Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 8th October 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 8th October 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

 

Contents:

  1. Ratification of seven chemical
  2. Supreme Court on Right to Protest:
  3. Star campaigner:
  4. Contempt of Court::
  5. Krishna and Godavari river management boards (KRMB and GRMB).:
  6. Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2020:
  7. H-1B non-immigrant visas:
  8. Extreme Poverty Projection:
  9. Other important current affairs

1.Ratification of seven chemical:

The Union Cabinet has approved the ratification of seven chemicals listed under Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

  • The Cabinet further delegated its powers to ratify chemicals under the Stockholm Convention to Union Ministries of External Affairs (MEA) and Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) in respect of POPs for streamlining the procedure.

Key Points

  • Persistent Organic Pollutants are identified as chemical substances that are characterized by:
    • Persistence in the environment.
    • Bio-accumulation in the fatty acids in living organisms.
    • Less soluble in water.
  • Exposure to POPs can lead to cancer, damage to central & peripheral nervous systems, diseases of the immune system, reproductive disorders, and interference with normal infant and child development.
  • The property of long-range environmental transport (LRET) makes them spread widely in the atmosphere.

The Stockholm Convention:

  • It is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from POPs.
  • It was opened for signature in 2001 in Stockholm (Sweden) and became effective in 2004.
  • POPs are listed in various Annexes to the Stockholm Convention after thorough scientific research, deliberations, and negotiations among member countries.

 

2.Supreme Court on Right to Protest:

The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the right to peaceful protest against the law but also cleared that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied and that too indefinitely.

  • The ruling came after a petition was filed in the SC highlighting problems caused by the protests which led to the roadblock and traffic problems.
  • Sit-in protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 were organized in the Shaheen Bagh area of the capital from December 2019 to March 2020.
  • The petition highlighted that the Delhi High Court (HC) should have intervened positively and not left the situation fluid and the administration too should have talked to the protesters.
  • Earlier, the petition was filed in Delhi HC, which heard and disposed of the plea the same day without any specific direction.
  • Despite a lapse of a considerable period of time, there was neither any negotiations nor any action by the administration.
  • Protesters did not fully realize the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic and continued large gatherings in a small place and there was also a general unwillingness to relocate to another site.
  • The protest seemed typical of the many digitally-fuelled “leaderless” dissent seen in modern times.
  • The presence of various groups of protesters had resulted in many influencers, acting possibly at cross-purposes with each other.

On Assembly:

  • The court cannot accept the plea of the applicants (who sought to intervene in the matter in defense of the protesters) that an indeterminable number of people can assemble whenever they choose to protest.
  • Such kind of occupation of public ways, whether at the site in question or anywhere else for protests, is not acceptable and the administration should take action to keep the areas clear of encroachments or obstructions.
  • It highlighted that the State or UT administrations have the entire responsibility to prevent encroachments in public spaces and should not wait for courts to pass suitable orders.

 

3.Star campaigner:

The Election Commission has revised norms for star campaigners for polls during the pandemic.

  • The maximum number of star campaigners reduced from 40 to 30 for a recognized party.
  • For unrecognized registered parties, the number of star campaigners has been reduced from 20 to 15.
  • Besides, they now require permission from the district election official 48 hours prior to campaigning.

Star campaigners:

  • They can be described as persons who are nominated by parties to campaign in a given set of Constituencies.
  • These persons are, in almost all cases, prominent and popular faces within the Party.
  • However, there are no specific definitions according to law or the Election Commission of India.

Benefits:

  • The expenditure incurred on campaigning by such campaigners is exempt from being added to the election expenditure of a candidate.
  • However, this only applies when a star campaigner limits herself to a general campaign for the political party she represents.

If a candidate or her election agent shares the stage with a star campaigner at a rally, then the entire expenditure on that rally, other than the travel expenses of the star campaigner, is added to the candidate’s expenses.

  • Even if the candidate is not present at the star campaigner’s rally, but there are posters with her photographs or her name on display, the entire expenditure will be added to the candidate’s account.
  • This applies even if the star campaigner mentions the candidate’s name during the event.
  • When more than one candidate shares the stage, or there are posters with their photographs, then the expenses of such rally/meeting are equally divided between all such candidates.

 

4.Contempt of Court::

  • Gujarat HC holds lawyers guilty in a criminal contempt case.
  • While the basic idea of contempt law is to punish those who do not respect the orders of the courts, in the Indian context, contempt is also used to punish speech that lowers the dignity of the court and interferes with the administration of justice.

Contempt of court can be of two kinds:

  • Civil, that is the willful disobedience of a court order or judgment or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
  • Criminal, that is written or spoken words or any act that scandalizes the court or lowers its authority or prejudices or interferes with the due course of a judicial proceeding or interferes/obstructs the administration of justice.

Provisions:

  • Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.
  • Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 defines the power of the High Court to punish contempts of its subordinate courts.
  • The Constitution also includes contempt of court as a reasonable restriction to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, along with elements like public order and defamation.

 

5. Krishna and Godavari river management boards (KRMB and GRMB).:

The Centre recently said that it will determine the jurisdictions of the Krishna and Godavari river management boards (KRMB and GRMB).

  • It was announced during the meeting of the apex council involving the Centre, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • The meeting was held primarily to resolve the conflict between the two States over executing irrigation projects and sharing water from the Krishna and Godavari rivers.

Background:

  • The apex council has been constituted by the Central Government under the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act (APRA), 2014.
  • It supervises the functioning of the Godavari River Management Board and Krishna River Management Board.
  • It comprises the Union Jal Shakti Minister and the Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The two states would submit Detailed Project Reports (DPR) of new irrigation projects for appraisal and sanction by the apex council.
  • The apex council would work towards establishing a mechanism to determine the share of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the Krishna and Godavari waters.
  • The center is expected to refer water sharing issues to the Krishna Godavari tribunal.
  • The headquarters of the KRMB would be located in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Telangana Chief Minister agreed to withdraw the case filed in Supreme Court, to allow the Centre to refer water sharing issues to the Krishna Godavari tribunal.

 

6.Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2020:

Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer A Doudna of the USA have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, one of gene technology’s sharpest tools.

  • It is for the first time a Nobel science prize has gone to a women-only team.

Key Points

  • The CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors can be used to change the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of animals, plants, and microorganisms with extremely high precision.
  • The CRISPR/Cas9 tool has already contributed to significant gains in crop resilience, altering their genetic code to better withstand drought and pests.
  • This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences and contributes to new cancer therapies. It has the potential of curing inherited diseases.

Discovery:

  • Charpentier, while studying the Streptococcus pyogenes, a harmful bacterium, discovered a previously unknown molecule, tracrRNA.
  • TracrRNA was part of bacteria’s ancient immune system, CRISPR/Cas, that disarmed viruses by cleaving (cutting) their DNA.
  • TracrRNA is programmed to locate the particular problematic sequence on the DNA strand, and a special protein called Cas9 (also known as genetic scissor) is used to break and remove the problematic sequence.
  • Both scientists collaborated and succeeded in recreating the bacteria’s genetic scissors in a test tube and simplifying the scissors’ molecular components making it easier to use.
  • In their natural form, the scissors recognize DNA from viruses but the duo reprogrammed them so that they could be controlled and can cut any DNA molecule at a predetermined site.

CRISPR Technology:

  • The CRISPR (short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology for gene-editing was first developed in 2012.
  • It makes gene sequencing very easy, simple, and extremely efficient providing nearly endless possibilities.
  • Editing, or modifying, gene sequences is not new and has been happening for several decades now, particularly in the field of agriculture, where several crops have been genetically modified to provide particular traits.
  • The technology replicates a natural defense mechanism in Streptococcus pyogenes that use a similar method to protect itself from virus attacks.
  • A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself but the auto-repair mechanism can lead to the re-growth of a problematic sequence.
  • Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process by supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes, which replaces the original sequence.

 

7.H-1B non-immigrant visas:

The United States has issued new rules that make it harder for US companies to employ people on H-1B nonimmigrant visas.

Rules change:

  • The definitions of specialty occupation, employer, and employee-employer relationship.
  • Limit visa validity to one year for a worker at a third-party worksite.
  • Increases enforcement and investigations for these visas.
  • The new rules will impact Indian services and staffing firms who often place workers on projects at third-party locations.
  • Indian nationals have received over 70% of the H-1B visas issued over the last few years, even as the share of Indian tech companies in the top 10 visa recipients has been dropping steadily in favor of American tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon.
  • The changes will restrict access to talent and harm the American economy.
  • They would also endanger U.S. jobs, put U.S. interests at risk and slow down R&D into solutions for COVID-19 crisis.

H-1B, H-2B, L and other work visas:

  • In order to fill a vacuum of highly-skilled low-cost employees in IT and other related domains, the US administration issues a certain number of visas each year which allows companies from outside the US to send employees to work on client sites.
  • H-1B: Person is Specialty Occupation: To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree of its equivalent.
  • L1 visas allows companies to transfer highly skilled workers to US for a period of up to seven years.
  • H-2B visas allow food and agricultural workers to seek employment in the US.
  • J-1 Visas: It is for students on work-study summer programs.

 

8.Extreme Poverty Projection:

The World Bank in its biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report mentions that Covid-19 can add around 27-40 million new poor in Sub-Saharan Africa and around 49-57 million in the South Asia region.

The “new poor” will:

  • Be more urban poor.
  • Be more engaged in informal services and manufacturing and less in agriculture.
  • Live in congested urban settings and work in the sectors most affected by lockdowns and mobility restrictions.
  • Extreme Poverty Projection: The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction.

Percentage of Population: The pandemic and global recession may cause over 1.4% of the world’s population to fall into extreme poverty.
Extreme poverty: It is defined as living on less than $1.90 a day. The World Bank measures poverty lines of $3.20 and $5.50, and also a multidimensional spectrum that includes access to education and basic infrastructure.
Increase in Rate of Poverty: Global extreme poverty rate is projected to rise by around 1.3% to 9.2% in 2020. If the pandemic would not have been there, the poverty rate was expected to drop to 7.9% in 2020.

 

 

Other important current affairs:

1.Assam Cabinet has decided to request the State Election Commission to schedule the Bodoland Territorial Council election in December.

  • The elections to 40 seats in the council were to have been held on April 4 but were deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The council has been under the Governor’s rule since its dissolution on April 27.
  • As per the Sixth Schedule, the four states viz. Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram contain the Tribal Areas which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas.
  • Though these areas fall within the executive authority of the state, provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of certain legislative and judicial powers.
  • Each district is an autonomous district and the Governor can modify/divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification.

2.On March 23, the Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest against the citizenship law was cleared by Delhi police after curbs were imposed on assembly and movement of people in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The protest had been on for more than 100 days.

  • Even the apex court had appointed interlocutors to hold talks with the protesters and report back on the ground situation.
  • The judgment upheld the right to peaceful protest against the law but made it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied, and that too indefinitely.
  • It is the duty of the administration to remove such road blockades.
  • Dissent and democracy go hand in hand but protests must be carried out in the designated areas.
  • Fundamental rights do not live in isolation.
  • These rights are subject to reasonable restrictions imposed in the interest of sovereignty, integrity, and public order.

4.The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the Policy framework on reforms in the exploration and licensing sector for enhancing domestic exploration and production of oil and gas.

  • Objectives:
    • Attract new investment in Exploration and Production (E&P) Sector.
    • Intensification of exploration activities in unexplored areas.
    • Liberalizing the policy in producing basins.

5.The Indian Air Force (IAF) is celebrating 88th Air Force Day on 8th October.

  • On this day, the Air Force in India was officially raised in 1932 as the supporting force of the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom.
  • History:
    • 1933: First operational squadron.
    • The 1940s: After participation in World War II (1939-45), the Air Force in India came to be called the Royal Indian Air Force.
    • 1950: It became the Indian Air Force after the republic came into being.
  • Facts:
    • India Air Force is the fourth largest in the world after the USA, China, and Russia.
    • Headquarters: New Delhi
    • The motto of the IAF is ‘Touch the Sky with Glory’ and it was taken from the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.
    • The President of India holds the rank of Supreme Commander of the air force.
    • The Chief of Air Staff, an air chief marshal is responsible for the operational command of the air force.

6.Google is facing a new antitrust case in India. It is alleged to have abused its Android operating system’s position in the smart television market.

  • The case is Google’s fourth major antitrust challenge in India.
  • Besides, Google is also facing antitrust challenges in the U.S., and a potential antitrust probe in China.
  • Anti-trust laws Also referred to as competition laws.
  • They are developed to protect consumers from predatory business practices.
  • They ensure that fair competition exists in an open-market economy.
  • They guard against would-be monopolies and disruptions to the productive ebb and flow of competition.

7.The Cabinet has approved the reforms to push the usage of Natural Gas.

  • The government will initiate standardized e-bidding for bringing transparency in the price of Natural Gas in the country.
  • Affiliate companies will be allowed to participate in the bidding process in view of the open, transparent, and electronic bidding.
  • This will facilitate and promote more competition in the marketing of gas.
  • Marketing freedom will be granted to the Field Development Plans (FDPs) of those Blocks in which Production Sharing Contracts already provide pricing freedom.
  • Natural gas is the cleanest of fossil fuel among the available fossil fuels.
  • It is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium.
  • It is a potent greenhouse gas itself when released into the atmosphere, and creates carbon dioxide during oxidation.

8.Delhi’s air quality has entered the ‘poor’ zone on the Central Pollution Control Board’s air quality index — the first time since June 28.

  • National Air Quality Index: Launched in 2014 with the outline ‘One Number – One Color -One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity.
  • The measurement of air quality is based on eight pollutants, namely: Particulate Matter (PM10), Particulate Matter (PM2.5), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Ammonia (NH3), and Lead (Pb).
  • AQI has six categories of air quality. These are: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
  • It has been developed by the CPCB in consultation with IIT-Kanpur and an expert group comprising medical and air-quality professionals.

9.Gorkhaland Territorial Administration:

  • It is an Autonomous District Council for the Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas of the West Bengal state in India.
  • It was formed as a result of a tripartite agreement between the West Bengal government, the Centre, and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in 2011.
  • The GTA was formed to replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed in 1988 and administered the Darjeeling hills for 23 years.
  • GTA presently consists of three hill subdivisions Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik, some areas of Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district, and the whole of Kalimpong district under its authority.

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