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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 23 April 2020

Contents

  1. Attacks on health workers to attract up to 7 years in prison
  2. No 100% quota for tribal teachers: SC
  3. Trump set to sign immigration order
  4. Centre, State can fix sugarcane price, says SC
  5. Indian test kits must for reliability
  6. Global remittances to witness sharpest fall: WB

ATTACKS ON HEALTH WORKERS TO ATTRACT UP TO 7 YEARS IN PRISON

Focus: GS-II Governance, Prelims

Why in news?

  • The Union Cabinet on 22nd April 2020, approved the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, making acts of violence against medical staff a cognizable and non-bailable offence and to provide compensation for injury to healthcare personnel or for damage or loss to property.
  • The ordinance proposes that in cases of attacks on healthcare workers, the investigation will be completed within 30 days and the final decision arrived at within one year.
  • A government release said the ordinance is intended to ensure that during any situation akin to the current pandemic, there is zero tolerance to any form of violence against healthcare service personnel and damage to property.

Read More Details About the Ordinance in the 2nd Article of our PIB Summary HERE -> https://www.legacyias.com/pib-22nd-april/

Read More about the Epidemic Diseases Act here: https://www.legacyias.com/curfew-like-restrictions-enforced-across-state-of-karnataka/

Why was this ordinance needed?

  • Healthcare workers are the front-line warriors in this battle, and along with other corona fighters such as sanitation workers and police officials, they are the backbone of our crisis response in this hour.
  • Public venting of angst against healthcare service personnel leading to harassment assault and damage to property is being highlighted daily.
  • Portrayal as potential spreaders of COVID-19 pandemic played havoc with the confidence of the medical community which is demanding protection.
  • They are already facing a high risk of infection as they venture into the infected areas.
  • It is absolutely essential, therefore, to ensure their safety and security and allow them to do their job with a sense of confidence.

What is an Ordinance?

  • An ordinance is a law that is promulgated by the President of India only when the Indian parliament is not in session. President promulgates an ordinance on the recommendation of the union cabinet.
  • Similarly, Governor of Indian states can also initiate ordinances only when a legislative assembly is not in session when it is a unicameral legislature and when legislative assembly along with legislative council both are not in session when it is the bicameral legislature.

Ordinance making power of the President (Article 123)

  • If at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session, the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such Ordinances as the circumstances appear to him to require.
  • An Ordinance promulgated under this article shall have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament, but every such Ordinance –
    • shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and shall cease to operate at the expiration of six weeks from the reassembly of Parliament, or, of before the expiration of that period resolutions disapproving it are passed by both Houses, upon the passing of the second of those resolutions; and
    • may be withdrawn at any time by the President. (Where the Houses of Parliament are summoned to reassemble on different dates, the period of six weeks shall be reckoned from the later of those dates for the purposes of this clause.)
  • If and so far as an Ordinance under this article makes any provision which Parliament would not under this Constitution be competent to enact, it shall be void.

Ordinance making power of the Governor (Article 213)

  • He can issue an Ordinance when one or both Houses of the State Legislature are not in session, having the force of a law.
  • The Governor is authorized to promulgate Ordinance when is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take action immediately.
  • However, the Governor is prohibited from promulgating Ordinances that contain provision, which under the Constitution require the previous sanction of the President for introduction in the State Legislature or which are to be reserved for the assent of the President.
  • In such cases, the Governor can promulgate an Ordinance after obtaining permission from the President.
  • An Ordinance issued by the Governor ceases to be in operation six months and six weeks, as is to the ordinance issued by the President. The Governor may withdraw an Ordinance any time before it expires.

NO 100% QUOTA FOR TRIBAL TEACHERS: SC

Focus: GS-II Social Justice, Prelims

Why in news?

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held it unconstitutional to provide 100% reservation for tribal teachers in schools located in Scheduled Areas across the country.

The five-judge Bench was answering a reference made to it in 2016 on whether 100% reservation is permissible under the Constitution.

What was said in the Judgement?

  • It is an obnoxious idea that tribals only should teach the tribals.
  • Merit cannot be denied in toto by providing reservation.
  • The court held that 100% reservation is discriminatory and impermissible. The opportunity of public employment is not the prerogative of few.
  • A 100% reservation to the Scheduled Tribes has deprived Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes also of their due representation.
  • The court referred to the Indira Sawhney judgment, which caps reservation at 50%.

Important quote that can be used in answer – “Citizens have equal rights, and the total exclusion of others by creating an opportunity for one class is not contemplated by the founding fathers of the Constitution of India.”

Reservations in India

  • One of the avowed objectives of the Indian Constitution is the creation of an egalitarian society, including, and especially, by way of the eradication of caste and the caste system.
  • In support of this objective, several successive governments have devised various affirmative action policies to eradicate caste and support the social mobility of backward classes.
  • These measures typically include reserving seats in representative and educational institutions or public employment for members of certain classes that have been traditionally and historically marginalised.
  • However, over time, these measures have become a tool for populism and to appease certain communities.
  • Therefore, every time such a measure is introduced, it has resulted in dividing public opinion and caused widespread controversy.

Indra Sawhney v. Union of India, (1992)

  • The Indra Sawhney case was decided by a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court in 1992.
  • This judgement upheld that the Mandal Commission’s 27 percent quota for Backward classes.
  • The case is famous for decisively laying down several landmark propositions such as 50% threshold in reservations, the bar against reservations in certain types of posts, the exclusion of ‘creamy layer’ etc.

Creamy Layer Chronology

  1. In 1980, the Mandal Commission report recommended to provide 27% reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in jobs.
  2. In 1990, the V P Singh Government declared such reservation of 27% in government jobs for the OBCs.
  3. In 1991, the Narasimha Rao Government introduced a change in order to give preference to the poorer sections among the OBCs while granting the 27% quota.
  4. In the Indra Sawhney judgment (1992), the Court upheld the government’s move and proclaimed that the advanced sections among the OBCs (i.e, the creamy layer) must be excluded from the list of beneficiaries of reservation. It also held that the concept of creamy layer must be excluded for SCs & STs.

TRUMP SET TO SIGN IMMIGRATION ORDER

Focus: GS-II International Relations, Prelims

Why in news?

  • President Donald Trump confirmed he would sign an order later on 22nd April 2020 partially blocking immigration to the U.S., in a move he argues would protect workers from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The President said on 21st April 2020 that he would stop the issuing of green cards — permanent residency permits — for 60 days, but would exempt temporary workers such as seasonal farm labourers.
  • About 22 million Americans have lost their jobs since the outbreak forced a global shutdown.
  • The U.S. is the world’s hardest-hit country, and health care infrastructure in hotspots such as New York has struggled to cope.
  • However, the executive order on immigration will likely spark court action to reverse it.

What is a Green Card?

  • A green card is a colloquial name for the identification card issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to permanent residents, who are legally allowed to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. Green cards got their nickname because they were green in color from 1946 to 1964.
  • In 2010 they became green again, but the nickname persisted during the intervening decades of blue, pink and yellow “green cards.”
  • The green card is a permanent resident ID issued to immigrants in the U.S.
  • The green card lottery gives away up to 55,000 annual permanent visas to other countries.
  • Permanent residents can be fined or jailed for not having their green card on their person.
  • Cards must be renewed every 10 years.

How a Green Card Works?

  • Individuals can be eligible for a green card through family, work, refugee, asylee status, or a variety of special programs.
  • These include the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which makes 50,000 visas available each year through a lottery system targeted at underrepresented countries.
  • Making investments above a certain threshold can entitle an investor to permanent resident status.
  • The Director of Central Intelligence can also grant green cards.

Indian Diaspora in the U.S.

  • Immigrants from India first arrived in the United States in small numbers during the early 19th century, primarily as low-skilled farm laborers.
  • In recent decades the population has grown substantially, with 2.4 million Indian immigrants residing in the United States as of 2015.
  • This makes the foreign born from India the second-largest immigrant group after Mexicans, accounting for almost 6 percent of the 43.3 million foreign-born population.
  • Indians comprise over 80% of all H-1B visas.

CENTRE, STATE CAN FIX SUGARCANE PRICE, SAYS SC

Focus: GS-II Governance, Prelims

Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court on 22nd April 2020 held in its judgement that both the central government as well as the state governments have the power to fix the price of sugarcane provided the price set by the State is higher than the minimum price fixed by the Centre.
  • The judgment was passed by a five-judge constitution bench delivered through video-conferencing.
  • Question was regarding the power of the state government to fix a minimum price for sugarcane when the Centre had already set a price for the same.

Judgement of the Supreme Court

  • The constitutional bench observed in its judgment that the price which is fixed by the central government is the “minimum price” and the price which is fixed by the state government is the “advised price” which is always higher than the “minimum price” fixed by the central government and therefore, there is no conflict.
  • It is only in a case where the “advised price” fixed by the state government is lower than the “minimum price” fixed by the central government, the provisions of the central enactments will prevail and the “minimum price” fixed by the central government would prevail.
  • So long as the “advised price” fixed by the state government is higher than the “minimum price” fixed by the central government, the same cannot be said to be void as per the provisions of the Constitution of India.

Supremacy of Centre regarding the Concurrent List

If any provision of a law made by the Legislature of a State is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament which Parliament is competent to enact, or to any provision of an existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List, then, the law made by Parliament shall prevail and the law made by the Legislature of the State shall, to the extent of the repugnancy, be void.

Exception to the supremacy of Union

There is an exception to this in cases where a law is made by the Legislature of a State with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List contains any provision repugnant to the provisions of an earlier law made by Parliament or an existing law with respect to that matter, then, the law so made by the Legislature of such State shall, if it has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his assent, prevail in that State.

Provided that nothing in this clause shall prevent Parliament from enacting at any time any law with respect to the same matter including a law adding to, amending, varying or repealing the law so made by the Legislature of the State.


INDIAN TEST KITS MUST FOR RELIABILITY

Focus: GS-II Science and Technology, Prelims

The need of the hour

  • For reliable antibody testing kits, India will have to make its own, according to independent epidemiologists and biotechnologists.
  • Much like home-based pregnancy tests, antibody tests are valuable because they give results quickly and only needs a pinprick’s worth of blood.
  • However, they can only detect antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the virus and this can take as many as 7-14 days to manifest.
  • The initial expectation was that an antibody test would soon be available. But it was the PCR technology that came first. That’s also due to the fast-moving nature of the virus.

Difference between PCR and Antibody test

  • The PCR technology is confirmatory because it identifies the SARS COV-2 based on genes, whereas the presence of viruses has usually been detected via antibody kits by the proteins produced by the virus’s genes.
  • An antibody test only tells you whether a person has ever been infected by the virus.
  • These antibodies that are produced are not necessarily specific to SARS COV-2 and could even be generated by a variety of other pathogens.
  • There are other 4 other common coronaviruses and antibodies could be generated to that too.
  • So far, nobody has found a protein that’s specific to SARS COV-2.

How are we conducting the tests?

  • The ICMR’s current recommendation is to test those who show symptoms such cough, fever and breathlessness and even a sore throat. After quarantining for 14 days, an antibody test is to be done and if positive, the person ought to be tested by RT-PCR.
  • The ICMR has underlined that tests are a surveillance tool. The utility of the test was evolving and its value was dependent on field conditions. They were not a replacement for RT-PCR tests.
  • However, with the accuracy widely ranging from 5% to 71%, there are questions on whether they can reliably help indicate the spread of the infection.

What do we need right now?

The need of the hour is to have rapidly deployable RT PCR kits.

If we can reduce the time taken for analysis, or have a paper-based strip that can detect the virus, it would be more useful.

What is RT-PCR?

  • Real time RT-PCR is a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen, including a virus.
  • Originally, the method used radioactive isotope markers to detect targeted genetic materials, but subsequent refining has led to the replacement of the isotopic labelling with special markers, most frequently fluorescent dyes.
  • With this technique, scientists can see the results almost immediately while the process is still ongoing; conventional RT-PCR only provides results at the end.
  • While real time RT-PCR is now the most widely used method for detecting coronaviruses, many countries still need support in setting up and using the technique.

Read more about the Types of Coronaviruses here: https://www.legacyias.com/three-quasi-subspecies-of-virus-in-circulation/

Read more about Antibodies and how they work here: https://www.legacyias.com/german-researchers-plan-mass-immunity-study-to-track-coronavirus-covid-19-spread/


GLOBAL REMITTANCES TO WITNESS SHARPEST FALL

Focus: GS-II Indian Economy, Prelims

Why in news?

Global remittances are projected to experience their sharpest decline in recent times — 20% — owing to migrants losing jobs and wages because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group said in a report.

This is in stark contrast to 2019 when they grew by 6.1%.

In India, remittances for 2020 are projected to fall by 23% to $64 billion.

Details

  • Remittances are crucial in low- and middle-income countries, financing household and family expenses — such as on higher education.
  • The Bank worried that as studies have shown that higher remittances improve nutritional outcomes by increasing investments in higher education, a fall in these remittances puts these outcomes at risk.
  • This is especially true at a time when households were tackling food shortages and financing livelihood needs.
  • Remittance costs for some channels in South Asia are below 3%, the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) target.

Way forward recommended

Quick actions that make it easier to send and receive remittances can provide much-needed support to the lives of migrants and their families.

These include treating remittance services as essential and making them more accessible to migrants.

World Bank

  • The World Bank (WB) is an international organization which provides facilities related to “finance, advice and research to developing nations” in order to bolster their economic development.
  • It provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects.
  • It comprises two institutions: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA).
  • The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group.

World Bank Group

The World Bank Group is an extended family of five international organizations, and the parent organization of the World Bank, the collective name given to the first two listed organizations, the IBRD and the IDA:

  1. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
  2. International Development Association (IDA)
  3. International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  4. Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
  5. International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
  • With 189 member countries, the World Bank Group is a unique global partnership: five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in developing countries.
  • The Bank Group works with country governments, the private sector, civil society organizations, regional development banks, think tanks, and other international institutions on issues ranging from climate change, conflict, and food security to education, agriculture, finance, and trade.

Introduction to the 5 organizations of World Bank Group

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) lends to governments of middle-income and creditworthy low-income countries.

The International Development Association

The International Development Association (IDA) provides interest-free loans — called credits — and grants to governments of the poorest countries. It is called the soft loan window of the World Bank. Together, IBRD and IDA make up the World Bank.

The International Finance Corporation

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. It helps developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments.

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) was created in 1988 to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries to support economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve people’s lives. MIGA fulfils this mandate by offering political risk insurance (guarantees) to investors and lenders.

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) provides international facilities for conciliation and arbitration of investment disputes.

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