Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:
Today Current Affairs: 17th November 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
- Judicial disqualification:
- United Nations Peace Keeping (UNPK) missions:
- Article 32 :
- Vulture Action Plan 2020-25:
- Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey:
- Other important current affairs:
The Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed has vowed to continue the military operation in the Tigray region amid concerns it could descend into civil conflict.
- Military Operation: Abiy has declared war on the country’s Tigray region, which is ruled by the powerful Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), in response to its attack on a federal military base in Tigray.
- After becoming Ethiopia’s Prime Minister in April 2018, Abiy Ahmed reached out to the political opposition, ushered democratic reforms, lifted curbs on the media, and made peace with Eritrea – moves that won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
- Eritrea is a sworn enemy of the TPLF, which shares a long border with the Tigray region.
- He also removed TPLF from senior government positions. His push to concentrate more power in the hands of the government alienated the TPLF further.
- Abiy has formed a new political coalition, the Prosperity Party, all constituents of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), except the TPLF, joined the new platform.
- When the federal government postponed the general elections in August to 2021 citing the coronavirus pandemic, Tigray politicians accused him of a power grab and held elections, in September, in the region, in defiance of the government.
- Rising tensions led to an attack on the military base.
Tigray People’s Liberation Front:
- It is a militia-turned-party, which was part of the coalition that brought an end to the military dictatorship in 1991.
- TPLF leader Meles Zenawi took over as the interim President in 1991 and became the first elected Prime Minister in 1995.
- He is largely seen as the architect of the country’s ethno-federal system and remained in power till 2012.
- It had played a dominant role in the country’s ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF – put together by Zenawi).
- Though the EPRDF contains regional political parties such as the Amhara Democratic Party, the Oromo
- Democratic Party and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement, the TPLF remained the dominant political force.
- The Tigray people make up roughly 6% of the population, while the Oromos have a 34% share and the Amharas 27%. The Oromos have alleged marginalisation and called for better representation.
- Over the years, the government led by the EPRDF, was accused of being increasingly authoritarian and there were frequent mass protests in the regions.
- In 2018, the EPRDF chose Abiy, a former military intelligence officer, to lead the government amid growing protests and a political deadlock.
Abiy’s Stand: Abiy, the country’s first Oromo leader, claimed that his actions are not driven by ethnic calculations but rather aimed at addressing the historic power imbalance in the country and making peace with the neighbours.
- TPLF has fired rockets into Eritrea from Tigray, threatening a wider regional war in the Horn of Africa.
- The Horn of Africa houses the countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
- Rebels also fired rockets into the neighboring Amhara region. Even if Abiy is serious about keeping the operation short, it could spill out of control given the underlying complexities of the conflict. The TPLF has thousands of fighters under their command.
- Also, the Tigray region shares a border with Sudan. The TPLF enjoyed good relations with Sudan’s ousted dictator Omar Bashir.
- Sudan has an unresolved border dispute with Ethiopia. If Sudan’s new rulers keep the old links with the TPLF active and the border open for the rebels, the conflict could go on.
- Earlier this year, in the midst of Ethiopia’s long-standing conflict with Egypt over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile, Sudan had already found itself forcefully involved in the spat.
- There have also been reports of atrocities targeting civilians by both sides. Many have even fled to Sudan.
Justice U.U. Lalit of the Supreme Court has recused himself from hearing separate writ petitions that sought action against the Andhra Pradesh government and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy for leveling “false, vague and political allegations” against Supreme Court judge N.V. Ramana and other High Court judges.
- The judge withdrew from the case because he had, as a lawyer, represented some of the parties involved in the case.
- Judicial disqualification, referred to as recusal, is the act of abstaining from participation in an official action such as a legal proceeding due to a conflict of interest of the presiding court official or administrative officer.
- Motions to recuse or disqualify judges and other adjudicators have been made for all sorts of reasons.
- Most commonly such motions are predicated upon a claim that the judge is biased in favor of one party, or against another, or that a reasonable objective observer would think he might be.
- But such motions are also made on many other grounds, including the challenged judge’s:
- Interest in the subject matter, or relationship with someone who is interested in it.
- Background or experience, such as the judge’s prior work as a lawyer.
- Personal knowledge about the parties or the facts of the case.
- Ex parte communications with lawyers or non-lawyers.
- Rulings, comments or conduct.
- There are no definite rules on recusals by Judges.
- Justice J. Chelameswar in his opinion in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015) held that “Where a judge has a pecuniary interest, no further inquiry as to whether there was a ‘real danger’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ of bias is required to be undertaken”.
- Besides, In taking the oath of office, judges, both of the Supreme Court and of the high courts, promise to perform their duties, to deliver justice, “without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”.
3.United Nations Peace Keeping (UNPK) missions:
With China significantly scaling up its troop contribution for United Nations Peace Keeping (UNPK) missions, India and the U.S. are looking to undertake the training of military personnel for the missions from Southeast Asian countries on the lines of the ongoing initiative for African countries.
- India has consistently been among the top troop-contributing nations to the UN and is the fifth largest with 5,424 personnel in eight countries.
- India’s contribution to the regular budget is 0.83% and 0.16% of the peacekeeping budget.
- India has so far participated in 51 of the 71 missions and contributed over 2 lakh personnel.
- It has troop deployment in Lebanon, Golan Heights, Congo and South Sudan in addition to staff officers in other missions.
- India has also set up two field hospitals in South Sudan and one in Congo.
- Since 2018, India has co-opted a contingent from Kazakhstan at the mission in Lebanon.
The US and UN Peacekeeping:
- The U.S. on the other hand has never contributed ground troops but contributes 27% of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.
- In 2016, India and the U.S. began a joint annual initiative “UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners” to build and enhance the capacity of African troop and police-contributing countries to participate in the U.N. and regional peacekeeping operations.
- While this is going on, the U.S. is keen on a similar initiative for southeast Asian nations like Vietnam and others.
China and the UN Peacekeeping:
- It currently has over 2,500 troops in various UN missions and has committed another 8,000 troops as standby. Once implemented, it will make China the largest provider of troops to the UNPK.
- China contributes 12% of the UN regular general budget and 15% of the peacekeeping budget.
- United Nations Peacekeeping is a joint effort between the Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Operational Support.
- Every peacekeeping mission is authorized by the Security Council.
- The financial resources of UN Peacekeeping operations are the collective responsibility of UN Member States.
- According to the UN Charter, every Member State is legally obligated to pay their respective share for peacekeeping.
- UN peacekeepers (often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets) can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.
- Peacekeeping forces are contributed by member states on a voluntary basis.
- The civilian staff of peace operations is international civil servants, recruited and deployed by the UN Secretariat.
4. Article 32 :
The Chief Justice of India (CJI), during a hearing of a plea, said that the court is trying to discourage petitions filed under Article 32.
- CJI noted that there is a spate of Article 32 petitions and reiterated that the High Court can also uphold fundamental rights (under article 226).
- Article 32 of the Constitution (Right to Constitutional Remedies): It is a fundamental right, which states that individuals have the right to approach the Supreme Court (SC) seeking enforcement of other fundamental rights recognized by the Constitution.
- The SC has the power to issue directions or orders or writs for the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights.
- The writs issued may include habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari and quo-warranto.
- The right to move the SC shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by the Constitution.
- Thus, the Constitution provides that the President can suspend the right to move any court for the enforcement of the fundamental rights during a national emergency (Article 359).
- In the case of the enforcement of Fundamental Rights, the jurisdiction of the SC is original but not exclusive. It is concurrent with the jurisdiction of the high court under Article 226.
- Original, because an aggrieved citizen can directly go to the SC, not necessarily by way of appeal.
- Concurrent means when the Fundamental Rights of a citizen are violated, the aggrieved party has the option of moving either the high court or the Supreme Court directly.
- Since the right guaranteed by Article 32 (ie, the right to move the SC where a fundamental right is infringed) is in itself a fundamental right, the availability of alternate remedy is no bar to relief under Article 32.
- However, the SC has ruled that where relief through the high court is available under Article 226, the aggrieved party should first move the high court.
- In the Chandra Kumar case (1997), the SC ruled that the writ jurisdiction of both the high court and the Supreme Court constitute a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
Even as the SC underlines the powers of the high courts, it has in the past transferred cases to itself from the high courts.
- Most recently, the SC transferred the case involving land use for the national capital’s Central Vista project to itself from the Delhi High Court. Incidentally, the petitioners had not sought such a transfer.
- When such transfers are made, the petitioners lose a stage of appeal that would otherwise have been available had the high courts heard and decided the case.
- Recently, the SC also conveyed its concerns that in many matters involving personal liberty, the High Courts are not exercising their jurisdiction as constitutional courts.
5.Vulture Action Plan 2020-25:
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched a Vulture Action Plan 2020-25 for the conservation of vultures in the country.
- Vulture numbers saw a decline of as much as 90% in some species in India since the 1990s in one of the most drastic declines in bird populations in the world.
- Between the 1990s and 2007, numbers of three presently critically-endangered species, the Oriental white-backed, long-billed, and slender-billed vultures decreased massively with 99% of the species having been wiped out.
- The number of red-headed vultures, also critically-endangered now, declined by 91% while the Egyptian vultures by 80%.
- The decline in vulture populations came into the limelight in the mid-90s..
Reason for decline:
- The cause of the decline was established as diclofenac, a veterinary nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in 2004, which is used to treat pain and inflammatory diseases such as gout in carcasses that vultures would feed off.
- Just 0.4-0.7% of animal carcasses contaminated with diclofenac was sufficient to decimate 99% of vulture populations.
- The MoEFCC released the Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2006 with the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) banning the veterinary use of diclofenac in the same year.
6.Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey:
The European Space Agency (ESA) has formally adopted Ariel.
- Ariel (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey) will be launched in 2029.
- It will perform a large-scale survey of over a thousand exoplanets over a period of four years.
- The explorer that will study the nature, formation and evolution of exoplanets.
- Ariel is the first mission of its kind dedicated to measuring the chemical composition and thermal structures of hundreds of exoplanets.
- It will also help to answer one of the key questions of ESA’s Cosmic Vision Plan, which is, “What are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?”.
- As per NASA, only a handful of exoplanets have been found using telescopes and the rest have been detected using indirect methods. These include:
- Tracking the dimming of a star that happens when a planet passes in front of it. NASA’s Kepler Space telescope uses this method to spot thousands of planets.
- Gravitational lensing and the “wobbling method”, which is based on the idea that an orbiting planet will cause its parent star to orbit slightly off-center.
Other important current affairs:
1.External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently criticized globalization and trade pacts.
- He said: Trade pacts and globalization have allowed other countries ‘unfair’ trade and manufacturing advantages “in the name of openness”.
- The effect of past trade agreements has been to deindustrialize some sectors.
- The consequences of future ones would lock us into global commitments, many of them not to our advantage.
- The minister’s comments indicate that India is not considering an offer from RCEP nations to rejoin the group.
- There are concerns that India’s decision would impact its bilateral trade ties with RCEP member nations, as they may be more inclined to focus on bolstering economic ties within the bloc.
- The move could potentially leave India with less scope to tap the large market that RCEP presents —the size of the deal is mammoth, as the countries involved account for over 2 billion of the world’s population.
- Given attempts by countries like Japan to get India back into the deal, there are also worries that India’s decision could impact the Australia-India-Japan network in the Indo-Pacific.
2.The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has approved the issuance of a 10-year golden card visa for more professionals, including PhD holders, physicians, engineers as well as graduates from certain universities.
- Golden Visa is citizenship by investment or residency by investment program. It is directed to wealthy foreign nationals who want to acquire residency in a certain country by investing a substantial amount of money or by purchasing a property.
- UAE’s Golden Card Visa: It grants 10-year residency to these visa holders and their families.
- Eligibility: All holders of doctorate degrees, medical doctors and computer, electronics, programming, electrical, and biotechnology engineers.
- Those with specialized degrees in artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and epidemiology, as well as high school students living in the UAE who rank top in the country and students from certain universities with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.8 or higher.
- The changes will take place from 1st December 2020.
3.According to the 2018 report on “vital statistics of India based on the Civil Registration System”, Arunachal Pradesh recorded the best sex ratio at birth in the country while Manipur recorded the worst sex ratio at birth.
- The report was published by the Registrar General of India.
- The sex ratio at birth is the number of females born per thousand males. It is an important indicator to map the gender gap of a population.
- Arunachal Pradesh recorded 1,084 females born per thousand males, followed by Nagaland (965), Mizoram (964), Kerala (963).
- The worst sex ratio was reported in Manipur (757), Lakshadweep (839) and Daman & Diu (877), Punjab (896), and Gujarat (896).
- Delhi recorded a sex ratio of 929, Haryana – 914.
- The ratio was determined on the basis of data provided by 30 States and Union Territories as the requisite information from six States namely Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal is not available.
- Major states are states with populations of 10 million and above as per the 2011 Census.
4.The wholesale price inflation data for the month of October 2020 was released.
- The wholesale price-based inflation is measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
- Wholesale price inflation increased to the highest level in eight months, reaching 1.48% in October 2020, compared with 0% in October 2019 and 1.32% in September 2020.
- It was driven by manufactured items as per the data released by the commerce and industry ministry.
- The manufactured product group inflation hit a 19-month high of 2.1%, and core inflation accelerated to the highest level in 18 months at 1.7%.
- Core Inflation excludes volatile goods from the basket of commodities tracking Headline Inflation.
- These volatile commodities mainly comprise food and beverages (including vegetables) and fuel and light (crude oil).
- Increase in core inflation suggests an improvement in demand conditions, which have improved after the Covid-19 related lockdown was lifted.
- As a large part of this is due to festival-related demand, it will be too early to term this as a general recovery.
5.Kerala aims to provide free Internet for poor families, public offices by December.
- The project seeks to fulfill the government’s aim of making internet access a ‘citizen’s right’.
- Aims to provide free high-speed internet to over 20 lakh below poverty line (BPL) households.
- It is a collaborative initiative of the state’s power utility Kerala State Electricity Board and Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd. Internet service providers and cable television operators can also join the optic-fiber network project to provide their services.
- As many as 30,000 government offices and schools would be linked through the high-speed network, said the state government.
- The project, when launched, will be another milestone for the state that has achieved several human development indicators (HDI) that match those of first-world countries, especially in connection with health.
5.PM Narendra Modi unveils `Statue of Peace` in Rajasthan.
- To mark the 151st Birth Anniversary celebrations of Jainacharya Shree Vijay Vallabh Surishwer Ji Maharaj.
- The 151-inch tall statue has been made from Ashtadhatu ie 8 metals, with copper being the major constituent.
- Jainacharya Shree Vijay Vallabh Surishwer Ji Maharaj: The saint, who lived during 1870-1954, led an austere life, working selflessly and dedicatedly to spread the message of Lord Mahavira.
- He also worked relentlessly for the welfare of the masses, the spread of education and eradication of social evils, wrote inspiring literature (poetry, essays, devotional hymns and stavans) and gave active support to the freedom movement and the cause of the swadeshi.