Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 12th September 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 12th September 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

 

 

Contents:

  1. Climate-Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0:
  2. Virtual Courts:
  3. EC revises timeline for candidates::
  4. Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems:
  5. .Net Present Value of Forests:
  6. .Five Point Plan::
  7. .Jammu and Kashmir Integrated Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (JK-IGRAMS)::
  8. Other important current affairs

 

1. Climate-Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0:

Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0, along with the ‘Streets for People Challenge’.

  • Climate-Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0:
  • The objective of CSCAF is to provide a clear roadmap for cities towards combating Climate Change while planning and implementing their actions, including investments.
  • CSCAF initiative intends to inculcate a climate-sensitive approach to urban planning and development in India.
  • The framework has 28 indicators across five categories namely; (i) Energy and Green Buildings, (ii) Urban Planning, Green Cover & Biodiversity, (iii) Mobility and Air Quality, (iv) Water Management and (v) Waste Management.
  • The Climate Centre for Cities under National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is supporting MoHUA in the implementation of CSCAF.

Streets for People Challenge:

  • The Streets for People Challenge is the response to the need for making the cities more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.
  • The Challenge builds on the advisory issued by the Ministry for the holistic planning for pedestrian-friendly market spaces, earlier this year.
  • The Challenge will support cities across the country to develop a unified vision of streets for people in consultation with stakeholders and citizens.
  • Fit India Mission, under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, along with the India program of the Institute for Transport Development and Policy (ITDP) has partnered with the Smart Cities Mission to support the challenge.

 

2.Virtual Courts:

Parliamentary Panel on Law and Justice has Submitted its report “Functioning of the Virtual Courts/ Courts Proceedings through Video-Conferencing”.:

  • This is the first report to be presented by any parliamentary panel on the impact of the pandemic.

Key recommendations:

  • Continue virtual courts even in a post-COVID scenario.
  • Transfer of certain categories of cases, like cases pertaining to traffic challans or other petty offenses, from regular court establishments to virtual courts will reduce the pendency of cases.
  • Infrastructure needs to be upgraded especially in district courts to implement this.
  • Ministry of Law and Justice and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology should address data privacy and data security concerns while developing a new platform for India’s judicial system.

The present infrastructure does not support virtual court proceedings.

  • Almost 50% of lawyers, particularly in district courts, do not have any laptop or computer facility.
  • Many witnesses have said the virtual court hearings, especially during peak hours when many people log into the video-conferencing system, was subject to frequent crashes of the system and said entire proceedings can be vitiated by one glitch.
  • There were also concerns that virtual courts will compromise privacy of data as well as the confidentiality of discussions and court proceedings (For instance, courts in the United States had to deal with Zoom bombing an unwanted intrusion by hackers and internet trolls into a video conference call).

Virtual courts:

  • Virtual Court is a concept aimed at eliminating presence of litigants or lawyers in the court and adjudication of the case online.
  • An e-court or Electronic Court means a location in which matters of law are adjudicated upon, in the presence of qualified Judge(s), and which has a well-developed technical infrastructure.

 

3.EC revises timeline for candidates::

The Election Commission (EC) has decided to revise the timeline for political parties and candidates to publish details of the criminal antecedents of the nominees.

Revised guidelines:

  • The candidates as well as the political parties, regarding candidates nominated by them, will publish the details of criminal antecedents, if any, in newspapers and television in following manner:
  • First publicity: Within the first 4 days of the last date of withdrawal.
  • Second publicity: Within 5th to 8th day of last date of withdrawal
  • Third publicity: From 9th day till the last day of the campaign, i.e. two days prior to the date of the poll)
  • This timeline will help the voters in exercising their choices in a more informed manner.
  • Uncontested winner candidates as well as the political parties who nominate them shall also publicize the criminal antecedents if any, as prescribed for other contesting candidates and political parties.

Background:

  • The electoral reform related to publicity of criminal antecedents was set in motion by the Supreme Court (SC) in September 2018 when it had asked political parties to publicize criminal antecedents of contestants in news media.
  • Earlier this year, the SC had directed that political parties fielding candidates with criminal records must tell the public why they had chosen them over those with clean records along with detailed information about candidates with criminal cases pending against them, including the nature of the offenses.

 

4.Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems:

The Results of the 2nd edition of Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems were released by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (Ministry of Commerce & Industry).

  • DPIIT has recently released the Ease of Doing Business Rankings of the States-2019 based on the State Business Reform Action Plan.

Key Points

  • Objectives: The rankings were started with an objective of fostering competitiveness, mutual learning and propel States and Union Territories (UTs) to work proactively towards uplifting the startup ecosystem.
  • Framework: The 2019 Ranking Framework has seven broad reform areas consisting of 30 action points ranging from institutional support, easing compliances, relaxation in public procurement norms, incubation support, seed funding support, venture funding support, and awareness and outreach.
  • Participation: 22 States and 3 Union Territories.
  • 2 Categories: To establish uniformity and ensure standardization in the ranking process, States and UTs have been divided into two groups.
    • Category Y: All UTs except Delhi and all States in North East India except Assam.
    • Category X: All other States and UT of Delhi.
  • Results: The States and UTs were classified as: Best Performers, Top Performers, Leaders, Aspiring Leaders, and Emerging Startup Ecosystems.
  • Gujarat was the Best performer in Category X followed by Karnata and Kerala. Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu occupied the lowest positions.
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands were the Best performer in Category Y. Sikkim secured the bottom place.
    Gujarat had secured the Best Performer position the previous year as well.

 

5.Net Present Value of Forests:

The Ministry of Mines has requested the Forest Advisory Committee (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change) to exempt digging exploratory boreholes from Net Present Value (NPV).

  • In 2018, the Ministry of Coal, the Ministry of Mines, and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had sought to be exempted from forest clearances for exploratory boreholes.

Key Points

  • Exploratory Boreholes: An exploratory borehole is drilled for the purpose of identifying the characteristics, location, quantity and quality of a resource (coal, metal, or petroleum).
  • It is a part of prospecting a site for future use for mining and extraction activities.
  • Net Present Value (NPV): It is a mandatory one-time payment that a user has to make for diverting forestland for non-forest use, under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
  • Calculation: This is calculated on the basis of the services and ecological value of the forests.
  • It depends on the location and nature of the forest and the type of industrial enterprise that will replace a particular parcel of forest.
  • These payments go to the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) and are used for afforestation and reforestation.
  • The CAF is managed by the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
  • The Forest Advisory Committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) decides on whether forests can be diverted for projects and the NPV to be charged.
  • It is a statutory body constituted by the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980
  • Some projects have been provided exemption from paying NPV like construction of Schools, Hospitals, village tanks, laying down of optical fibre etc. Projects like underground mining and wind energy plants have been given a 50% exemption from NPV.

Background:

  • In the N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India case, 2008, the Supreme Court mandated the payment of NPV.
  • The Kanchan Gupta Committee developed the concept of NPV after this case.
  • Argument by Ministry of Mines: All areas of exploration are not converted into mining. Only about 1% of cases are converted to mining.
  • Payment of NPV at a present rate of 2% or 5% NPV of the total forest area in the lease area is one of the major challenges which leads to delay in the exploration/ prospecting activities.
  • Response from the Forest Advisory Committee: While it was not possible to do away with NPV, it recommended that the MoEF&CC may consider charging NPV on a per borehole basis instead of the present practice of charging 2 or 5%

 

6.Five Point Plan::

India and China have agreed on a five points plan to disengage troops and reduce tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a four and a half month-long stand-off.

  • The move came after the talks between India’s External Affairs Minister and his Chinese counterpart, on the margins of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Russia.

Five Point Plan:

  • Both sides should take guidance from Wuhan and Mahabalipuram summits on developing India-China relations, that includes not allowing differences to become disputes.
  • Border troops should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain a proper distance, and ease tensions.
  • The two sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocols on China-India boundary affairs and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
  • Continuing communications through the Special Representatives mechanism, and meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on border affairs.
  • The Special Representatives (SRs) on the Boundary Question was established in 2003.
  • It provided important guidance for ensuring peace and tranquility in border areas in a challenging situation.
  • WMCC was established in 2012.

 

7.Jammu and Kashmir Integrated Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (JK-IGRAMS)::

  • Launched on pilot basis for Jammu, Srinagar, and Reasi districts.
  • The system will replace the current portal launched by the government in 2018.
  • This is the first UT that will be linked to the central government system—CPGRAMS.
  • Deputy Commissioners have been placed at the primary level for receiving, disposing of, and monitoring grievances, the J&K administration.
  • All SPs and DCs will be made available at designated times five days a week.
  • They will be available in their offices and anyone can go and meet them.
  • The move comes at a time when a sense of disconnection and alienation has been growing among the people, especially in the Kashmir Valley, which has remained on edge ever since J&K’s special status was revoked last year.

Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS).:

  • Developed by National Informatics Centre (Ministry of Electronics & IT [MeitY]), in association with Directorate of Public Grievances (DPG) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).
  • The underlying idea was to receive, redress and monitor the grievances of the public.
  • Launched by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions.
  • The CPGRAMS provides the facility to lodge a grievance online from any geographical location.
  • It enables the citizen to track online the grievance being followed up with Departments concerned and also enables DARPG to monitor the grievance.
  • The procedure includes designating a senior officer as the Director of Grievances/Grievance officer in every office to ensure that the system remains accessible, simple, quick, fair and responsive, and fixing the time limit for disposal of work relating to public grievances and staff grievances.

 

Other important current affairs:

1. India, being one the hardest-hit major economy due to Covid-19, faces the challenge of managing its fiscal deficit.

  • Borrowing more and monetizing the deficit are the options being considered by the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to finance the fiscal deficit.
  • As per the official data, the Centre’s fiscal deficit for the first three months of fiscal 2020-21 (April-June) was Rs. 6.62 lakh crore, which is 83% of the budgeted target for the whole year.
  • As per the economists, the fiscal deficit may end up as high as 8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), far exceeding the budget’s goal of 3.5%.
  • The GDP contracted by 23.9% in the first (April-June) quarter of 2020 compared to the same period (April-June) in 2019.
  • The manufacturing sector is also contracting, as per the recent IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).
  • The output of eight core industries contracted for the fourth consecutive month – shrinking by 15% in June 2020.
  • The Financial Stability Report from RBI also shows an increase in bad loans and Non-Performing Assets (NPA).

2. A recent analysis of samples of patients with the Covid-19 infection has shown a phenomenon called a ‘bradykinin storm’.

  • Doctors treating Covid-19 patients often cannot identify the severity with which the SARS-CoV-2 virus seems to affect some people and ‘bradykinin storm’ might explain the working of the virus in the body.
  • However, the cytokine storm is able to explain certain causes for the rapid deterioration in some patients with Covid-19.
  • The bradykinin hypothesis:
    • SARS-CoV-2 uses a human enzyme called ACE2 to enter into the cells of its host.
    • ACE2 lowers blood pressure in the human body and works against another enzyme known as ACE (which has the opposite effect).
    • The virus causes the levels of ACE to fall in the lungs and consequently pushes up the levels of ACE2.
    • This happens as a chain reaction and increases the levels of the molecule bradykinin in the cells, causing a bradykinin storm.
    • Bradykinin is a compound that is related to pain sensation and lowering blood pressure in the human body.
    • Bradykinin storm causes the blood vessels to expand and become leaky, leading to swelling of the surrounding tissue.
    • Increase in hyaluronic acid: The levels of a substance called hyaluronic acid also increases.
    • Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that occurs naturally in the skin, and it helps to bind water to collagen (a protein).
    • It can absorb more than 1,000 times its own weight in water to form a hydrogel.
  • The bradykinin storm-induced leakage of fluid into the lungs combined with the excess hyaluronic acid would likely result in a Jello-like substance that prevents oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide in the lungs of severely affected Covid-19 patients.

3. Sonamura-Daudkandi inland waterway route between India and Bangladesh was operationalized.

  • Daudkandi is in Bangladesh, while Sonamura is in Tripura, India.
  • Sonamura-Daudkandi Route: The inland waterway route over river Gumati was included in the list of Indo-Bangla Protocol (IBP) routes in May 2020.
  • It connects Tripura with the National Waterways of India through Bangladesh.
  • It will improve the connectivity of Tripura and the adjoining States with Indian and Bangladesh’s economic centers and will help the hinterland of both the countries.
  • It will open up new avenues for economic development in both countries.
  •  Bangladesh and India have a long-standing and time-tested Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways.
  • It provides inland waterways connectivity between the two countries, particularly with the North Eastern Region of India, and also enhances bilateral trade.
  • This Protocol was first signed in 1972.
  • It was last renewed in for five years with a provision for its automatic renewal for a further period of five years.

4.PM CARES Fund has received an exemption from all provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

  • However, it is alleged that PM CARES does not meet the precondition of being a body established and owned by the government whose accounts are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG).
  • In July 2011, the Home Ministry issued an order exempting all bodies established by a Central or State Act which are required to have their accounts audited by the CAG.
  • Earlier this year, on January 30, 2020, it issued a fresh order superseding the previous one, “to exempt organizations (not being a political party), constituted or established by or under a Central Act or a State Act or by any administrative or executive order of the Central Government or any State Government and wholly owned by the respective Government and required to have their accounts compulsorily audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) or any of the agencies of the CAG”.
  • PM CARES Fund cannot be exempted
    • It was not set up through a Central or State Act.
    • It has argued that it is not a public authority under RTI.
    • The Fund is audited by an independent auditor, not by the CAG.

5. International Day For South-South Cooperation is being observed on 12 September

  • To highlight the importance of South-South Cooperation, the General Assembly in its resolution 58/220 decided to observe the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation on 12 September every year.
  • The date commemorates the adoption in 1978 of the “Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (BAPA)” by 138 Member States.
  • The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation celebrates the economic, social and political developments made in recent years by regions and countries in the south and highlights the UN’s efforts to work on technical cooperation among developing countries.

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