DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS UPSC | 21th October 2020 | RaghukulCS

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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS UPSC | 21th October 2020 | RaghukulCS

News Analysis

21th October 2020 News analysis

> Context: WII scientists anxious about potential funding cut – Finance Ministry has recommended that institute be divested of its status as autonomous body of MoEF

Prelims facts (Environment & Ecology)

What is Wildlife Institute of India?

  • The Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change, Government of India.
  • It  was established in 1982.
  • WII carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management.
  • The institute is based in Dehradun, India.

> Context: Govt. increases poll spend ceiling by 10% – Move follows recommendation by EC

Why? – The EC had recommended a 10% increase in expenditure for all elections to be held during the COVID­19 pandemic, keeping in mind the problems that candidates may face while campaigning under the various COVID protocol laid down by the poll panel.

Prelims facts (Polity)

What changes have taken place?

  • Candidates in Assembly elections in bigger States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu now allowed to spend up to ₹30.8 lakhs as against ₹28 lakhs earlier.
  • For a candidate contesting a Lok Sabha poll in these States, the revised ceiling on poll expenditure is now ₹77 lakh instead of the earlier amount of ₹70 lakh.
  • For Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and a few Union Territories enhanced ceiling for a Lok Sabha candidate is now ₹59.4 lakhs, those contesting an Assembly seat can spend up to ₹22 lakhs.
  • Note: The notification that amended the Conduct of Elections Rules, however, does not mention that the limit has been increased in the wake of the pandemic or if it is only for the COVID­19 period.

> Context: Kaleshwaram eco-clearance violates law: NGT

Prelims facts (Geography, Environment)

What is National green tribunal?

  • The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.
  • It draws inspiration from the India’s constitutional provision of (Constitution of India/Part III) Article 21 Protection of life and personal liberty.
  • This provision assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.

What is Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project?

  • The Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project is a multi-purpose irrigation project on the Godavari River in kaleshwaram, Bhoopalpally, Telangana, India.
  • It is Currently the world’s largest multi-stage lift irrigation project.

> Context: FDI blooms in COVID­19 gloom

Prelims facts (Economy)

What is FDI?

  • A foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment made by a firm or individual in one country into business interests located in another country. Generally, FDI takes place when an investor establishes foreign business operations or acquires foreign business assets in a foreign company.

What are the advantages of FDI?

  • Human Resource Development
  • Increased Employment and Economic Growth
  • Development of Backward Areas
  • Provision of Finance & Technology
  • Increase in Exports
  • Exchange Rate Stability
  • Stimulation of Economic Development
  • Creation of a Competitive Market
  • Improved Capital Flow

What is FPI?

  • Foreign portfolio investment (FPI) consists of securities and other financial assets held by investors in another country. It does not provide the investor with direct ownership of a company’s assets and is relatively liquid depending on the volatility of the market.

> Context: Feluda tests for COVID-19 to be available by Oct. 31

Prelims facts (Science & technology)

About Feluda test:

  • The test, which still requires a nasal swab to be collected and sent to a lab, promises to be quicker than the gold­ standard test because it does not need the expensive RT­PCR (reverse transcription ­quantitative polymerase chain reaction) machine.
  • A smaller, cheaper and more portable machine called a thermocycler, which costs around ₹25,000, is employed
  •  Once the viral RNA is extracted, it takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to confirm presence of the virus.
  • FELUDA, that stands for FNCAS9 Editor­Limited Uniform Detection Assay, is also unlike antigen tests in
    that it uses a CRISPR­Cas9 based system and is therefore more accurate in detecting the virus.

What is CRISPR­Cas9 ?

  • CRISPR­Cas9 is a genome editing tool whose discovery won the Nobel Prize for
    chemistry this year. Though initially conceived to treat sickle cell disease, it can be used to hone in on a specific sequence of DNA (in this case unique to the coronavirus) and thereby infer its presence.

> Context: Enactment of laws is a sovereign prerogative, India said, responding to criticism of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

Why she criticised India? – She raised the closure of Amnesty International after it was found to be in violation of FCRA rules. She requested India to defend human rights workers, and regretted that laws were being used to punish rights reporting.

Prelims facts (Economy, International relations)

What is FCRA?

  • The Foreign Contribution (regulation) Act, 2010 is an act of the Parliament of India, by the 42nd Act of 2010. It is a consolidating act whose scope is to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest.

What are some new changes in Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 ?

  • The Bill bars public servants from receiving foreign contributions.
  • The Bill prohibits the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person.
  • The Bill states that foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as FCRA account in such branches of the State Bank of India, New Delhi.
  • The Bill makes Aadhaar number mandatory
  • The Bill allows the government to restrict usage of unutilised foreign contribution.
  • The Bill allows the central government to permit a person to surrender their registration certificate.
  • The Bill proposes that not more than 20% of the total foreign funds received could be defrayed for administrative expenses.

What is OHCHR?

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, commonly known as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) or the UN Human Rights Office, is a department of the Secretariat of the United Nations.
  • It works to promote and protect the human rights that are guaranteed under international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The office was established by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 1993, in the wake of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights.
  • Headquarter – Geneva, Switzerland

> Context: Govt. refuses to give details of CIC applicants – RTI request has been turned down – Govt. has
denied a Right to Information (RTI) request seeking further details about the candidates.

Mains (GS-II : Governance)

[Just use this example to show the plight of information agency in India & how appointment procedure of CIC itself is not transparent]

Prelims facts (Polity)

What is CIC?

  • The Central Information Commission is a statutory body.
  • It is set up under the Right to Information Act in 2005 under the Government of India to act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not have been appointed, or because the respective Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer refused to receive the application for information under the Right to Information Act.
  • Central Information Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the President of India.

> Context: China opposes India-Taiwan trade ties.

Mains (GS-II : India and its neighbourhood- relations)

Why China oppose?

  • China said “The ‘One­ China principle’ is a universal consensus of the international community, including India”.
  • The Chinese Government sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be part of the country again.
  • While some Taiwanese think this might happen in the future, others now feel that they already effectively have a separate nation whether or not independence is ever officially declared.
  • The dispute with China has left relations frayed with a constant threat of a violent flare up that could drag the US into the fray.

India-Taiwan realations:

  • India and Taiwan in 2018 already signed a bilateral investment agreement.
  • India-­Taiwan trade ties have expanded since, and Taiwanese firms are prominent investors in India, although India
  • Taiwan do not maintain formal diplomatic relations.

> Context: Russia offers U.S. freeze on Nuclear warhead numbers – It wants arms reduction deal extended

Prelims facts (International relations)

What is new start deal?

  • The New START deal was signed in April 2010 but went into force in February 2011.
  • It is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russia with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.
  • The treaty calls for halving the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers.
  • The treaty is going to end in February 2021.

> Context: Hybrid model of ‘smart’ fence being tested along the LoC

Mains (GS-III : Security challenges and their management in border areas)

  • The Army has significantly improved its electronic surveillance along the Line of Control (LoC) to check infiltration, and work on converting the existing border fence into a smart fence integrated with several sensors is under way.
  • The fence will be integrated with LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors, infrared sensors and cameras among others.

[Use this example to write about the use of technology in security and the defence in border areas]

> Context: U.S. files anti­trust lawsuit against Google – Justice Department accuses it of maintaining illegal monopoly over search

Mains (GS-IV : Ethics, GS-III : Economy)

[Use this example to write about the lack of business ethics in MNCs because the monopoly is an unethical business practice]

What is monopoly? & why it is bad?

  • A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity.
  • With higher prices, consumers will demand less quantity, and hence the quantity produced and consumed will be lower than it would be under a more competitive market structure. The bottom line is that when companies have a monopoly, prices are too high and production is too low.

> Context: Cybercrimes in India caused losses of ₹1.25 lakh crore in 2019 and cyberthreats will continue to increase as the country starts developing smart cities and rolling out 5G networks.

Mains (GS-III : Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social
networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security)

[Use this example to show the economic cost cybercrimes & importance of cyber security]

Government efforts against cybercrimes:

  • National critical infrastructure protection centre
  • National cyber coordination centre
  • Cyber worrier force
  • Defence cyber agency
  • Indian computer emergency response team (CERT-IN)
  • Cyber swacchata kendra
  • Cyber surakshit bharat initiative
  • National cyber security policy

> Context: 31% nominees in phase 1 face criminal cases for the first phase of the Assembly elections in Bihar

Mains (GS- II : polity- criminalization of politics, GS-IV : Public service values and Ethics)

Example of Loksabha : Of the 539 winning candidates analysed by the ADR, as many as 233 MPs or 43% have criminal charges.

[use these examples to highlight the criminalisation in politics]

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