19th October, 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Prelims Specific Questions :-

1) Global TB report is released by which of the following organisation?

  1. World Health Assembly
  2. World Health Organization (WHO)
  3. Health For All
  4. Doctors Without Borders/Mu00e9decins Sans Frontiu00e8res (MSF)

2) Consider the following pairs

Mission – Asteroid

  • 1. Mission Lucy – Jupiter Trojan asteroids
  • 2. Hayabusa mission – Bennu
  • 3. OSIRIS-REX – Ryugu

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

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

3) With reference to Global Hunger Index, consider the following statements:

  1. India’s score on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in the recent two decades has declined by 10 points.
  2. Globally, India ranked among the worst in ‘child wasting’ or ‘weight for height’.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Prelims Specific News Items :-

1) Exercise Cambrian Patrol –

A team from Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) which represented the Indian Army at the prestigious Cambrian Patrol Exercise at Brecon, Wales, UK has been awarded a Gold medal.

What is Exercise Cambrian Patrol?

Exercise Cambrian Patrol is organised by the UK Army. It is considered as the ultimate test of human endurance, team spirit and is sometimes referred to as the Olympics of Military Patrolling among militaries in the world.

2) Bhutan-China Border Issues –

 In a step towards resolving their boundary disputes, Bhutan and China signed an agreement on a three-Step roadmap to help speed up talks to “break the deadlock” in negotiations.

Bhutan-China Border Issues

  • Bhutan shares an over 400-km-long border with China.
  • Doklam: China wants to exchange the valleys to the north of Bhutan with the pasture land to the west (including Doklam), totalling 269 square kilometres.
  • Jakarlung and Pasamlung valleys: located near Tibet to Bhutan’s North, which measure 495 sq. kms.
  • Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary Project: China claims this area (near to Arunachal Pradesh) in eastern Bhutan as its own.

What is the recent agreement?

The roadmap “for Expediting the Bhutan-China Boundary Negotiations”, is expected to progress on the boundary talks process that has been delayed for five years. It was stalled due to the Doklam standoff in 2017, and then by the Covid Pandemic. Although China and Bhutan do not have official diplomatic relations they have engaged in 24 rounds of ministerial-level talks to resolve their border dispute.

Implications for India

The boundary issue between China and Bhutan is special because it not only relates to Bhutan but also has become a negative factor for China-India ties.

  • China control much of the Doklam: Since the 2017 stand-off with India, Beijing has already strengthened its de facto control over much of the Doklam plateau, located strategically along the India-China-Bhutan trijunction.
  • Bhutan supports it: This agreement has been equally endorsed and appreciated by Bhutan and China.
  • Deadlock at LAC talks: Its timing is particularly significant New, given India-China border talks on their 17-month-old standoff at the Line of Actual Control appear to have hit an deadlock.
  • India’s strategic risks: This has big implications for India, since the Doklam swap would have given China access to the strategically sensitive “chicken neck” of the Siliguri corridor.

India’s interest

(a) Doklam

  • The Doklam plateau remains hugely critical for India due to the Siliguri Corridor that lies to the south of Doklam.
  • The corridor, also known as the ‘Chicken’s Neck’, is a 22-km wide major arterial road connecting mainland India with its northeastern states and thus it is a highly sensitive area for China.

(b) Sakteng: the hotspot

  • The Sakteng sanctuary adjoins West Kameng district and Tawang disticts in India’s Arunachal Pradesh state.
  • Its strategic value lies in its proximity to Arunachal Pradesh, where China claims around 90,000 sq km of Indian territory.
  • Tawang, the major bone of contention between India and China in the eastern sector of their border dispute, lies to the northeast of the Sakteng.

Important news :-

1) Recent attacks in J&K reveal terror outfits’ new strategy: NIA

About NIA –

  • It is the central agency established by the Government of India to combat terror in India.
  • Agency came into existence with the enactment of the NIA Act 2008.
  • NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
  • Y C Modi is the current chairman of NIA.
  • NIA works under Ministry of Home Affairs.

Key changes in the NIA (Amendment) Bill, 2019:-

  • Scheduled Offences: The schedule to the Act specifies a list of offences which are to be investigated and prosecuted by the agency. 
  • These include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

The Bill will allow the NIA to investigate additional offences:

  1. Human trafficking,
  2. Offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes,
  3. Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms,
  4. Cyber-terrorism, and
  5. Offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.      

Jurisdiction of the NIA:

  • The amendment provides for the creation of the NIA to investigate and prosecute offences specified in the schedule.
  • The officers of the NIA have the same powers as other police officers in relation to the investigation of such offences, across India.
  • The Bill states that in addition, officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
  • The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such cases, as if the offence has been committed in India.  The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases.
  • Special Courts: The Bill allows the central government to constitute Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
  • The Act amends this to state that the central government may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
  • The central government is required to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning, before designating it as a Special Court.
  • When more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, the senior-most judge will distribute cases among the courts.  Further, state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.   

2) Kerala Rivers in news –

Water level in the Pampa, Manimala, and Achencoil rivers remained well over the danger level.

3) Army trains officers posted along LAC in Tibetology

Tibetology refers to the study of things related to Tibet, including its history, religion, language, culture, politics and the collection of Tibetan articles of historical, cultural and religious significance.

4) ‘Mumbai lost 40% green cover between 1991 and 2018’

Mumbai lost 81% of its open land (barren spaces without any vegetation), 40% green cover (forests & scrublands) and approximately 30% of its water bodies (lakes, ponds, floodplains) between 1991 and 2018, while the built-up area (areas developed upon) rose by 66% in the same period, says a recent study. It concludes that the city witnessed a 2 degree Celsius average temperature rise across 27 years.

5) Lacking in Nutrition –

6) Longpending trade talks between India, Israel to resume –

India and Israel agreed to resume long-pending negotiations on a free trade agreement.

Abraham Accords brokered by the U.S. that saw the UAE and Israel establish diplomatic relations, also underlines India’s close relationships with both the West Asian countries and Washington.

The Israel–UAE normalization agreement is officially called the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement.

It was initially agreed to in a joint statement by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 13, 2020.

The UAE thus became the third Arab country, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to agree to formally normalize its relationship with Israel as well as the first Persian Gulf country to do so.

Concurrently, Israel agreed to suspend plans for annexing parts of the West Bank. The agreement normalized what had long been informal but robust foreign relations between the two countries.

7) Kushinagar connect to Sri Lanka –

The airport is expected to provide seamless connectivity to tourists from Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, etc. Kushinagar is the centre of the Buddhist circuit, which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya. Buddhist pilgrims consider Kushinagar a sacred site where, they believe, Gautama Buddha delivered his last sermon and attained ‘Mahaparinirvana’ or salvation.

To mark the occasion, Sri Lanka will present to India photographs of two murals painted by renowned Sri Lankan artist Solias Mendis at the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara, a popular Buddhist temple near Colombo, officials at the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi told The Hindu.

One of the murals depicts ‘Arahat Bhikkhu’ Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka delivering the message of the Buddha to King Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka. The other shows the arrival of ‘Theri Bhikkhuni’ Sanghamitta, the daughter of the Emperor, in Sri Lanka, bearing a sapling of the ‘sacred Bodhi tree’ under which Siddhārtha Gautama is believed to have obtained enlightenment.

8) Panel to study Indian culture

A committee formed in 2016 to “study evolution of Indian culture from 12,000 years ago” did not submit any report to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the government body said in a Right to Information (RTI) reply recently.

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

  • ASI, under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
  • It administers more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • Its activities include carrying out surveys of antiquarian remains, exploration and excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and maintenance of protected monuments etc.
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham- the first Director-General of ASI. Alexander Cunningham is also known as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”.

Editorial of the day

Editorial 1- The nuclear proliferator who was never indicted

America’s shielding of A.Q. Khan paralleled its policy of not penalising the Pakistani military’s nexus with terror groups

One key question is unlikely to go away despite the passing of A.Q. Khan, the world’s biggest nuclear proliferator, who developed COVID-19 complications. Why did the United States never indict this Dutch-trained Pakistani metallurgist for stealing western nuclear secrets and operating an illicit international nuclear-smuggling network for more than a quarter of a century? After all, the U.S. has indicted lesser known individuals, including as recently as last year, for conspiring to smuggle nuclear goods to Pakistan.

Editorial 2- Greenfield hopes

The ebbing of the second wave of the pandemic, accompanied by the gradual lifting of restrictions across States, have not only spurred an improvement in several economic indicators but also led to a much-awaited investment revival.

Even though enhanced central government infrastructure spending is partly responsible, this uptick is surprising for another reason — the first half of 2021-22 has now seen fresh investments higher than the pre-COVID year of 2019-20, with private capital outlays up nearly 49% to ₹4.87lakh crore. Whether or not this growth rate is sustained, the implementation of the “PLI” scheme to promote manufacturing investments in India is expected to spur more investments in textiles, pharma, electronics over the second half of this year and 2022-23.

The handing over of Air India to the Tata group — the first outright sale of a public sector firm in almost two decades — will ring in some much-needed confidence in the Government’s much-reiterated stance that it has no business to be in business.

Editorial 3 – A shadow foreign policy for the first time

India does not have a tradition of shadow cabinets lurking behind the government in power with ready alternative approaches to policy matters. The opposition challenges government policies, but provides no alternatives to be adopted in the event of a change in government.

The Shadow Cabinet –

The shadow cabinet is made up of senior members of the main opposition party in Westminster who act as spokespeople for the opposition in specific policy areas. Shadow ministers are appointed by the leader of the opposition and generally take roles that mirror the current government. Their job is to scrutinise those they ‘shadow’ in government, and develop policies for their party.

Editorial 4 – India needs a caste count

A new intervention strategy can then be fashioned to emancipate groups that are still at the bottom of the ladder

The Constituent Assembly sat together 114 times to draft a visionary Constitution for India, targeted at transforming an ancient civilisation into a modern nation state. The Preamble inter alia stated that there would be justice (social, economic and political) and equality of status and opportunity.

Important Articles related to Prelims –

In order to fulfil the egalitarian construct of the Constitution, the makers of modern India incorporated into the chapter on Fundamental Rights three path-breaking postulates: Article 17 (abolishing untouchability), Article 23 (prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour) and Article 24 (prohibition of child labour). The Constitution outlaws discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth and mandates equality of opportunity in matters of public employment albeit with caveats to promote the interests of the underprivileged.

Article 335 provides for reservations for SCs and STs in public employment both under the Union and the States. 

In 1990, another step was taken in this direction when the then Prime Minister V.P. Singh decided to act on the recommendations of the Mandal Commission report and provide 27% reservation in public employment to Other Backward Classes (OBCs). 

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