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. Lack of manpower in Probe Agencies.
2. What is an electronic visa (e-visa)?
3. What is ‘Havana Syndrome’?
GS Paper 3:
1. How is Minimum selling price for sugar decided?
2. ‘SUJALAM’ Campaign.
Facts for Prelims:
1. Aranmula Boat Race.
2. ‘Be Internet Awesome’ program.
3. What is tokenisation?
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
India has decided to “invalidate” or cancel all visas issued to Afghan nationals, including about 2,000 issued in the last few months, as the Taliban began to make advances across the country.
- Now, all Afghans must enter India now only on special e-visas applied online.
The government was concerned that passports deposited by Afghan nationals for visas, which were being stored at the Indian Embassy and the Indian visa centre in Kabul, could get into the hands of anti-India terror groups. As a result, the Home Ministry decided to cancel them.
What is an e- visa?
The e-visa system is an innovation introduced by the government in 2014. The facility was expanded in 2017-2018.
- The process has its roots in the 2010 Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) scheme for Japan, Singapore, Finland, Luxembourg and New Zealand.
- The government merged the TVOA with Electronic Travel Authorisation, thereby creating the e-visa.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal ministry that issues visas to foreigners.
An e-visa also called Electronic Visa is provided in five categories—tourist, business, conference, medical, and medical attendant.
- The facility is not available for the citizens of Pakistan and they are expected to apply for regular visas from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
- E-visas are not valid for foreign diplomats which are dealt separately.
Which foreign countries have Visa free Facility? Reference:
- What is e-visa?
Write a note on e-visa scheme.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
The Supreme Court is hearing a petition about the hundreds of criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs, both sitting and former, for years together.
- Like judiciary even probe agencies suffered from the dearth of manpower and infrastructure.
- They are overburdened. For example, one trial court handles 1,000 cases.
- Some of these cases, investigated by agencies such as the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), have been pending for over a decade.
Data on pending cases against legislators:
- 51 MPs and 71 MLAs were accused of offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.
- Out of the 121 cases pending trial against MPs and MLAs before the CBI courts across the country, 58 were punishable with life imprisonment.
- In 45 cases, even the charges have not been framed, though the offences were alleged to have been committed several years ago.
- A total of 37 CBI cases against legislators were continuing in the stage of investigation for years on end now.
Challenges and causes for frequent delays:
- The High Courts intervened and granted stay of the trial.
- ED cases were held up because they spanned to tax havens abroad, which refused to cooperate with investigations.
- Insufficient special courts to exclusively try cases against MPs/MLAs.
- Shortage of prosecutors and latches in prosecution.
- Delayed investigation.
Related Orders by the Supreme Court:
- In 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered that special courts be set up across the country to fast-track the long-pending trials of lawmakers.
- In February 2020, the Supreme Court ordered political parties to publish the entire criminal history of their candidates for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections along with the reasons that goaded them to field suspected criminals over decent people.
Need of the hour:
- The Court must pass a judicial order directing lower courts to complete the pending trial proceedings in a “mandatory time-bound manner”, possibly within the next six months.
- Efforts must be made to “rationalise” the number of cases before each trial court.
- A mechanism should be put in place soon to monitor the progress of criminal trials involving legislators soon. This would include special courts.
- Recently, the court had also directed that a criminal case against an MP or MLA could be withdrawn only after getting the consent of the High Court concerned.
- Political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted.
- The RP Act should be amended to debar persons against whom cases of a heinous nature are pending from contesting elections.
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties.
Various State governments have resorted to withdrawal of numerous criminal cases pending against MP/MLA by utilising the power vested under Section 321 CrPC. What does this section state? Reference:
- Section 8 of the RP Act.
- SC guidelines.
- ECI- composition and functions.
- Powers of Election Commission on matters related to election of candidates.
Discuss the concerns associated criminalisation of politics and what the Supreme Court done to address these concerns?
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Issues related to health.
Nearly four years ago a mysterious neurological illness, referred to as “Havana syndrome”, started to afflict American diplomats and intelligence operatives in Cuba, China, and other countries.
- Now, a report by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) has found “directed” microwave radiation to be its “plausible” cause.
What is the ‘Havana syndrome’?
In late 2016, US diplomats and other employees stationed in Havana reported feeling ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes.
- The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as “Havana Syndrome”.
What causes the ‘Havana syndrome’?
Directed pulsed RF energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered.
- The immediate symptoms that patients reported including sensations of pain and buzzing sound apparently emanated from a particular direction, or occurred in a specific spot in a room.
Have you heard about Fast radio bursts detected in the Milky Way for the first time? Reference
- What are Microwave weapons?
- What is Havana Syndrome? Why is it named so?
- Reasons behind?
- Overview of electromagnetic spectrum.
What is ‘Havana Syndrome’? Discuss why it was in news recently.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.
The Union government has increased the minimum price that sugar mills must pay to sugar cane farmers by ₹5 a quintal, setting the fair and remunerative price (FRP) at ₹290 a quintal for the 2021-22 sugar season, which runs from October to September.
- Despite demands from sugar mills, however, the Centre refused to hike the minimum price at which they can sell the processed sugar, citing consumer interests.
Significance of the decision:
The decision will benefit five crore sugar cane farmers and their dependents as well as five lakh workers employed by sugar mills and related industries.
Sugar Pricing Policy:
Prices of sugar are market driven & depend on demand & supply of sugar. However, with a view to protect the interests of farmers, the concept of Minimum Selling Price (MSP) of sugar was introduced in 2018 so that industry may get at least the minimum cost of production of sugar, so as to enable them to clear cane price dues of farmers.
- In exercise of the powers conferred under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, Government has notified Sugar Price (Control) Order, 2018.
- Under the provisions of said order, the Government will fix the Minimum Selling Price (MSP).
- MSP of sugar has been fixed taking into account the components of Fair & Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane and minimum conversion cost of the most efficient mills.
Also, please note that the State Advised Prices (SAP) are announced by key sugarcane producing states which are generally higher than FRP.
Fair and remunerative price (FRP) is the minimum price at which rate sugarcane is to be purchased by sugar mills from farmers.
The Federal/Central Government announces Fair and Remunerative Prices which are determined on the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and are announced by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which is chaired by the Prime Minister.
Can government make Minimum Support Price (MSP)=Statutory Minimum Price (SMP)? Read this to understand.
- What is Minimum Selling Price?
- How is it set?
- Differences between Minimum Support Price and Minimum Selling Price.
- What is FRP?
Discuss the significance of Minimum Selling Price (MSP) for sugar.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
The Ministry of Jal Shakti has begun (From 25th August) ‘SUJALAM’, a ‘100 days campaign’ as part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
About the campaign:
- The objective is to create more and more ODF Plus villages by undertaking waste water management at village level.
- This is done particularly through creation of 1 million Soak-pits and also other Grey water management activities.
The key activities that will be organised in the villages under this campaign include:
- Organizing Community consultations, Khuli Baithaks and Gram Sabha meetings to analyze the current situation.
- Pass resolution to maintain ODF sustainability and achieve needed number of soak pits to manage the grey water.
- Develop a 100 days’ plan to undertake sustainability and soak pit construction related activities.
- Construct requisite number of soak pits.
- Retrofit toilets where needed through IEC and community mobilization.
- Ensure all newly emerging Households in the village have access to toilets.
- The campaign will not only build desired infrastructure i.e. soak pit for management of greywater in villages but will also aid in sustainable management of waterbodies.
- The campaign would boost the momentum of Swacch Bharat Mission- Grameen phase II activities through community participation.
The disposal of waste water and clogging of waterbodies in the villages or on the outskirts of the villages remain one of the major problems. The Campaign would help in management of the wastewater and in turn would help to revive the waterbodies.
What is ODF tag?
The original ODF protocol, issued in March 2016, said, “A city/ward is notified as ODF city/ward if, at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating in the open.”
What is ODF+, ODF++?
ODF+ and ODF++ were launched in August 2018 to further scale up and sustain the work undertaken by the cities after achieving the ODF status under Phase I of the Swachh Bharat Mission — Urban (SBM-Urban).
Eligibility: Cities that had been certified ODF at least once, on the basis of the ODF protocols, are eligible to declare themselves as SBM-ODF+ & SBM-ODF++.
What is ODF+?
A city, ward or work circle could be declared ODF+ if, “at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating and/or urinating in the open, and all community and public toilets are functional and well-maintained.”
What is ODF++?
The ODF++ protocol adds the condition that “faecal sludge/septage and sewage is safely managed and treated, with no discharging and/or dumping of untreated faecal sludge/septage and sewage in drains, water bodies or open areas.”
- ODF+ vs ODF++- criteria.
- Phase 1 vs Phase 2 of SBM.
- SBM Urban and Rural, implementing ministries.
- Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan vs SBM.
“Swachh Bharat Mission campaign has become the global benchmark for participatory and transformative development.” Elucidate.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:.
Aranmula Boat Race:
- It is the oldest river boat festival in Kerala, held during Onam.
- It takes place at Aranmula (situated on the banks of the river Pampa), near a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna.
- Palliyodams (snakeboats) are used in race.
- Only men of the village are allowed to be in the boat.
‘Be Internet Awesome’ program:
Google has launched the global ‘Be Internet Awesome’ program for kids in India, wherein it will partner with Indian comic book publisher Amar Chitra Katha to offer Internet safety lessons through popular comic book characters across eight Indian languages.
What is tokenisation?
- Tokenisation refers to replacement of actual card details with an alternate code called the “token”, which shall be unique for a combination of card, token requestor (i.e. the entity which accepts request from the customer for tokenisation of a card and passes it on to the card network to issue a corresponding token) and device (referred hereafter as “identified device”).
- A tokenised card transaction is considered safer as the actual card details are not shared with the merchant during transaction processing.
Why in News?
The Reserve Bank has extended the scope of ‘tokenisation’ to several consumer devices, including laptops, desktops, wearables such as wristwatches and bands, as well as Internet of Things devices, beyond the original permission for mobiles and tablets.