02 August 2022, Daily Current Affairs – THE EXAMS MADE SIMPLE

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Prelims Objective Practices Questions

(I.) Which of the following is the chief characteristic of ‘mixed farming’?
A.) Cultivation of both cash crops and food crops
B.) Cultivation of two or more crops in the same field
C.) Rearing of animals and cultivation of crops together
D.) None of the above.

(II.) Indigo cultivation in India declined by the beginning of the 20th century Because of
A.) Peasant resistance to the oppressive conduct of planters
B.) Its unprofitability in the world market because of new inventions
C.) National leaders opposition to the cultivation of indigo
D.) Government control over the planters

(III.) Wellesley established the Fort William College at Calcutta because
A.) He was asked by the Board of Directors at London to do so
B.) He wanted to revive interest in oriental learning in India
C.) He wanted to provide William Carey and his associates with employment
D.) He wanted to train British civilians for administrative purpose in India

Prelims Specific Facts

NEWS-1 LS Speakers revokes suspension of Cong. MPs
  • Who can suspend MPs?
    • General Principle:
      • The general principle is that it is the role and duty of the Presiding Officer — Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha — to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly.
      • In order to ensure that proceedings are conducted in the proper manner, the Speaker/ Chairman is empowered to force a member to withdraw from the House.
    • Rules of Procedure and Conduct:
      • Rule 373:-
        • The Speaker can direct a member to withdraw immediately from the House if he finds the member’s conduct disorderly.
        • Members so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall remain absent during the remainder of the day’s sitting.
      • Rule 374:-
        • The Speaker can name a member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.
        • And the member so named will be suspended from the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
        • A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.”
      • Rule 374A: –
        • Rule 374A was incorporated in the Rule Book in December 2001.
        • In case of gross violation or severe charges, on being named by the Speaker, the member stands automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less.
    • Rule 255 (Rajya Sabha): Under Rule 255 of the General Rules of Procedure of the Rajya Sabha, the presiding officer of the House can invoke suspension of the Member of Parliament.
    • The Chairman as per this rule can direct any member whose conduct in his opinion was not right or was disorderly.
    • Rule 256 (Rajya Sabha): It provides for suspension of members.
    • The Chairman can suspend a member from the service of the Council for a period not exceeding the remainder of the Session.
  • What are the terms of Suspension?
    • The maximum period of suspension is for the remainder of the session.
    • Suspended members cannot enter the chamber or attend the meetings of the committees.
    • He will not be eligible to give notice for discussion or submission.
    • He loses the right to get a reply to his questions.
  • What are Interventions by the Court?
    • Article 122 of the Constitution says parliamentary proceedings cannot be questioned before a court.
    • Although courts have intervened in the procedural functioning of the legislature like,
    • Maharashtra Legislative Assembly passed a resolution in its 2021 Monsoon Session suspending 12 BJP MLAs for a year.
    • The matter came before the Supreme Court, which held that the resolution was ineffective in law beyond the remainder of the Monsoon Session.
NEWS-2 GST collections jump by 28% on imports
  • It is a destination based tax on consumption of goods and services. It is proposed to be levied at all stages right from manufacture up to final consumption with credit of taxes paid at previous stages available as set off. In a nutshell, only value addition will be taxed and burden of tax is to be borne by the final consumer.
  • What exactly is the concept of destination based tax on consumption?
    • The tax would accrue to the taxing authority which has jurisdiction over the place of consumption which is also termed as place of supply.
  • Which of the existing taxes are proposed to be subsumed under GST?
    • The GST would replace the following taxes:
      • Taxes currently levied and collected by the Centre:
        • Central Excise duty
        • Duties of Excise (Medicinal and Toilet Preparations)
        • Additional Duties of Excise (Goods of Special Importance)
        • Additional Duties of Excise (Textiles and Textile Products)
        • Additional Duties of Customs (commonly known as CVD)
        • Special Additional Duty of Customs (SAD)
        • Service Tax
        • Central Surcharges and Cesses so far as they relate to supply of goods and services.
      • State taxes that would be subsumed under the GST are:-
        • State VAT
        • Central Sales Tax
        • Luxury Tax
        • Entry Tax (all forms)
        • Entertainment and Amusement Tax (except when levied by the local bodies)
        • Taxes on advertisements
        • Purchase Tax
        • Taxes on lotteries, betting and gambling
        • State Surcharges and Cesses so far as they relate to supply of goods and services
  • The GST Council shall make recommendations to the Union and States on the taxes, cesses and surcharges levied by the Centre, the States and the local bodies which may be subsumed in the GST.
NEWS-3 Lumpy skin disease
  • With the lumpy skin disease spreading fast among bovines in western and northern Rajasthan, cattle-rearers in the State are suffering heavy losses. The infection has spread.
  • Lumpy skin disease is a contagious viral disease that affects cattle. It’s caused by the Neethling virus from the Poxviridae family of viruses. The virus is transmitted by insects that feed on blood, including mosquitoes, flies, and ticks.
  • Once infected, cows display enlarged lymph nodes and nodules on and under their skin. Infected cattle also display runny noses, fever, swelling of the legs, and can suffer permanent damage to their skin.
  • This affects their economic value and causes tremendous losses to the owners of these cattle.
  • How does lumpy skin disease spread?
    • Lumpy skin disease is spread by insects that feed on blood. This includes mosquitoes, ticks, and several types of fly including the tse-tse fly, the horsefly and other flies that transmit blood-feeding parasites.
    • Lumpy skin disease spreads faster and more efficiently in high heat and humidity. Animal Husbandry department officials have said that the present outbreak of lumpy skin disease originated in Africa and spread to India through Pakistan.
NEWS-4 African swine fever
  • It is a highly contagious and fatal animal disease that infects and leads to an acute form of hemorrhagic fever in domestic and wild pigs.
  • Other manifestations of the disease include high fever, depression, anorexia, loss of appetite, hemorrhages in the skin, vomiting and diarrhoea among others.
  • It was first detected in Africa in the 1920s.
  • Historically, outbreaks have been reported in Africa and parts of Europe, South America, and the Caribbean.
  • However, more recently (since 2007), the disease has been reported in multiple countries across Africa, Asia and Europe, in both domestic and wild pigs.
  • The mortality is close to 100% and since the fever has no cure, the only way to stop its spread is by culling the animals.
  • ASF is not a threat to human beings since it only spreads from animals to other animals.
NEWS-5 Lingaraj temple in Bhubneswar
  • Lingaraj Temple, built in 11th century AD, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered as the largest temple of the city Bhubaneswar (Odisha).
  • It is believed to have been built by the Somvanshi King Yayati I.
  • It is built in red stone and is a classic example of Kalinga style of architecture.
  • The temple is divided into four sections – Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum), Yajna Shala (the hall for prayers), Bhoga Mandap (the hall of offering) and Natya Shala (hall of dance).
  • The sprawling temple complex has one hundred and fifty subsidiary shrines.
  • Lingaraj is referred to as ‘Swayambhu’ – self-originated Shivling.
  • Another important aspect of the temple is that it signifies the syncretisation of Shaivism and Vaishnavism sects in Odisha.
  • The Kerala government has opposed the new set of pro posed amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.
  • The main objection is against the will empower the Centre to auction some minerals from the list of atomic minerals.
  • “Kerala is endowed with rich resource of Beach Sand Minerals and some of them are significant not only for their economic ambit but for the strategic nature also,” Mr. Rajeeve said in his letter to Mr. Joshi.
  • He added that Kerala strongly opposes the pro posed amendment as State governments are the owners of the mines and minerals located within the territory of the State concerned, and under Entry 23 of List II of the Constitution and the Constitutional right of the State under Article 246(3), State Assemblies can make laws on such minerals.
  • He warned that any loss or leakage of the Monazite (being the primary source of thorium) and Rare Earth (occurring in association with Beach Sand Minerals) due to mineral processing would be significant loss affecting national security.
  • Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday introduced the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to convert the National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI), a deemed-to-be university, in to the Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya, an autonomous Central university.
  • The Bill seeks to expand the scope of the university from beyond just the Rail ways to cover the entire transport sector and support growth and modernization in the field. The new university, once the Bill clears both Houses of Parliament, will be funded and administered by the Ministry of Railways.
  • “The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2022seeks to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009, interalia, to provide for the establishment of Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya as a body corporate under the said Act,” Mr. Pradhan said in the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ of the Bill.
  • “The proposed university will reverse brain drain and create critical cap ability and capacity by developing master’s and doctoral degrees in transportation, go a long way in making the nation self-reliant in the transportation sector through its programmes for skilling and digitizing India.

Editorial of the Day

Using a rupee route to get around a dominating dollar
  • In recent times, India has been taking an active interest in having the rupee used for trade and the settlement of payments with other countries, which include Russia, now facing sanctions. Even earlier, the annexation of Crimea in 2014 had resulted in the imposition of similar sanctions against Russia over a period of time. Settling payments with Russia by India, especially for mineral fuels and oil imports as well as for the S-400 Triumf air defence system has been continuing on a semi-informal basis through rupee payments by using the Vostro accounts maintained by Russian banks in India.
  • The advantages India is currently seeking in these arrangements include avoidance of transactions in the highly priced dollar which has an exchange value of 180, impacting the Indian economy with inflation, capital flight (aggravated by interest rate hikes by the Fed and possible hikes in the European Union as well) and the drop in foreign exchange reserves by $70 billion since September 2021. Buying oil with a depreciated ruble, and at discounts, is not only cost-saving but also saves transport time with the use of multi-modal routes using land, sea and air routes. In addition, India is looking forward to trade expansion in sanctions-affected Russia (leading to recession and de-industrialisation there).
  • India’s opportunities include the possible use, by Russia, of the surpluses in the Vostro rupee account in Russian banks for additional purchases from India. Such purchases could include not only pharmaceutical products and electrical machinery (which are currently the major items of India’s exports to Russia) but also a range of products that Russia might need, particularly to redress the hardship faced with the sanctions.
  • Apart from issues that concern an agreed exchange rate between the rupee and the ruble (R-R), two volatile currencies, there is also the question of the willingness of private parties (companies, banks) to accept the rupee for trade and settlements. Will they be ready to forego the greenback?
  • Of course if Russia opens its door for exports from India, the ‘R-R’ route may prove attractive for Indian exporters. Finally, there are official concerns for reactions, particularly from the U.S., to deals, especially for purchase of the S-400 defence equipment. And the fear continues even after the recent Congressional approval of those purchases as a special case in the backdrop of Chinese aggression. Moreover, the deals between India and Russia, especially on oil, can be considered by the West as ‘indirect back door support’ – as India is importing Russian crude at 30% discount, processing at refineries in Gujarat which include Reliance, and then exporting those to the West.
  • Attempts to use the rupee for in voicing and trading is, however, not new to India. A comprehensive bilateral trade and payments agreement was signed by India in 1953 with the Soviet bloc countries (it included those that later formed a part of the Commonwealth of Independent States.)
    • The Commonwealth of Independent States (or CIS) is an intergovernmental organization made up of post-Soviet nations throughout Eurasia. The CIS promotes cooperation across the member states in economic, military, and political aspects. The organization also has some power over trade, finance, security, and lawmaking, and its members ostensibly cooperate in preventing cross-border crime. It is frequently (and understandably) confused with the Commonwealth of Nations, a similar group composed of former British colonies.
    • The CIS currently includes nine full member states and one observer state, Mongolia. The CIS originally included two additional “founding states” that signed the original agreement to join the CIS in 1991 or 1992, but declined to ratify the charter that followed. One of these founding states, Turkmenistan, is still part of the organization and has been classified as an “associate state” since 2005. The other, Ukraine, was classifed as an associate in 1994, but withdrew from the organization following fellow CIS member Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Donbass territory in 2014. Similarly, the only full member to leave the Commonwealth of Independent States, Georgia, did so in 2008 after fellow CIS member Russia invaded, sparking the Russo-Georgian war.
  • The Soviet Union’s credit to India enabled the setting up of the Bhilai steel plant, other industrial units, oil refineries and pharmaceuticals – all con trolled by India’s public sector. The agreement ended in 1991 fol lowing the dissolution of the Soviet Union, leaving behind some issues of a rupee surplus and the ‘R-R’ rate of exchange.

Explainer of the Day

Government’s own ‘gig workers’
  • Outsourcing has become the dominant mode of working in the government, from highly specialised tasks to the most routine ones. It may be a safai karamchari (sanitation work er), a driver/conductor of your city bus service, a junior engineer or a highly paid consultant – all engagements are usually outsourced to an agency.
  • There are two main methods to in duct an ’employee’ on contract in a government entity; first, directly on the payroll of the entity and, second, through a labour contractor or as part of any other contract entered in to pursuant to a tender process. In both cases, the costs and liabilities of the government entity are significantly reduced compared to a “permanent” position.
  • Non-payment of salaries for ex tended periods, fudging of statutory deductions for the worker’s welfare such as provident fund (PF), employees’ state insurance (ESI), etc. by the labour contractor, and uneven distribution of work vis-à-vis “permanent” employees, are all common and well-known features of such contracts.
  • Arguably, for the managers or officers in the government, the shifting of responsibility to the contractor and the possibility of litigation seeking ‘regularisation’ for the workers predisposes them to such labour contracts. The overwhelming reliance on contractors, who almost function as the HR managers of the government, has undermined our institutions.
  • Our local bodies , parastatals, special purpose vehicles and other public utilities stand to gain considerably if the modalities of engagement are diligently worked out.
  • As an example, following the re cent strike by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) staff in Maharashtra, Aurangabad’s City Bus Service, operated as a joint venture with the form er, had to be suspended due to non availability of drivers and conductors. Instead of outsourcing the service to a private agency, a decision was made to directly recruit the drivers and conductors from amongst ex-servicemen via fixed term contracts to be renewed periodically.
  • In addition, a maintenance division was set up for daily maintenance from amongst the ex-service men retired from mechanical and engineering divisions of the Army. As a result, a significant improvement was seen in various service level parameters in a short span. The Minis try of Housing & Urban Affairs’ The Urban Learning Internship Program (TULIP), which enables city authorities to directly engage a young work force for a fixed term, is another ex ample of a step in the right direction.
  • Fixed term contractual stints with the government with safeguards against sheer exploitation can be a major source of employment. However, such modes of recruitment will have to assimilate the principles of affirmative action, in line with the vision of social justice enshrined in our Constitution.
AlphaFold: A tour de force in science
  • DeepMind, a company based in London and owned by Google, announced this week that it had predicted the three-dimensional structures of more than 200 million proteins using AlphaFold. This is the entire protein universe known to scientists today.
  • What is AlphaFold?
    • AlphaFold is an Al-based protein structure prediction tool. It is based on a computer system called deep neural network. Inspired by the human brain, neural networks use a large amount of input data and provides the desired output exactly like how a human brain would. The real work is done by the black box between the input and the output layers, called the hidden networks. AlphaFold is fed with protein sequences as input. When protein sequences enter through one end, the predicted three-dimensional structures come out through the other. It is like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
  • How does AlphaFold work?
    • It uses processes based on “training, learning, retraining and relearning.” The first step uses the available structures of 1,70,000 proteins in the Protein Data Bank (PDB) to train the computer model. Then, it uses the results of that training to learn the structural predictions of proteins not in the PDB. Once that is done, it uses the high-accuracy predictions from the first step to retrain and relearn to gain higher accuracy of the earlier predictions.
  • What are the implications of this development?
    • Proteins are the business ends of biology, meaning proteins carry out all the functions inside a living cell. Therefore, knowing protein structure and function is essential to understanding human diseases. Scientists predict protein structures using x-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or cryogenic electron microscopy. These techniques are not just time consuming, they often take years and are based mainly on trial and error methods.

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