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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 10th March 2021

Today Current Affairs: 10th March 2021 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc


Disha (Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children) Bill:

The Union government informed the Lok Sabha that an inter-ministerial consultation for the Andhra Pradesh Disha (Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children) Bill, 2020, had been initiated.

  • The Bill paves the way for awarding the death penalty for rape and gang rape.
  • The Bill was reserved by the Governor for the assent of the President.
  • Bills received from States for the assent of the President are processed in consultation with the nodal ministries/departments.

Key features of the Bill:

  • It envisages the completion of the investigation in seven days and the trial in 14 working days, where there is adequate conclusive evidence, and reducing the total judgment time to 21 days from the existing four months.
  • It prescribes life imprisonment for other sexual offences against children and includes Section 354 F and 354 G in IPC.
  • In cases of harassment of women through social or digital media, the Act states two years imprisonment for the first conviction and four years for second and subsequent convictions. For this, a new Section 354 E will be added in IPC, 1860.
  • As per the Bill, the Andhra Pradesh government will establish, operate and maintain a register in electronic form, to be called the ‘Women & Children Offenders Registry’. This registry will be made public and will be available to law enforcement agencies.
  • The government will establish exclusive special courts in each district to ensure a speedy trial.
  • These courts will exclusively deal with cases of offences against women and children including rape, acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism, social media harassment of women, sexual harassment and all cases under the POCSO Act.
  • The government will constitute special police teams at the district level to be called District Special Police Team to be headed by DSP for investigation of offences related to women and children.
  • The government will also appoint a special public prosecutor for each exclusive special court.

Exercise Dustlik-2:

The second edition of India-Uzbekistan joint military exercise “Dustlik-2” started in Chaubatia, Uttarakhand.

  • Aim of the Exercise: Counter Insurgency (CI) and Counter-Terrorism (CT) operations in mountainous, rural and urban scenarios under the United Nations (UN) mandate.
  • First Edition: Took place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in November 2019.
  • Uzbekistan is important to India for security and connectivity to the Central Asian region and also Iran, it is also one alternative India has with respect to Afghanistan.
  • Security concerns stemming from the conflict in Afghanistan is one of the major challenges for India’s involvement in Central Asia.

Final Development Test Of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) System:

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has conducted the final development test of the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) System, crucial for diesel-electric submarines.

Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) System:

  • Submarines are essentially of two types: conventional and nuclear.
  • Conventional submarines use diesel-electric engines, which require them to surface almost daily to get atmospheric oxygen for fuel combustion.
  • If fitted with an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, the submarine will need to take in oxygen only once a week.
  • The indigenously-developed AIP, which is one of the key missions of the Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL), is considered one of the ambitious projects of the DRDO for the Navy.
  • The project aims at fitting the technology on India’s Scorpene-class submarine INS Kalvari around 2023.
  • The AIP system based submarines will be required to surface much less frequently, thus increasing their lethality and stealth multifold.
  • Diesel-electric submarines require them to come to the surface frequently to charge their batteries, thus their underwater endurance time is less.
  • ‘Air-independent’ propulsion technology helps to make the diesel generator less dependent on surface air.
  • While there are different types of AIP systems being pursued internationally, fuel cell-based AIP of NMRL is unique as the hydrogen is generated onboard.

Vaccine Passports:

Governments around the world are exploring the potential use of vaccine passports as a way of reopening the economy by identifying those protected against the coronavirus.

  • A vaccine passport is an e-certificate that stores and records jabs and Covid-19 test status.
  • It can be kept in a smartphone app or in other digital formats.
  • Its contents can be flashed at security checkpoints when people travel across borders.
  • The idea is modeled on the proof of vaccination that several countries required even before the pandemic.
  • Travelers from many African countries to the USA or India are required to submit proof that they have been vaccinated against diseases such as yellow fever.
  • In February 2021, Israel became the first country to introduce a certification system that allows those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 to access certain facilities and events.

The function of Vaccine Passports:

  • Will digitize vaccination records across countries.
  • Supposed to function as proof that the holder has been vaccinated against Covid-19 and is, therefore, safe.

The benefit of the Vaccine Passports:

  • The primary benefit will be to the tourism and the hospitality industries, which are both seen as being at the heart of the Covid-19 spread and are the worst hit by the pandemic.
  • International air travel, which suffered massively because of the outbreak.

Editors Guild Of India:

The Editors Guild of India flagged the Group of Ministers (GoM) report on the government’s media strategy as an example of the government’s “increasingly draconian attitude” towards any criticism.

  • The GoM, whose members include five Cabinet Ministers and four Ministers of State, was set up in mid-2020.

Editors Guild of India:

  • The Editors Guild was founded in 1978 with the twin objectives of protecting press freedom and for raising the standards of editorial leadership of newspapers and magazines.
  • Recommendations from Group of Ministers (GoM) Report on Media Strategy:
    • Identifying and engaging journalists – who had lost jobs but have been “supportive or neutral” to the present government – in various ministries so that their services could be used to project the government’s image positively.
    • Further, the government should have an increased engagement with journalism schools as part of its long-term strategy since present students are future journalists.
  • Engaging with Foreign Media and NRIs:
    • There should be regular interaction with foreign media journalists as part of the government’s global outreach so that “its perspective” is put out correctly in the international forum.
    • An effective system of communication with the NRI community should be established so that they can raise their voice against negative narratives in foreign countries.

National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP):

The Centre must increase the “meagre” pensions provided for poor senior citizens, widows, and disabled people said the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development in its report submitted to the Lok Sabha.

  • The Committee observed that under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), meagre amount of assistance ranging from ₹200 to ₹500 per month is provided under the different components of this Scheme.
  • The panel had previously urged the increase of these minuscule pensions in its reports on the Department of Rural Development’s (DoRD) demand for grants in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
  • The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Government of India that provides financial assistance to the elderly, widows and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions.
  • The scheme is administered by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India.

The National Assistance Program consists of five sub-schemes:

  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)
  • Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS)
  • Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS)
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)
  • Annapurna Scheme

Rationalization Of Both Freight And Passenger Fares:

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways has suggested rationalisation of both freight and passenger fares.

  • The losses incurred by the railways in passenger services purportedly due to the social service obligations which include pricing tickets at fares lower than costs and passenger concessions.
  • The railways incur losses to the tune of Rs. 35,000-38,000 crore a year in the passenger segment.
  • Revenues from passenger services further deteriorated due to the suspension of operations during Covid-19.
  • Operating Ratio: Noted the regular deterioration in Railways Operating Ratio (OR).
  • OR indicates how much the Railways spend to earn a rupee. It helps determine the financial health of the Railways.
    • For 2020-21, it is estimated to be 131.4%.
    • For 2021-22, Railways is targeting OR of 96.15%.

Independent Environment Regulator:

The Supreme Court (SC) asked the government to explain the reasons for not setting up an “Independent Environment Regulator” to oversee green clearances.

  • SC had ordered the setting up of a national environment regulatory body under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to ensure independent oversight of green clearances way back in Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited v. Union of India case (2011), commonly known as the Lafarge mining case.

Envisaged Functions of the Regulator :

  • The regulator will carry out independent, objective, and transparent appraisal and approval of projects for environmental clearances.
  • It will also monitor the implementation of the conditions laid down in the clearances and impose penalties on polluters.
  • While exercising such powers, the regulator will ensure the National Forest Policy, 1988 is duly implemented.

Maitri Setu’ Between India And Bangladesh:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated ‘Maitri Setu’ between India and Bangladesh.

  • The bridge ‘Maitri Setu’ has been built over the Feni river which flows between the Indian boundary in Tripura State and Bangladesh.
  • The 1.9 Km long bridge joins Sabroom (in Tripura) with Ramgarh (in Bangladesh).
  • The name ‘Maitri Setu’ symbolizes growing bilateral relations and friendly ties between India and Bangladesh.
  • The construction was taken up by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd at a project cost of Rs 133 crore.
  • With this bridge, Tripura is set to become the ‘Gateway of North East’ with access to Chittagong Port of Bangladesh, which is just 80 km from Sabroom.
  • PM Modi also laid the foundation stone for setting up an Integrated Check Post at Sabroom.

Udupi Ramachandra Rao:

Google is celebrating the 89th birthday of renowned Indian professor and scientist Udupi Ramachandra Rao, remembered by many as “India’s Satellite Man.” The doodle features a sketch of Professor Rao with a background of the Earth and shooting stars.

  • Udupi Ramachandra Rao (1932 – 2017) was an Indian space scientist and chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
  • He supervised the 1975 launch of India’s first satellite –“Aryabhata”-one of over 20 satellites he developed that transformed much of rural India by advancing communication and meteorological services.
  • He developed rocket technology such as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which has launched over 250 satellites.
  • He was also the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and Nehru Planetarium at Bengaluru and chancellor of the Indian Institute for Space Science and Technology (IIST) at Thiruvananthapuram.
  • Rao was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1976, and Padma Vibhushan in 2017.
  • He was inducted into the Satellite Hall of Fame, Washington in 2013.
  • With this, he became the first Indian to be inducted.
  • He was also to be inducted into International Astronautics Federation (IAF) in 2016. He was also the first Indian again to achieve such a feat.

Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act in 2019:

There has been an over a 72% increase in the number of persons arrested under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act) in 2019 compared to the year 2015, data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Lok Sabha show.

  • As many as 1,948 persons were arrested under the UAPA in 1,226 cases registered across the country in 2019. From 2015 till 2018, the cases registered under the Act annually stood at 897, 922, 901, and 1,182 respectively, while the number of arrests was 1,128, 999, 1,554, and 1,421.
  • In 2019, the highest number of such cases were registered in Manipur (306), followed by Tamil Nadu (270), Jammu & Kashmir (255), Jharkhand (105), and Assam (87) cases.
  • The highest number of arrests in the same year was made in Uttar Pradesh (498), followed by Manipur (386), Tamil Nadu (308), Jammu & Kashmir (227), and Jharkhand (202).
  • The government had declared 42 organizations as terrorist organizations and listed their names in the First Schedule of the UAPA
  • Only 2.2 % of cases registered under the UAPA between 2016-2019 ended in convictions by court
  • Cases under the UAPA are investigated by the State police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
  • Under the UAPA, getting bail is rare and the investigating agency has up to 180 days to file a charge sheet.