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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 11 August 2021

 

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically. 

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

 

Table of Contents:


GS Paper 2:

1. Bill to Restore States’ rights to specify OBC groups.

2. What is Census?

3. What is midday meal scheme?

4. Ujjwala 2.0 scheme.

5. How is Hong Kong administered?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. South Africa grants patent to an artificial intelligence system.

 


 

Bill to Restore States’ rights to specify OBC groups

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Important constitutional amendments.

 

Context: The Constitution 127th Amendment Bill, 2021 was passed with unanimous support in Lok Sabha, recently.

  • The Bill amends the Constitution to allow states and union territories to prepare their own list of socially and educationally backward classes.

 

Need for:

On May 5, while scrapping a separate quota for the Maratha community in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court had ruled that after a 2018 amendment in the Constitution (102nd constitutional amendment), only the central government could notify socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs) – not the states.

 

Highlights of the 127th Amendment Bill:

  1. The Bill seeks to restore the power of State governments to identify Other Backward Classes that are socially and educationally backward.

Please note that In May 2021, the Supreme Court, in an order, had empowered only the Central government for such identification.

  1. The Bill amends this to provide that the President may notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes only for purposes of the central government.
  2. This central list will be prepared and maintained by the central government.
  3. The Bill enables states and union territories to prepare their own list of socially and educationally backward classes.
  4. This list must be made by law, and may differ from the central list.

 

List of socially and educationally backward classes:

The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was established under the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.

  • The Constitution 102nd Amendment Act, 2018 gave constitutional status to the NCBC, and empowered the President to notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes for any state or union territory for all purposes.

 

Consultation with the NCBC:

  • Article 338B of the Constitution mandates the central and state governments to consult the NCBC on all major policy matters affecting the socially and educationally backward classes.

 

Implications of the new Bill:

  • After passing, the 127th Constitutional Amendment Bill, 671 castes in the country would benefit from it and restore the States’ rights to make their own list of OBCs.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About NCBC.
  2. Overview of 102nd Constitution Amendment Bill.
  3. About 127th Constitutional Amendment Bill.
  4. Overview of the Supreme Court Verdict in this matter.

Mains Link:

Discuss the implications of the New Amendment Bill.

Sources: the Hindu.

What is Census?

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Population and associated issues.

 

Context:

Owing to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Census 2021 and other Census-related field activities have been postponed by the Union Home Ministry.

 

Census:

The census provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.

  • The Census was first started under British Viceroy Lord Mayo in 1872. It helped in framing new policies, government programs to uplift areas of improvement in the community.
  • The first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.

 

Who conducts census?

The responsibility of conducting the decennial Census rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

 

The Census is one of the most credible sources of information on the following:

  1. Demography.
  2. Economic Activity.
  3. Literacy and Education.
  4. Housing & Household Amenities.
  5. Urbanization, Fertility, and Mortality.
  6. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  7. Language.

 

Historical Significance:

  1. ‘Rig-Veda’ reveals that some kind of population count was maintained during 800-600 BC in India.
  2. Arthashastr by ‘Kautilya’ written in the 3rd Century BC prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for taxation.
  3. During the regime of the Mughal king Akbar, the administrative report ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth and many other characteristics.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the individual data collected in Census under the Census Act, 1948, are not made public as per the provisions contained in the Act?

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Relation between Census and National Population Register.
  2. NPR vs NRC.
  3. How NRC is related to Assam accord.
  4. Constitutional provisions wrt to grant and revocation of citizenships.
  5. Who carries out Census?

Mains Link:

Discuss why a nationwide NRC exercise may not be feasible.

Sources: the Hindu.

What is midday meal scheme?

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

A national level meet was recently organised by the National Human Rights Commission to discuss the status of various policies to ensure Right to Food and nutrition.

 

Following are the suggestions made by the experts at the end of the meet:

  1. Extend the midday meal scheme up to Class XII.
  2. Start an urban employment guarantee scheme.
  3. Come up with a public distribution system (PDS) not exclusively linked to Aadhaar.

 

About the Mid-Day meal scheme:

The scheme guarantees one meal to all children in government and aided schools and madarsas supported under Samagra Shiksha.

  • Students up to Class VIII are guaranteed one nutritional cooked meal at least 200 days in a year.
  • The Scheme comes under the Ministry of Education.
  • It was launched in the year 1995 as the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP – NSPE), a centrally sponsored scheme. In 2004, the scheme was relaunched as the Mid Day Meal Scheme.
  • The Scheme is also covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013.

 

Objective:

Address hunger and malnutrition, increase enrolment and attendance in school, improve socialisation among castes, provide employment at grassroot level especially to women.

 

The MDM rules 2015, provide that:

  • The place of serving meals to the children shall be school only.
  • If the Mid-Day Meal is not provided in school on any school day due to non-availability of food grains or any other reason, the State Government shall pay food security allowance by 15th of the succeeding month.
  • The School Management Committee mandated under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 shall also monitor implementation of the Mid-day meal Scheme.

 

Nutritional norms:

In terms of calorie intake, as per the MDM guidelines, the children in primary schools must be provided with at least 450 calories with 12 grams of protein through MDM while the children in upper primary schools should get 700 calories with 20 grams of protein, as per MHRD.

The food intake per meal by the children of primary classes, as provided by MHRD is 100 grams of food grains, 20 grams of pulses, 50 grams of vegetables and 5 grams of oils and fats. For the children of upper-primary schools, the mandated breakup is 150 grams of food grains, 30 grams of pulses, 75 grams of vegetables and 7.5 grams of oils and fats.

food_norms

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Origin of MDMS.
  2. When was it renamed?
  3. Difference between centrally sponsored and Central sector schemes? What kind of scheme of the MDMS?
  4. Financing under the scheme.
  5. Nutritional norms prescribed.
  6. Coverage under the scheme.
  7. Responsibility to pay food security allowance under the scheme.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Mid-Day Meal scheme.

Sources: the Hindu.

Ujjwala 2.0 scheme

GS Paper 2:

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.

 

Context:

The government has launched the second phase of the Ujjwala gas connection scheme for the poor.

 

About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

Launched in May 2016.

Aim: To provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.

Key features: A deposit-free LPG connection is given to the eligible household with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.

Target: The scheme gained traction with its ambit being expanded to include 80 million poor families from the earlier target of 50 million families with an additional allocation of Rs 4,800 crore.

 

Objectives of the scheme are:

  1. Empowering women and protecting their health.
  2. Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
  3. Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.
  4. Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.

 

Eligibility criteria:

  1. Applicant must a woman above the age of 18 and a citizen of India.
  2. Applicant should belong to a BPL (Below Poverty Line) household.
  3. No one in the applicant’s household should own an LPG connection.
  4. The household income of the family, per month, must not exceed a certain limit as defined by the government of the Union Territories and State Government.
  5. Applicant must not be a recipient of other similar schemes provided by the government.

 

Under Ujjwala 2.0:

  • Migrant workers would no longer have to struggle to get address proof documents to get the gas connections.
  • They workers would only be required to submit a self-declaration of their residential address to get the gas connection.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is LPG?
  2. What are Parliamentary committees?
  3. Targets and goals under the scheme.
  4. States and UTs which became kerosene- free under the scheme.

Mains Link:

It is said that the real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. For this which issue need to be addressed? Also discuss the significance of PMUY.

Sources: the Hindu.

How is Hong Kong administered?

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Effects of policies of other countries on India.

 

Context:

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam recently said she supports the implementation of a mainland Chinese law in Hong Kong to respond to foreign sanctions, the strongest signal yet that the city is set to adopt the legislation.

  • The law is proposed to be introduced through Hong Kong legislation rather than Beijing legislation, by adding it to an annex of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law.

 

What’s the law all about?

  1. Beijing adopted a law in June under which individuals or entities involved in making or implementing discriminatory measures against Chinese citizens or entities could be put on a Chinese government anti-sanctions list.
  2. Under China’s law, such individuals could then be denied entry into China or be expelled.
  3. Their assets in China may be seized or frozen. They could also be restricted from doing business with entities or people in China.

 

Why was such a law introduced?

The law comes as the United States and European Union step up pressure on China over trade, technology, Hong Kong and the far western region of Xinjiang

 

Concerns and issues associated with the law:

Critics have warned that Hong Kong’s adoption of the law could undermine its reputation as a global financial hub.

 

How is Hong Kong ruled?

It is ruled under One Country Two Systems approach.

As per the policy, the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions, both former colonies, can have different economic and political systems from that of mainland China, while being part of the People’s Republic of China.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese control on July 1, 1997, and Macau’s sovereignty was transferred on December 20, 1999.

  • The regions would have their own currencies, economic and legal systems, but defence and diplomacy would be decided by Beijing.
  • Their mini-Constitutions would remain valid for 50 years — till 2047 for Hong Kong and 2049 for Macau. It is unclear what will happen after this term.

hong_kong

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Hong Kong.
  2. When did it become independent?
  3. About One Country Two Systems approach.
  4. Highlights of the law.

Mains Link:

Discuss the implications of the law.

Sources: the Hindu.

South Africa grants patent to an artificial intelligence system:

GS Paper 3:

Topics : South Africa grants patent to an artificial intelligence system

 

Context:

Recently, South Africa, first time in the world, has granted a patent to an ‘artificial intelligence system’ relating to a “food container based on fractal geometry” innovation.

  • The innovation involves interlocking food containers that are easy for robots to grasp and stack.

 

What’s the issue now?

  • The patent has been given to an artificial intelligence (AI) system (called DABUS); not a human being.

What is the DABUS?

  • DABUS stands for “device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience”.
  • It is an AI system created by Stephen Thaler, a pioneer in the field of AI and programming.
  • The system simulates human brainstorming and creates new inventions.
  • DABUS is a particular type of AI, often referred to as “creativity machines” because they are capable of independent and complex functioning.

 

What are the ‘Creativity machines’?

Creativity machines can process and critically analyse data, learning from it.

  • This process is known as machine learning.
  • Once the machine learning phase has occurred, the machine is able to “autonomously” create without human intervention.

 

Background:

  • The patent application listing DABUS as the inventor was filed in patent offices around the world, including the U.S., Europe, Australia, and South Africa.
  • The United States Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office rejected these applications in the formal examination phase.

 

Why are some experts opposing this move?

They gave three reasons.

  1. First, their respective patent laws only provide for human inventors — not AI — as indicated by the use of pronouns such as “him” and “her” in their text.
  2. Second, ideas, for the purposes of patents, require the element of “mental conception” — something of which only a human mind is capable.
  3. Finally, inventorship comes with rights, which AI is not legally capable of possessing.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is machine learning?
  2. What are creativity machines?
  3. What is DABUS?
  4. What are IPs?
  5. Types of intellectual property rights.

Mains Link:

Comment on the implications of  latest move by South Africa.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

1. Criminalisation of politics.

2. IPCC report.


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