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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 26 & 27 July 2020

Contents

  1. SC: Governor to abide by ‘aid and advice’ of Cabinet
  2. Kashmir saffron now has GI certificate
  3. Of mice and SARS-CoV-2
  4. Kongonaphon kely fossil
  5. Chinese Investment proposals wait for security
  6. MEA: 11 Sikhs, Hindus from Afghanistan to India
  7. Displaying country of origin made mandatory
  8. Nine of every 10 deliveries in a hospital
  9. India will send locomotives to Bangladesh

SC: GOVERNOR TO ABIDE BY ‘AID AND ADVICE’ OF CABINET

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology, Prelims

Why in news?

A Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court has held that a Governor is bound to convene a meeting of the Assembly for a floor test on the recommendation of the Cabinet.

Details

  • The five-judge Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court in Nabam Rebia versus Deputy Speaker held that a Governor cannot employ his ‘discretion’, and should strictly abide by the “aid and advice” of the Cabinet to summon the House.
  • The Governor can summon, prorogue and dissolve the House only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head, and not at his own.
  • It is an accepted principle that in a parliamentary democracy with a responsible form of government, the powers of the Governor as Constitutional or formal head of the State should not be enlarged at the cost of the real executive, viz. the Council of Ministers.
  • The Supreme Court highlighted how Article 163 of the Constitution does NOT give the Governor a “general discretionary power to act against or without the advice of his Council of Ministers”.

Does the Governor have any discretionary powers at all?

The court said the Governor’s discretionary powers are limited to specified areas like giving assent or withholding/referring a Bill to the President or appointment of a Chief Minister or dismissal of a government which has lost of confidence but refuses to quit, etc.

Article 163

  • There shall be a council of Ministers with the chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.
  • Advice tendered by Ministers to the Governor shall not be inquired into in any court.
  • The decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final and cannot be questioned.

When can the Governor call for the trust vote?

  • The court clarified that the Governor’s requirement to have a trust vote does not “short-circuit” any disqualification proceedings pending before the Speaker.
  • It said a Governor need not wait for the Speaker’s decision on the resignation of rebel MLAs before calling for a trust vote in the House.
  • But Governors cannot misuse their wide powers to call for a floor test to displace elected governments for political reasons

Click Here to read more about the No-Confidence Motion

-Source: The Hindu


KASHMIR SAFFRON NOW HAS GI CERTIFICATE

Focus: Prelims, GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

The J&K administration issued the certificate of geographical indication (GI) registration for saffron grown in the Kashmir Valley.

Details

  • Saffron crop suffers both decline in its production as well as shrinking of the land under cultivation.
  • With the GI tag, Kashmir saffron will acquire more prominence in the export market and would help farmers get the best remunerative price.
  • With the completion and inauguration of the state-of-the-art Spice Park, these measures will prove to be the game changer for Kashmir saffron.
  • The GI certification would also stop adulteration prevalent in the trade of Kashmir saffron.
  • Kashmir saffron faces stiff competition from Iranian saffron, which has captured over 90% share of the world market.

GI Tag

  • A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g., a town, region, or country).
  • India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 has come into force since 2003.
  • GIs have been defined under WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement as: “Indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or a locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.”
  • The GI tag ensures that none other than those registered as authorised users (or at least those residing inside the geographic territory) are allowed to use the popular product name.
  • Darjeeling tea became the first GI tagged product in India.
  • GI protection systems restrict the use of the GIs for the purpose of identifying a particular type of product, unless the product and/or its constituent materials and/or its fabrication method originate from a particular area and/or meet certain standards.

-Source: The Hindu


OF MICE AND SARS-COV-2

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Introduction

Science and research have always relied on using animals to understand various human diseases, and the primary reasons have been the genetic similarity between animals and humans (mice share 98% of DNA with us), and that we have developed tools to edit genes in various animals.

Animal model for a disease

An animal model for a particular disease should fulfil two criteria:

  1. It should be able to “catch” that infection (in case of infectious diseases).
  2. It should show the clinical outcomes and altered physiology that accompanies the disease.

Road blocks

  • Mice, the most widely used “models” to understand human diseases, cannot be infected with SARS-CoV-2.
  • Even the genetically altered mice that can be infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop only mild lung infection and do not show fever, while – apart from fever, sore throat, cough, pneumonia, COVID-19 infection in humans is also known to affect the heart, kidneys, intestine, and brain.

Mini organs

  • Scientists are now creating miniature 3D organ-like-structures, called “organoids” that aim to replicate a human organ.
  • These mini organs, created using stem cells, which have similar three-dimensional structure and cellular composition as human organs, and thus, are better reflective of human biology compared to animal models.
  • Infection of mini-lungs with SARS-CoV-2 showed that virus triggers a massive immune response, similar to what has been observed clinically in humans.
  • Despite their potential, many of these mini-organs currently do not have blood supply, resident microbes or immune cells.
  • Also, it is difficult to understand the holistic response based on individual organs.

-Source: The Hindu


KONGONAPHON KELY FOSSIL

Focus: Prelims, GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

A newly described species from Madagascar suggests that dinosaurs and pterosaurs (extinct flying reptiles) had extremely small ancestors – named Kongonaphon kely.

Kongonaphon kely

  • Kongonaphon kely is just 10 centimeters tall and the name roughly translates from the Malagasy language as ‘tiny bug slayer’ — a reference to its insect diet.
  • The fossils were discovered in 1998 as part of an expedition by an American–Malagasy crew.
  • Kongonaphon was alive around 240 million years ago, and during that time Madagascar was directly attached to India as part of the supercontinent Gondwana.
  • Triassic vertebrate fossils of similar age have been found in a band of rocks extending across Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
  • Nothing like Kongonaphon’s fossil has been found in these regions of India yet.
  • Such tiny ancestral body size may help explain the origins of flight in pterosaurs.

Madagascar and the Malagasy people

  • Madagascar (previously known as the Malagasy Republic) is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa.
  • The Malagasy are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the island country of Madagascar.
  • Madagascar is the world’s second-largest island country.
  • The Austronesian peoples, or more accurately Austronesian-speaking peoples, are a large group of various peoples in Taiwan, Island Southeast Asia, Micronesia, coastal New Guinea, Island Melanesia, Polynesia, and Madagascar, that speak the Austronesian languages.

-Source: The Hindu


CHINESE INVESTMENT PROPOSALS WAIT FOR SECURITY

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

About 200 investment proposals from China are awaiting security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) after new rules were notified making prior government approval mandatory for foreign direct investments (FDI) from countries which share a land border with India.

Details

  • As FDI is allowed in non-critical sectors through the automatic route, earlier these proposals would have been cleared without the MHA’s nod.
  • Prior government approval or security clearance from MHA was required for investments in critical sectors such as defence, media, telecommunication, satellites, private security agencies, civil aviation and mining and any investments from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

What does New Policy say?

  • A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI Policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited.
  • However, an entity of a country, which shares land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the Government route.
  • Pakistani investors face further restrictions in requiring government approval for FDI in defence, space and atomic energy sectors as well.
  • Investors from countries not covered by the new policy only have to inform the RBI after a transaction rather than asking for prior permission from the relevant government department.
  • The official statement added that a transfer of ownership of any existing or future FDI in an Indian entity to those in the restricted countries would also need government approval.
  • The decisions will become effective from the date of the Foreign Exchange Management Act notification.

Why was this necessary?

  • India shares land borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • With many Indian businesses coming to a halt due to the lockdown imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and valuations plummeting, a number of domestic firms may be vulnerable to “opportunistic takeovers or acquisitions” from foreign players.
  • Given the macro situation, it is a measure to protect vulnerable companies, with possibly low valuations, from unwelcome takeovers.

-Source: The Hindu


MEA: 11 SIKHS, HINDUS FROM AFGHANISTAN TO INDIA

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

  • Around 11 members of minority communities of Afghanistan, including a Sikh community leader who was kidnapped and later released, arrived in India after India granted them visas and facilitated their travel.
  • The efforts of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in extending necessary support for the safe return of these families was appreciated.
  • They will be accommodated in India under a long term visa arrangement.

Recently in news: Citizenship Amendment Bill

  • The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) is a bill introduced by the Central Government in the Parliament of India in 2019 to primarily amend the Citizenship Act of 1955.
  • The main purpose of the bill is to make certain religious communities of illegal migrants or refugees eligible for Indian citizenship – in a fast-track manner.
  • The Bill, among other things, seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians who migrated to India till the end of 2014 from countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, due to reasons like persecutions.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, in effect, seeks to give Indian nationality only to the non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
  • The countries from which minorities are allowed include Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, but not Myanmar or Sri Lanka.
  • Citizenship is granted by relaxing the requirement of residence in India for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to 5 years for these migrants.

-Source: Times of India


DISPLAYING COUNTRY OF ORIGIN MADE MANDATORY

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, has brought in a new regulatory framework for e-commerce in the country, requiring online platforms to display the country of origin of items sold, apart from new rules that will enforce product liability for the first time.

Details

Rules framed under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, covering aggregators, such as Amazon, or inventory-led models where retailers own and sell the stocks, are now required by law to specify the country where a product is made or assembled.

Other Rules

  • According to the new rules, any seller, whether online or offline, will be subject to “product liability”.
  • This means that a product manufacturer or seller will have to compensate for “any harm caused to a consumer” because of “defective products” manufactured or sold.
  • Every online entity must also provide pre-purchase information related to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee and delivery of shipments.
  • E-commerce platforms have to acknowledge the receipt of any complaint from a consumer within 48 hours and redress the complaint within a month.

Resolution of Complaints

  • Under this Act, the Central Consumer Protection Authority will be empowered to probe violations of consumer rights and institute complaint and order recall of unsafe goods and services.
  • According to the Act, an Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism of Mediation will simplify the adjudication process.
  • A complaint will be referred by a Consumer Commission for mediation when there is a scope for early settlement and if parties agree for it.
  • Mediation will be held in mediation cells under consumer commissions. There will be no appeal against settlement through mediation.

-Source: Hindustan Times


NINE OF EVERY 10 DELIVERIES IN A HOSPITAL

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

Findings of the latest survey on the state of India’s health conducted by the National Statistical Office in 2017-18 shows the proportion of women delivering a child in a hospital (or health care institution) has increased over the past two decades.

Details

  • The positive change is that at least nine of every 10 pregnant women now deliver a child in a hospital and thereby avail better health care facilities.
  • However, nearly one in 3 women who delivers a child in a hospital undergoes a caesarean-section or C-section surgery.

C-Section Concern

  • C-section surgery is a rate twice of what the international health care community considers ideal, and almost the same it is in the US.
  • Personal preferences and older mothers are part reason for this, and in some cases, profiteering, health care workers not having the time / patience / inclination to wait are also a part of the reasons.
  • The survey findings also show that it is the private sector hospitals that are largely responsible for the high rate of C-sections in India, as a result of which average Indians pays more for childbirth than they would have otherwise.
  • According to the World Health Organisation, which considers the ideal rate for C-sections to be between 10% and 15%, these surgeries are effective in saving maternal and infant lives but only when they are required for medically indicated reasons.
  • It is only in the government sector hospitals in rural India where less than 15% women give birth through surgery.

-Source: Hindustan Times


INDIA WILL SEND LOCOMOTIVES TO BANGLADESH

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

India will hand over 10 railway locomotives to Bangladesh reflecting a renewed focus on the “neighbourhood first” policy to bolster economic ties and connectivity within the region amid the border standoff with China.

Details

  • The handover of the broad-gauge diesel locomotives, part of grant assistance from the Indian side, is in line with a commitment by India.
  • India-Bangladesh railway cooperation is a vital element of efforts to promote trade and connectivity.
  • Both sides are working to enhance rail connectivity by developing new projects and restoring old links.
  • Currently, the four operational rail links between the two sides, all of which originate in West Bengal, are Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Singhabad-Rohanpur, and Radhikapur–Birol.
  • Seventeen railway projects with a commitment of about $2.5 billion were included in assistance extended by India to Bangladesh.
  • The attention given to ties with Bangladesh can be a part of efforts to overcome the impact of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) on bilateral relations.

Click Here to read more about India – Bangladesh

-Source: Hindustan Times

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