high resolution images of the planet’s “tesserae” geological features (These features could be comparable to continents on Earth).

2. Veritas (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy):

This mission will map the planet’s surface to understand its geological history and investigate how it developed so differently than Earth.

  • It will use a form of radar to chart surface elevations and discover whether volcanoes and earthquakes are still happening.

About Venus:

  • Venus is the second planet from the sun and the hottest planet in the solar system with a surface temperature of 500C – high enough to melt lead.
  • The planet’s thick atmosphere has cranked the surface pressure up to 90 bars.
  • 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.
  • Venus is one of just two planets that rotate from east to west. Only Venus and Uranus have this “backwards” rotation.

Historic missions to Venus:

  1. Magellan – a Nasa mission that ended in 1994.
  2. Venus Express A European mission- focused on atmospheric science.
  3. Akatsuki Japanese spacecraft- focused on atmospheric science.

Future missions:

The European Space Agency (Esa) is evaluating a Venus mission, called EnVision, alongside two astronomy proposals – Theseus and Spica. Other concepts are also being proposed to Nasa.

 

Insta Curious:

  1. Did you know that it was the Soviet Union that started missions to Venus in the 1960s? Read here
  2. Do you know, astronomers are considering an extraordinary possibility of life floating in the clouds of Venus? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Key facts related to Venus.
  2. Why is it called earth’s twin?
  3. About the latest missions announced by NASA.
  4. Previous historic missions.
  5. Venus vs Earth- comparison.

Mains Link:

Discuss why NASA’s latest missions to Venus are significant.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Eighth Global Nitrogen Conference:


Context:

The 8th International Nitrogen Initiative Conference (INI2020) was scheduled to convene in Berlin, Germany, from 3-7 May 2020. But, due to the pandemic it was cancelled last year and was held recently- virtually.

About the International Nitrogen Initiative Conference:

  • Set up in 2003 under sponsorship of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and from the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP).
  • It is a triennial event that brings together scientists from around the world dealing with reactive nitrogen compounds in agriculture, industry, traffic, soil, water and air.
  • Objective: To stimulate an exchange among policymakers and other relevant stakeholders of results, ideas and visions to improve future holistic management of reactive nitrogen.
  • The program is currently a sustained partner of Future Earth.

Nitrogen as an essential nutrient:

  • Nitrogen, which is a vital macronutrient for most plants, is the most abundant element in the atmosphere.
  • A little over 78% of dry air on Earth is nitrogen. But atmospheric nitrogen, or dinitrogen, is unreactive and cannot be utilised by plants directly.
  • Therefore, nitrogen-fixing bacteria like rhizobia live symbiotically with leguminous plants, providing nitrogen to the plant and soil in the form of reactive compounds like ammonia and nitrate.

How Nitrogen turned into pollutants from nutrients and how it is affecting health and environment?

  • Nitrogen compounds running off farmland have led to water pollution problems around the world, while nitrogen emissions from industry, agriculture and vehicles make a big contribution to air pollution.
  • Over 80% of the nitrogen in soil is not utilised by humans. While over four-fifths of the nitrogen is used to feed livestock, only about six per cent reaches humans in case of non-vegetarian diet, as compared to the 20% that reaches the plate of a vegetarian.

Therefore, Nitrogen becomes a pollutant when it escapes into the environment and reacts with other organic compounds. It is either released into the atmosphere, gets dissolved in water sources such as rivers, lakes or groundwater, or remains in the soil.

Nitrogen pollution has a significant impact on the environment:

  1. It creates harmful algal blooms and dead zones in our waterways and oceans; the algae produce toxins which are harmful to human and aquatic organisms (and indirectly affects fisheries and biodiversity in coastal areas).
  2. Contamination of drinking water: 10 million people in Europe are potentially exposed to drinking water with nitrate concentrations above recommended levels. This can have an adverse effect on human health.
  3. Food Security: Excessive nitrogen fertiliser application contributes to soil nutrient depletion. As the world needs to feed an ever growing population, loss of arable land is a major global problem.
  4. The release of Nitrous Oxide is essentially a greenhouse gas which is harmful to the environment.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know what the Haber-Bosch process is? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an inert gas?
  2. About Nitrogen and its key properties.
  3. How nitrous oxide is formed?
  4. What are algal blooms?
  5. About INI 2020.
  6. What is Future Earth?

Mains Link:

Write a note on nitrogen pollution.

Sources: down to earth.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Sri Lanka braces for oil spill from sinking cargo vessel:


Context:

Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl, carrying chemicals and plastic, has been in news since a fire incident on May 20 and subsequent explosion aboard, following which tonnes of plastic pellet deposits were found deposited along Sri Lanka’s beaches.

Preparedness:

The country’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), which termed the incident one of Sri Lanka’s worst ecological disasters in history, has readied oil spill containment booms, to tackle a possible leak from the vessel that officials said carried 350 tonnes of oil in its fuel tanks.

What is an oil spill?

OECD defines an oil spill as oil, discharged accidentally or intentionally, that floats on the surface of water bodies as a discrete mass and is carried by the wind, currents and tides.

  • Oil spills can pollute land, air, or water, though it is mostly used for oceanic oil spills.

Effects of oil spills:

Ecosystem Destruction: Oil spills can have a major impact on the temporary animal and fish loss of habitat. Heavy oils may affect several organism functions like respiration, feeding, and thermo-regulation.

It can affect living beings in case of direct contact with the environment polluted with spilled oil components (some of which may persist a long time), such as drinking polluted water or breathing polluted dust particles.

Effects on flora: If the oil washes into coastal marshes, mangrove forests, or other wetlands, fibrous plants and grasses absorb oil, which can damage plants and make the area unsuitable as wildlife habitat.

On Marine Organisms: Oil spills frequently kill marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, seals, and sea otters.

On Birds: Oil spills also damage nesting grounds, potentially causing serious long-term effects on entire species.

Effects of oil spills on economy:

On Economy:

  1. If beaches and populated shorelines are fouled, tourism and commerce may be severely affected.
  2. The power plants and other utilities that depend on drawing or discharging sea water are severely affected by oil spills.
  3. Major oil spills are frequently followed by the immediate suspension of commercial fishing.

Methods through which oil spill can be cleaned:

Containment Booms: Floating barriers, called booms are used to restrict the spread of oil and to allow for its recovery, removal, or dispersal.

Skimmers: are devices used for physically separating spilled oil from the water’s surface.

Sorbents: Various sorbents (e.g., straw, volcanic ash, and shavings of polyester-derived plastic) that absorb the oil from the water are used.

Dispersing agents: These are chemicals that contain surfactants, or compounds that act to break liquid substances such as oil into small droplets. They accelerate its natural dispersion into the sea.

Bio-agents: Nutrients, enzymes, or microorganisms such as Alcanivorax bacteria or Methylocella silvestris that increase the rate at which natural biodegradation of oil occurs are added.

 

Insta Curious:

 Do you know about the largest marine oil spill in history, Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill? Read Here

Sources: the Hindu.

 

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Strong policies on black carbon can sharply cut glacier melt: World Bank study.
  2. CBSE cannot deny students name change on certificates.

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