09 November 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Prelims Specific Question

1) Consider the following statements regarding Supreme Court’s ruling in ‘Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu And Others’ (1992) case.

  1. The court upheld the discretion available to the Speaker in deciding cases of disqualification of MLAs.
  2. Judicial review can be availed at any stage of making a decision by the Speaker/Chairman regarding disqualification of MLAs.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

2) Consider the following statements regarding Contempt of Courts.

  1. Contempt of court is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful towards a court of law and its officers.
  2. Criminal contempt means publication of any matter that scandalises or lowers the authority of any court.
  3. The Constitution of India does not mention anything about Contempt of Courts, whereas all the provisions are included in the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1, 2
  3. 1, 3
  4. 1, 2, 3

Articles 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.

Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 defines the power of the High Court to punish contempts of its subordinate courts.

3) Consider the following statements.

  1. Article 356 of the Constitution of India deals with the failure of constitutional machinery in a State.
  2. According to the Constitution of India, the High Court can enquire and recommend President’s rule in a State.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Important News Items of the Day

UNESCO picks Srinagar as creative city

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has picked Srinagar among 49 cities as part of the creative city network under the Crafts and Folk Arts category.

The process of nomination of Srinagar under the UNESCO ‘Creative City Network’ was undertaken and funded under the World Bank-funded Jhelum Tawi Flood Recovery Project.

The network involves folk art, media, film, literature, design, gastronomy and media arts.

Only Jaipur (Crafts and Folk Arts) in 2015, Varanasi and Chennai (Creative city of Music) in 2015 and 2017 respectively have so far been recognised as members of the UCCN for creative cities.

Jhelum Tawi Flood Recovery Project :

In the aftermath of the devastating floods of Jammu and Kashmir in 2014, the Government of India requested assistance from the World Bank and an emergency project figured by the Natural Disaster was started, the Project is named as Jehlum Tawi Flood Recovery Project.

The project will focus on restoring critical infrastructure using international best practice on resilient infrastructure. Given the region’s vulnerability to both floods and earthquakes, the infrastructure will be designed with upgraded resilient features, and will include contingency planning for future disaster events.

Padma Awardees 2021 in sports

The President of India Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Padma Vibhushan on M.C. Mary Kom (boxing), Padma Bhushan on P.V. Sindhu (badminton), and the Padma Shri on Oinam Bembem Devi (football), Tarundeep Rai (archery), M.P. Ganesh and Rani Rampal (hockey), and Jitu Rai (shooting) at a civil investiture ceremony in New Delhi.

Society

Odisha’s Bonda Tribe

  • PVTGs: Bondas are one of the 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) found in Odisha. There are a total of 75 PVTGs in India.
  • Austroasiatic Tribes: Bondas are members of a group of Austroasiatic tribes, they are believed to be part of the first wave of migration out of Africa about 60,000 years ago. They are the first forest settlers in India.
  • Culture: The Bondas have retained their identity and culture despite external interventions over the years.
    Primarily forest dwellers, the Bondas used to hunt and forage for food in the wild.
  • Matriarchal society-The women prefer to marry men who are younger by at least 5-10 years, so that the men can earn for them when they grow old.
  • Unique dressing style- Women are semi clad and wears various types of rings and necklaces around their bodies, while the men carry lethal bows and arrows.
  • Language- They continue to speak in their language, Remo, which comes under the Austroasiatic language belonging to the Mundari group.The Mundari group of languages are spoken by Munda people.

Defence

IFC- IOR

The Navy chiefs and heads of maritime agencies of Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, the Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand are taking part in the conclave. The theme for this year’s edition is “Maritime security and emerging non-traditional threats: a case for proactive role for IOR Navies”.

About IFC- IOR (Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region):

  • The IFC-IOR was established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region and beyond, by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region.
  • The IFC has been established at the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram, which is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
  • Through this Centre, information on “white shipping”, or commercial shipping, will be exchanged with countries in the region to improve maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean.

Significance and the need:

  • The IOR has a diverse set of littorals and island nations, each with their unique needs, aspirations, interest and values. It is necessary to counter the Rise in maritime piracy in the region.
  • IFR-IRO would ensure that the entire region is benefited by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.

Economy

1) Reliance exits shale gas in N. America

What is shale gas –

Shale gas refers to natural gas that is trapped within shale formations. Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that can be rich sources of petroleum and natural gas.

How is shale gas extracted through hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’)?

Hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as fracking – is the process used to extract shale gas. Deep holes are drilled down into the shale rock, followed by horizontal drilling to access more of the gas reserves, as shale reserves are typically distributed horizontally rather than vertically.

2) ‘India now ahead of China in financial inclusion metrics’

India is now ahead of China in financial inclusion metrics, with mobile and Internet banking transactions rising to 13,615 per 1,000 adults in 2020 from 183 in 2015 and the number of bank branches inching up to 14.7 per 1 lakh adults in 2020 from 13.6 in 2015, which is higher than in Germany, China and South Africa, as per a report.

Under the no-frills accounts scheme, the number of persons with deposit accounts at banks has significantly increased, becoming comparable with emerging economy peers and even some of the advanced economies.

3) ‘Pharma study to help CCI take steps to raise drug affordability’

Fair trade regulator CCI will identify measures to enhance competition in the country’s pharmaceutical sector for ensuring affordability of drugs after analyzing findings of its market study.

About Competition Commission of India –

  • Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002, it was duly constituted in March 2009.
  • The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) was repealed and replaced by the Competition Act, 2002, on the recommendations of Raghavan committee.

Competition Commission of India aims to establish a robust competitive environment.

  • Through proactive engagement with all stakeholders, including consumers, industry, government and international jurisdictions.
  • By being a knowledge intensive organization with high competence level.
  • Through professionalism, transparency, resolve and wisdom in enforcement.

Competition Act, 2002

  • The Competition Act was passed in 2002 and has been amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007. It follows the philosophy of modern competition laws.
  • The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
  • In accordance with the provisions of the Amendment Act, the Competition Commission of India and the Competition Appellate Tribunal have been established.
  • Government replaced Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in 2017.

Composition of CCI

  • The Commission consists of one Chairperson and six Members as per the Competition Act who shall be appointed by the Central Government.
  • The commission is a quasi-judicial body which gives opinions to statutory authorities and also deals with other cases. The Chairperson and other Members shall be whole-time Members.

Editorials of the Day

Editorial 1 – The long road to net zero

Net zero, which means balancing out manmade national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by removing an equal amount from the atmosphere, can be achieved only through a structured programme that relies on sharp emissions reduction, wide support for clean energy innovation and adoption of green technologies.

India has announced year 2070 to achieve net zero target.

India has joined a high-profile group of countries. Others with net zero goals include major emitters such as the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union with a 2050 target, and China aiming for 2060.

According to the World Bank, in 2018, India had per capita emissions of 1.8 tonnes, which is markedly lower than 15.2 for the U.S., 5.4 for the U.K. and even the middle-income countries’ average of 3.7 tonnes.

Mr. Modi’s net zero plan, which he described as “panchamrit”, or the five nectar elements, includes –

  1. First– India will increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500GW (India had earlier extended its target to 450GW out of which 100GW is already installed) by 2030.
  2. Second– India will meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
    1. Please note that renewable energy sources are different from non-fossil sources. Non-fossil sources also includes, scalable nuclear power and hydroelectricity.
  3. Third– India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030.
  4. Fourth– By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45%.
    1. India has achieved 25% of emission intensity reduction of GDP b/w 2005 -2016, and is on the path to achieve more than 40% by 2030.
  5. Fifth By the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net Zero

What is the outlook for India’s emissions?

Analysis of India’s growth path points to rising GDP per capita, with a rise in carbon emissions in the short term, primarily from energy.

 A greater share for services in GDP is positive for emissions cuts, but there is no indication of when India’s emissions, heavily influenced by coal and other fossil fuel use, will peak. In terms of sectoral GHG emissions, data from 2016 show that electricity and heat account for the highest share (1.11 billion tonnes), followed by agriculture (704.16 million tonnes), manufacturing and construction (533.8 million tonnes), transport (265.3 million tonnes), industry (130.61 million tonnes), land use change and forestry (126.43 million tonnes), other fuel use (119.04 million tonnes), buildings (109.2 million tonnes), waste (80.98 million tonnes), fugitive emissions (54.95 million tonnes), and aviation and shipping (20.4 million tonnes).

What are the immediate interventions that can be made?

  • India needs to create a legal mandate for climate impact assessment of all activities. This can facilitate investment by dedicated green funds. Public sector institutions promoted by the government, cooperatives and even market mechanisms will participate.
  • The 500 GW renewables target needs a major boost, such as channelling more national and international climate funding into decentralised solar power.
  • Rooftop solar, estimated at 7,701 megawatt (MW) installed capacity as of June 2021, could be scaled up by modernising unattractive State-level regulation.
  • Another emerging sector is green hydrogen production because of its potential as a clean fuel. India has a National Hydrogen Mission now in place. The fuel can cover major sectors such as power and steel production (shifting from coal) and automotive (fuel cell vehicles), while green ammonia, with potential uses in energy storage, shipping, and as a base for hydrogen production, are promising areas.

These plans need a political consensus and support from State governments. Net zero will involve industrial renewal using green innovation, green economy support and supply chains yielding new jobs. It also needs low carbon technologies, zero emission vehicles, and renewed cities promoting walking and cycling.

2) Why are U.S. COVID-19 vaccines still out of reach in India?

Context – More than six months after the Government announced it would fast-track clearances for foreign COVID-19 vaccines to India, the indemnity clause is still holding up the import of all American vaccines to India.

What is indemnity?

Indemnity is a form of contract. Indemnity granted to any company in respect of a particular drug or vaccine can only be in the form of an indemnity bond executed on behalf of the Government of India.

Section 124 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, defines a contract of indemnity as one by which one party promises to save the other from any loss caused to the latter. This would mean that if a particular vaccine is perceived to have caused death or any lasting damage to a recipient, any claim of compensation arising from it will have to be met by the Government, and not by the company. In the event of a court ordering payment, the company could recover the amount from the government.

What does India gain by giving indemnity?

In the absence of indemnity, overseas manufacturers may load the risk onto the price of the vaccines, making each dose more expensive. By indemnifying the companies in respect of these vaccines, the Government of India may be able to negotiate lower prices and higher volumes. It may help accelerate its national vaccination drive. On the flip side, the government may be forced to make it a level playing field for local makers too, by extending the indemnity to them, and thereby inviting upon itself the entire risk associated with more than a billion vaccine shots.

3) A vital cog in Bongaigaon’s response to malnutrition

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’. This statement is often attributed to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, and quite literally sums up Project Sampoorna which was conceptualised and successfully implemented in Bongaigaon district of Assam.

Project Sampoorna had prevented at least 1,200 children from becoming malnourished over the last year.

An interlink

The project has resulted in the reduction of malnutrition in children using near zero economic investment. Sampoorna is in tandem with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and those set by the UN Secretary General António Guterres in the Food Systems Summit (September 2021) including the need to have food systems and social protection that support resilience and food security. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also had identified health and nutrition as priority areas and reiterated the need for a ‘Kuposhan mukt Bharat’ (Malnutrition Free India) while launching the Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment (POSHAN Abhiyaan) (National Nutrition Mission) in 2017-18.

Challenges –

Malnutrition, patriarchy – The major hindrance to the project was patriarchy. Mothers had to be empowered financially for sustained results. Therefore, they were enrolled in Self Help Groups (SHGs) under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). By the end of three months, 74.3% of mothers were enrolled in SHGs; by the end of six months, enrollment went up to 75.6% and by the end of a year, it was 90%.

4) Breaking down the hype around Metaverse

What is Metaverse –

‘Metaverse’ is a broad term encompassing interconnected 3D virtual worlds made possible through advancements in technologies such as augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchains, originating from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 speculative science fiction novel, Snow Crash.

The metaverse space

Web 3.0 is the name given to the next generation of Internet architecture that will supposedly be free from the centralisation that is a part of today’s Web 2.0 Internet systems, which are largely controlled by tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. Web 3.0 proponents advocate the use of technologies such as blockchains and tokens to create a decentralized Internet for online interaction and online payments, and a hypothetical metaverse run on these platforms could be a good example of what an ideal future digital environment could look like; hence the push for an ‘Open Metaverse’ by some organisations.

In an ideal world, the metaverse would be a truly open and inclusive space for empowerment, expression and exploration. However, these are not likely to be the corporation’s goals in the world we live in. If the corporation’s previous products are anything to go by, the aim is likely to get to the next level of commodification of human interaction, where every single action, down to the tiniest levels, is tracked and surveilled for profits, and designed in a way to maximise data collection and keep the user coming back for more.

The metaverse in the hands of one corporation would surely be detrimental to the entire Web 3.0 decentralisation movement. Competitors are likely to pop up with their own versions of the technology, leading to a number of ‘Closed’ metaverses, which would basically be the Web 2.0 system all over again.

What things you can do with Meta verse :-

It’s a concept that involves an online world where people can interact with others, collaborate and communicate virtually, without needing to be in the same space. For example, you can be in New Delhi and your family may be in Kolkata, but you could enjoy a dinner together sitting around the same table. It’s like Zoom or Google Meet on steroids. Instead of staring at a screen, you’d be actually seeing your family members across the table.

The potential of virtual reality is immense, especially from a business point of view. How about being able to do a full try-out of the dress you’ve found online before placing an order. Or, actually hopping into the car you want to take for a test ride sitting in your drawing room?

What are Fungible and Non-Fungible assets?

A fungible asset is something that can be readily interchanged like money. With money, you can swap a £10 note for two £5 notes, and it will have the same value.

On the other hand, a non-fungible asset means it has unique properties which cannot be interchanged with something else. Example: It could be a painting that is one of a kind. You can take a photo of the painting or buy a print, but there will only ever be one original painting.

What are Non-Fungible Tokens(NFTs)?

Non-Fungible Tokens(NFTs) are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain and cannot be replicated.

They are one-of-a-kind assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold like any other piece of property, but they have no tangible form of their own.

The digital tokens can be thought of as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets.

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