19 June 2021 – Daily current Affairs

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GeM- SAHAY Project, sometimes seen in the news recently, is a project on the GeM platform, tailored to meet the specific needs of?

a.   Self Help Groups

b.   UNICORN Startups

c.   Minor Forest Producer Organizations

d. MSME

2)Children and Digital Dumpsites Report was published recently by?

a.   World Health Organization (WHO)

b.   International Solid Waste Association (ISWA)

c.   International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

d.   UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

d.   Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

2)Children and Digital Dumpsites Report was published recently by?

a.   World Health Organization (WHO)

b.   International Solid Waste Association (ISWA)

c.   International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

d.   UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

3)Consider the following statements with respective to Inland Vessels Bill, 2021

It will approve separate rules framed by the States for registration of inland vessels.

It will provide for a central database for recording the details of vessel, vessel registration, crew on an electronic portal.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are incorrect?

a.   1 only

b.   2 only

c.   Both 1 and 2

d.   Neither 1 nor 2

Prelims Specific News Items :-

World Competitiveness Yearbook :-

Why in News

According to the World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY), India maintained 43rd rank on the annual World Competitiveness Index.

The World Competitiveness Index is a comprehensive annual report and worldwide reference point on the competitiveness of countries.

About: Published by: WCY was first published in 1989 and is compiled by the Institute for Management Development (IMD).

In 2021, the IMD examined the impact of Covid-19 on economies around the world.

It provides extensive coverage of 64 economies.

Factors: It measures the prosperity and competitiveness of countries by examining four factors (334 competitiveness criteria):

  • Economic performance
  • Government efficiency
  • Business efficiency
  • Infrastructure

Top Global Performers:

Europe:

The European countries display regional strength in world competitiveness ranking with Switzerland (1st), Sweden (2nd), Denmark (3rd), the Netherlands (4th).

Asia:

The top-performing Asian economies are, in order, Singapore (5th), Hong Kong (7th), Taiwan (8th) and China (16th).

Singapore was 1st in the 2020 World Competitiveness Index.

Others:

The UAE and the USA remain in their same spots as last year (9th and 10th, respectively).

India’s Performance:

In Comparison to BRICS Nations: Among the BRICS nations, India ranked second (43rd) after China (16th), followed by Russia (45th), Brazil (57th) and South Africa (62nd).

2) Inland Vessels Bill, 2021

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021, which will replace the Inland Vessels Act, 1917 after passing in Parliament.

The Bill will regulate safety, security and registration of inland vessels.

Features of the Bill:

A key feature of the Bill is a unified law for the entire country, instead of separate rules framed by the States.

The certificate of registration granted under the proposed law will be deemed to be valid in all States and Union Territories, and there will be no need to seek separate permissions from the States.

The Bill provides for a central database for recording the details of vessel, vessel registration, crew on an electronic portal.

All non-mechanically propelled vessels will also have to be enrolled at the district, taluk or panchayat or village level.

It enlarges the definition of ‘inland waters’, by including tidal water limit and national waterways declared by the Central Government.

It also deals with pollution control measures of Inland Vessels. This Bill directs the Central Government to designate a list of chemicals, substances, etc. as pollutants.

Inland Waterways:

About:

India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise of rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks, etc.

As per the National Waterways Act 2016, 111 waterways have been declared as National Waterways (NWs).

3) Sale of illegal HTBt cotton seeds doubles :- The illegal cultivation of herbicide tolerant (HT) Bt cotton has seen a huge jump this year. “It will not only decimate small cotton seed companies but also threatens the entire legal cotton seed market in India.”

About :– Bt cotton is the only transgenic crop that has been approved by the Centre for commercial cultivation in India. It has been genetically modified to produce an insecticide to combat the cotton bollworm, a common pest.

The HTBt cotton variant adds another layer of modification, making the plant resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, but has not been approved by regulators. Fears include glyphosate having a carcinogenic effect, as well as the unchecked spread of herbicide resistance to nearby plants through pollination, creating a variety of super-weeds.

4)First Indian Navy, EU naval force exercise on in Gulf of Aden :- The maiden Indian Navy and European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) exercise began in the Gulf of Aden on Friday. A total of five warships from four navies were participating in the two-day exercise.

INS Trikand, mission deployed for anti-piracy operations, is participating in the exercise. Other warships include Italy’s ITS Carabinere, the Spanish Navy’s ESPS Navarra, and FS Tonnerre and FS Surcouf of France.

5) What led to the Biden-Putin summit?

Author says that the rise of china and USA’s intent of controlling China has led to the USA Russia summit which was not a possibility when china was not such a threat to USA’s Supremacy.

The 30 member NATO, whose traditional focus has been on Russia, has also issued a statement in which China has been mentioned multiple times. NATO members warned against the “systemic challenges to the rules based international order” emanating from China’s rise. The U.S. and the 27member EU have decided to cooperate more on technology, regulation, industrial development and trade in an attempt to help the West compete better with China.

It’s too early to see any meaningful change in Russia-U.S. relations. But the Geneva summit suggests that policymakers in Washington have at least started thinking of Russia as a secondary challenge that needs to be tackled diplomatically, not only through coercion, if the U.S. wants to take on a rising China.

Putin said he and Biden agreed to begin negotiations on nuclear talks to potentially replace the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons after it expires in 2026.

Washington broke off talks with Moscow in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and its military intervention in support of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Talks resumed in 2017 but gained little traction and failed to produce an agreement on extending the New START treaty during the Trump administration.

Editorial of the Day

Editorial 01 : In India, looking beyond the binary to a spectrum

Author is in favour of granting marrying rights to the Same sex persons.

Author says that Nevertheless, given the march of law — both international and domestic — in the direction of expanding human rights, jurisprudence necessarily means that the provision of marriage rights to
same sex and queer couples is only a matter of time. Any further delay in doing so would fall foul of our constitutional guarantees, judgments rendered by various High Courts and evolving international jurisprudence.

International Examples :– In 2005, the Constitutional Court of South Africa in the case of Minister of Home Affairs and Another vs Fourie and Another; Lesbian and Gay Equality Project and Eighteen Others vs Minister of Home Affairs and Others [2005] ZACC 19, unanimously held that the common law definition of marriage i.e. “a union of one man with one woman” was inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.

Consequently, the Parliament of South Africa was given 12 months to amend the Marriage Act 25 of 1961, failing which the Marriage Act would stand amended, by virtue of the decision of the Constitutional Court, to include the words “or spouse” after the words “or husband”. As a result of the verdict, the Civil Union Act, 2006 was enacted, enabling the voluntary union of two persons above 18 years of age, by way of marriage.

Australian Example :- In 2007 in Australia, the reforms to civil rights of queer community were prompted by the Honourable Michael Kirby (then judge of the High Court of Australia) writing to the Attorney General of Australia asking for the judicial pension scheme to be extended to his gay partner of 38 years (at that time). After initial opposition from the Federal Government, the SameSex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Act 2008 came to be enacted to provide provide equal entitlements for same-sex couples

More recently, in 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same sex couples.

Indian Case to look :- The judgment of the Madras High Court builds on the tenets laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Shafin Jahan vs Asokan K.M. and Others AIR 2018 SC 1933 (Hadiya case), wherein the right to choose and marry a partner was considered to be a constitutionally guaranteed freedom. By doing so, the Supreme Court held that the “intimacies of marriage lie within a core zone of privacy, which is inviolable” and that “society has no role to play in determining our choice of partners”.

The only logical interpretation from reading these cases together, it is apparent that any legal or statutory
bar to same-sex and queer marriages must necessarily be held to be unconstitutional and specifically violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.

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