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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 6 July 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. Solicitor General.

2. NIPUN Bharat Programme.

3. China is certified malaria-free by WHO.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Anti-Methanogenic Feed Supplement: Harit Dhara.

2. Discrete auroras on Mars.

3. new IT rules.

4. Section 66A of the IT Act.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR).

2. Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

Solicitor General:


Context:

A delegation of Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs recently met President Ram Nath Kovind and sought the removal of Tushar Mehta as the Solicitor General of India, on the grounds of “criminal misconduct” and “gross impropriety” following his meeting with BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari.

 

What’s the issue?

Suvendu Adhikari is an accused in the 2016 Narada tapes case, and Mr. Mehta is representing the CBI in the Supreme Court and the Calcutta High Court in the agency’s probe against senior TMC leaders in the matter.

  • Experts say such a meeting, between one of the highest serving law officers of India, the Solicitor General, who is also appointed as the Special Public Prosecutor for the CBI and an accused person being investigated by the same agency, raises extremely serious doubts of impropriety.
  • Also, Such meetings make a mockery of the criminal justice system and would only serve to destroy the common man’s faith in the judiciary.

 

Solicitor General- Key facts:

  1. Solicitor General is the second highest law officer in the country.
  2. He is subordinate to the Attorney General of India, the highest law officer and works under him.
  3. He also advises the government in legal matters.
  4. Solicitor general is appointed for period of three years by Appointment Committee of Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister.

 

Duties:

  1. To give advice to the Government of India upon such legal matters, and to perform such other duties of a legal character, as may from time to time, be referred or assigned to him by the Government of India.
  2. To appear, whenever required, in the Supreme Court or in any High Court on behalf of the Government of India in cases (including suits, writ petitions, appeal and other proceedings) in which the Government of India is concerned as a party or is otherwise interested.
  3. To represent the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know which law governs Solicitor General and Additional Solicitor Generals’ office? Read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Solicitor General.
  2. Duties and functions.
  3. Appointment and removal.
  4. Attorney general vs solicitor general.

Mains Link:

Discuss the roles and functions of attorney general of India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to education.

NIPUN Bharat Programme:


Context:

Union Education Minister launches NIPUN Bharat Programme.

 

About the Programme:

  • NIPUN stands for the National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy.
  • The Programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Education.
  • It will be implemented by the Department of School Education and Literacy.
  • Target: It has been envisioned for ensuring that every child in the country necessarily attains foundational literacy and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27.
  • It will cover the learning needs of children in the age group of 3 to 9 years.

 

Implementation:

A five-tier implementation mechanism will be set up at the National- State- District- Block- School level in all States and UTs, under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha.

 

Focus areas:

  1. The mission focuses on different domains of development like physical and motor development, socio-emotional development, literacy and numeracy development, cognitive development, life skills etc. for Holistic development of the child.
  2. It is envisaged to support and encourage students, along with their schools, teachers, parents, and communities, in every way possible, to help realise the true potential of children and propel the country to new heights.

 

Key components and expected outcomes of NIPUN Bharat Mission:

  1. Foundational skills enable to keep children in class thereby reducing the dropouts and improve transition rate from primary to upper primary and secondary stages.
  2. Activity based learning and a conducive learning environment will improve the quality of education.
  3. Innovative pedagogies such as toy-based and experiential learning will be used in classroom transactions thereby making learning a joyful and engaging activity.
  4. Intensive capacity building of teachers will make them empowered and provide greater autonomy for choosing the pedagogy.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know Sustainable Development Goals related to education? Read here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the programme.
  2. Key features.
  3. Implementation.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the programme.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

China is certified malaria-free by WHO:


Context:

Following a 70-year effort, China has been awarded a malaria-free certification from WHO – a notable feat for a country that reported 30 million cases of the disease annually in the 1940s.

  • China is the first country in the WHO Western Pacific Region to be awarded a malaria-free certification in more than 3 decades.
  • Other countries in the region that have achieved this status include Australia (1981), Singapore (1982) and Brunei Darussalam (1987).
  • Globally, 40 countries and territories have been granted a malaria-free certification from WHO – including, most recently, El Salvador (2021), Algeria (2019).

 

Keys to success- steps taken by China:

  1. China provides a basic public health service package for its residents free of charge. As part of this package, all people in China have access to affordable services for the diagnosis and treatment of malaria, regardless of legal or financial status.
  2. Effective multi-sector collaboration was also key to success. In 2010, 13 ministries in China – including those representing health, education, finance, research and science, development etc – joined forces to end malaria nationwide.
  3. “1-3-7” strategy: The “1” signifies the one-day deadline for health facilities to report a malaria diagnosis; by the end of day 3, health authorities are required to confirm a case and determine the risk of spread; and, within 7 days, appropriate measures must be taken to prevent further spread of the disease.

 

WHO malaria-free certification:

  1. WHO grants the certification when a country has demonstrated that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past three consecutive years.
  2. A country must also demonstrate the capacity to prevent the re-establishment of transmission.
  3. The final decision on awarding a malaria-free certification rests with the WHO Director-General, based on a recommendation by the independent Malaria Elimination Certification Panel (MECP).

 

Key findings of the WHO World Malaria Report 2020:

  • India has made considerable progress in reducing its malaria burden.
  • India is the only high endemic country which has reported a decline of 17.6% in 2019 as compared to 2018.

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know that through its DAMaN initiative, Odisha has emerged as an inspiration in the global fight against malaria? What is this initiative all about? Read here,

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Difference and examples of various diseases caused by Virus and Bacteria.
  2. Malaria- causes and treatment.
  3. About WHO Certification process.
  4. Overview of WHO World Malaria Report 2020.

Mains Link:

Discuss India’s efforts targeted at Malaria control.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Economics of animal rearing.

Anti-Methanogenic Feed Supplement: Harit Dhara:


Context:

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed an anti-Methanogenic feed supplement ‘Harit Dhara’ (HD).

Significance of this supplement:

  • This supplement can cut down cattle methane emissions by 17-20% and can also result in higher milk production.

 

What is Harit Dhara?

It has been made from tannin-rich plant-based sources. Tropical plants containing tannins, bitter and astringent chemical compounds, are known to suppress or remove protozoa from the rumen.

 

Benefits:

  1. It decreases the population of protozoa microbes in the rumen, responsible for hydrogen production and making it available to the archaea (structure similar to bacteria) for reduction of CO2 to methane.
  2. Fermentation after using this supplement will help produce more propionic acid, which provides more energy for lactose (milk sugar) production and body weight gain.
  3. Reduces methane production: An average lactating cow or buffalo in India emits around 200 litres of methane per day, while it is 85-95 litres for young growing heifers and 20-25 litres for adult sheep. Feeding Harit Dhara can reduce these by a fifth.

 

How and why is methane produced in cattle?

Methane is produced by animals having rumen.

  1. Rumen is the first of the four stomachs where the cattle eat plant material, cellulose, fibre, starch and sugars. These get fermented or broken down by microorganisms prior to further digestion and nutrient absorption.
  2. Carbohydrate fermentation leads to production of CO2 and hydrogen. These are used by microbes (Archaea) present in the rumen to produce methane.

 

What are the Concerns/ why do we need to limit methane emissions from cattle?

Methane’s global warming potential 25 times of carbon dioxide (CO2) over 100 years, makes it a more potent greenhouse gas.

The 2019 Livestock Census showed India’s cattle population at 193.46 million, along with 109.85 million buffaloes, 148.88 million goats and 74.26 million sheep.

  1. Belching cattle, buffaloes, sheep and goats in India emit an estimated 9.25 million tonnes (mt) to 14.2 mt of methane annually, out of a global total of 90 mt-plus from livestock.
  2. Being largely fed on agricultural residues i.e wheat/paddy straw and maize, sorghum or bajra stover – ruminants in India tend to produce 50-100% higher methane than their industrialised country counterparts that are given more easily fermentable/digestible concentrates, silages and green fodder.

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know about Coalbed methane and how it is extracted from coal? Read here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is methane? How is it produced?
  2. What is methane hydrate?
  3. Coalbed methane vs Shale gas.
  4. What is coalification?
  5. Greenhouse gases emitted during CBM extraction?

Mains Link:

Discuss steps taken by India to reduce methane emissions.

Sources: PIB.

 

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

Discrete auroras on Mars:


Context:

The UAE’s Hope spacecraft, which is orbiting Mars since February this year, has captured images of glowing atmospheric lights known as discrete auroras.

 

Uniqueness of these auroras:

Unlike auroras on Earth, which are seen only near the north and south poles, discrete auroras on Mars are seen all around the planet at night time.

 

What causes an aurora on Earth?

  1. Auroras are caused when charged particles ejected from the Sun’s surface — called the solar wind — enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
  2. These particles are harmful, and our planet is protected by the geomagnetic field, which preserves life by shielding us from the solar wind.
  3. However, at the north and south poles, some of these solar wind particles are able to continuously stream down, and interact with different gases in the atmosphere to cause a display of light in the night sky.
  4. This display, known as an aurora, is seen from the Earth’s high latitude regions (called the auroral oval), and is active all year round.

 

Aurora borealis and australis:

  • In the northern part of our globe, the polar lights are called aurora borealis or Northern Lights.
  • In the south, they are called aurora australis or southern lights, and are visible from high latitudes in Antarctica, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.

 

How are Martian auroras different?

  1. Unlike Earth, which has a strong magnetic field, the Martian magnetic field has largely died out. This is because the molten iron at the interior of the planet– which produces magnetism– has cooled.
  2. However, the Martian crust, which hardened billions of years ago when the magnetic field still existed, retains some magnetism.
  3. So, in contrast with Earth, which acts like one single bar magnet, magnetism on Mars is unevenly distributed, with fields strewn across the planet and differing in direction and strength.
  4. These disjointed fields channel the solar wind to different parts of the Martian atmosphere, creating “discrete” auroras over the entire surface of the planet as charged particles interact with atoms and molecules in the sky– as they do on Earth.

 

Significance:

Studying Martian auroras is important for scientists, for it can offer clues as to why the Red Planet lost its magnetic field and thick atmosphere– among the essential requirements for sustaining life.

 

Insta Curious: 

Why do auroras come in different colors and shapes? Read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are auroras?
  2. Types?
  3. How are they formed?
  4. Effects.
  5. What are Solar flares?
  6. What is Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)?
  7. Influence of solar flares on aurora formation.

Mains Link:

Discuss the mechanism behind the formation of Auroras.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Cybersecurity related issues.

New IT rules:


Context:

The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that social media giant Twitter Inc has failed to comply with India’s new IT Rules (Came into force on 26th May), which is law of the land and is mandatorily required to be complied with.

 

Implications:

  • Any non-compliance amounts to breach of provisions of IT Rules, leading to Twitter losing its immunity as an “intermediary”.
  • A loss of its intermediary status, which provides its immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by it, makes it liable for criminal action in case of complaints.

 

What the rules say?

Twitter Inc is admittedly an ‘intermediary’ within the meaning of Section 2(1)(w) of IT Act, 2000, and an SSMI (Significant Social Media Intermediary) under the IT Rules 2021.

  • SSMIs are required to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal officer, and a grievance officer — all whom are required to be residents of India, according to the IT rules.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Topics Covered: Cybersecurity related issues.

Section 66A of the IT Act:


Context:

The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Centre on the use of Section 66A of the IT Act that was scrapped several years ago and said that it is shocking that the judgment striking down the law has not been implemented even now.

 

What’s the issue?

Even after 7 years of the law being struck down, as of March 2021, a total of 745 cases are still pending and active before the district courts in 11 states, wherein the accused persons are being prosecuted for offences under Section 66A of the IT Act.

 

Background:

Section 66A had been dubbed as “draconian” for it allowed the arrest of several innocent persons, igniting a public outcry for its scrapping. This had led to the Supreme Court striking it down as unconstitutional in March, 2015 in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India.

 

Why SC struck down section 66A?

The SC had noted that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech, under article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution, and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right and the definition of offences under the provision was open-ended and undefined.

  • The court also said that the provision used expressions “completely open-ended and undefined” and every expression used was “nebulous” in meaning.
  • What may be offensive to one may not be offensive to another.
  • What may cause annoyance or inconvenience to one may not cause annoyance or inconvenience to another.
  • Even the expression ‘persistently’ is completely imprecise.

 

What is Section 66A all about?

Section 66A defines the punishment for sending “offensive” messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet. A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Section 66A of the IT Act.
  2. Implementation.
  3. Exceptions.
  4. Why was it struck down by the Supreme Court?

Mains Link:

Critically discuss why the Supreme Court of India held the Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act unconstitutional? Examine the constitutional and commercial implications of this judgement.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR):

  • Authorities in Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) have started planning for conservation of vultures after 150 of the birds were sighted recently in the protected area.
  • Different species of vultures including Egyptian vulture, Griffon vulture, White-rumped vulture and Himalayan griffon were among the 150 individuals spotted in VTR.
  • VTR forms the easternmost limits of the Himalayan Terai forests in India. Situated in the Gangetic Plains bio-geographic zone of the country, the forest has a combination of bhabar and terai tracts.
  • Indian flying foxes can be sighted here.

There are nine recorded species of vultures in India — the Oriental white-backed, long-billed, slender-billed, Himalayan, red-headed, Egyptian, bearded, cinereous and the Eurasian Griffon.

Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC):

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry has initiated a project on Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).

  • The task has been assigned to Quality Council of India (QCI).
  • ONDC aims at promoting open networks developed on open sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols independent of any specific platform.
  • ONDC is expected to digitize the entire value chain, standardize operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, derive efficiencies in logistics and enhance value for consumers.

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