Daily Prelims Newsletter

13 FEB 2021

Table of Contents

Science and Technology. 1

Spinal Muscular Atrophy disease. 1

Polity and Governance. 1

Public Interest Litigation. 1

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)  2

Art and Culture. 2

TholpavaKoothu. 2

Padmanabhaswamy Temple. 3

Bodies. 3

National Human Rights Commission. 3

International Relations. 4

New Development Bank. 4

News in Short. 4

Kalaripayattu. 4

Science and Technology

Spinal Muscular Atrophy disease

Why in News?

The Government of India has decided to waive off some GST amount against the import of gene therapy — Zolgensma. This therapy is required to treat a child who is suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

About Spinal Muscular Atrophy

  • Spinal muscular atrophy is a rare genetic disease.
  • The person suffering from this disease cannotcontrol the movement of their muscles.
  • It is caused by the loss of nerve cells that carry electrical signals from the brain to the muscles.
  • The protein needed for this signalling is coded by a gene. Everyone has two copies of this gene- one from the mother and the other from the father. A child develops this disorder only if both the copies are faulty.
  • Vulnerable Group: The disease most often affects babies and children. With time, it progresses and makes it extremely difficult for the babies to carry out basic activities like sitting up, lifting their head, or swallowing milk.
    • About Zolgensma Gene therapy

    • Gene therapy treatment named Zolgensma replaces the faulty gene.
    • Zolgensma works by supplying a healthy copy of the faulty gene. It allows nerve cells to then start producing the needed protein. This halts the deterioration of the nerve cells and allows the baby to grow more normally.
      • Polity and Governance

        Public Interest Litigation

        Why in News?

        Law Minister has requested judiciary to exercise discretion in accepting PILs to ensure governance and legislature should be best left to legislature.

        About PIL:

      • PIL means litigation filed in a court of law, for the protection of “Public Interest”, such as Pollution, Terrorism, Road safety, Constructional hazards etc.
      • Any matter where the interest of public at large is affected can be redressed by filing a Public Interest Litigation in a court of law.
      • PIL is not defined in any statute or in any act. It has been interpreted by judges to consider the intent of public at large.
      • PIL is the power given to the public by courts through judicial activism.
      • However, the person filing the petition must prove to the satisfaction of the court that the petition is being filed for a public interest and not just as a frivolous litigation.
      • The court can itself take cognizance of the matter and proceed suo motu or cases can commence on the petition of any public spirited individual.
      • The first reported case of PIL was Hussainara Khatoon State of Bihar (1979) that focused on the inhuman conditions of prisons and under trial prisoners that led to the release of more than 40,000 under trial prisoners.
      • The Supreme Court of India and the High Courts have the right to accept PILs.
      • The concept of PILs has diluted the principle of locus standi, which implies that only the person/party whose rights have been infringed upon can file petitions.
      • Any Indian citizen or organisation can move to the court for a public interest/cause by filing a petition:
      • In the SC under Article 32
      • In the High Courts under Article 226
        • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)

          Why in News?

          Recently, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour praised MGNREGSfor providing sustainable livelihood to the unskilled workers including the inter-state migrant labourers.

          About MGNREGS

        • Launched in 2006, it is one of the largest work guarantee programmes in the world.The primary objective of the scheme is to guarantee 100 days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work.
        • Legal Right to Work: Unlike earlier employment guarantee schemes, the act aims at addressing the causes of chronic poverty through a rights-based framework.
        • At least one-third of beneficiaries have to be women.
        • Wages must be paid according to the statutory minimum wages specified for agricultural labourers in the state under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
        • Demand-Driven Scheme: The most important part of MGNREGA’s design is its legally backed guarantee for any rural adult to get work within 15 days of demanding it, failing which an ‘unemployment allowance’ must be given.
        • Decentralised planning: Significant role of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in planning and implementing these works.
        • The act mandates Gram sabhas to recommend the works that are to be undertaken and at least 50% of the works must be executed by them.

        Art and Culture Tholpava Koothu

        Why in News?

        For the first time, the leather puppets in Kerala’s famous temple art Tholpavak koothu is being animated by a robot.

        About Tholpavak koothu:

        • Tholpavak koothu is a unique shadow puppet theatre form of Kerala.
        • It is an ancient peculiar ritualistic art form dedicated to Bhagavati, worshiped by the people of Kerala as the Mother Goddess.
        • It is performed using leather puppets at the specially constructed theatre called Koothu Madam in front of the Bhagavati temple.
        • It uses Tamil epic “Kamba Ramayana” as its basic text.
        • The language used is a dialect of Tamil with an admixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam words.
        • It is a fine example of the integration of Aryan and Dravidian cultures.
        • It is preserved as a family tradition by the Pulavars

          Padmanabhaswamy Temple

          Why in News?

          There is a financial crunch in this temple (one of India’s richest temple) due to COVID-19.

          About the temple:

        • The temple dates back to the 8th century but the present structure was built in the 18th century by the then Travancore Maharaja Marthanda Varma.
        • The temple was initially made of wood but later it was constructed with granite.
        • Main deity is Lord Vishnu who is found in the AnanthaShayana posture (reclined posture of eternal yoga) on Adishesha or king of all serpents.

        It is known to be one of the 108 holy temples associated with Vaishnavism in India.


        National Human Rights Commission

        Why in News?

        The Delhi High Court recently has sought response from NHRCon a plea related to extra­judicial killings.

        About NHRC:

        • Members: Chairman (Retd. Supreme Court Chief Justice or Judge) and seven other members (of which three are ex-officio members)
        • Appointed by: President appoints the Chairman and members of NHRC on recommendation of high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister.
        • Selection Committee Members:
        • The Prime Minister (chairperson)
        • The Home Minister
        • The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
        • The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (Council of States)
        • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of the People)
        • The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States)
        • Tenure of Service: The Chairperson and the members of the NHRC are appointed for 3 years or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
        • Eligible for re-appointment in NHRC, but not under any other central or state government.

        Key Takeaways:

        NHRC investigates grievances regarding the violation of human rights either suo moto or after receiving a petition.
        It has the power to interfere in any judicial proceedings involving any allegation of violation of human rights.

        • It can visit any jail or any other institution under the control of the State government
        • to see the living conditions of the inmates and to make recommendations thereon.
        • It can review the safeguards provided under the constitution or any law for the protection of the human rights and can recommend appropriate remedial measures.
        • It has the powers of a civil court and can grant interim relief.
        • It also has the authority to recommend payment of compensation or damages.
        • It can recommend to both the central and state governments to take suitable steps to prevent the violation of Human Rights.
        • It submits its annual report to the President of India who causes it to be laid before each House of Parliament.

        International Relations

        New Development Bank

        Why in News?

        NDB investd $100 Millionin the fund of funds (FOF) OF National InvestmentandInfrastructure Fund (NIIF).

        About NDB:

        • It is a multilateral development bank jointly founded by the BRICScountries at the 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil in 2014.
        • BRICS countries -Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa
        • It was formed to support infrastructure and sustainable development efforts in BRICS and other underserved, emerging economies for faster development through innovation and cutting-edge technology.
        • It is headquartered at Shanghai, China.

        In 2018, the NDB received observer status in the United Nations General Assembly.

        • News in Short
        • Kalaripayattu
        • Kalaripayattu is a martial art based on the ancient knowledge of the human body.
        • It originated in Kerala during 3nd century BC to the 2nd century AD.
        • It is now practised in Kerala and in some parts of Tamil Nadu.
        • The place where this martial art is practised is called a ‘Kalari’. It is a Malayalam word that signifies a kind of gymnasium.
        • The word Kalari first appears in the Tamil Sangam literature to describe both a battlefield and combat arena.
        • It isone of the oldest fighting systems in existence.
        • It is also considered as the father of modern Kung – Fu

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