22 June 2021 : Daily Current Affairs

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Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee is chaired by which of the following authorities?

a.   Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB)

b.   Secretary of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

c.   Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF&CC

d.   Principal Scientific Adviser of India

2)Consider the following statements with respective to Herbicide Tolerant Bt (HTBt) Cotton

It has been genetically modified (GM) making the plant resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.

It is the only transgenic crop that has been approved by the Centre for commercial cultivation in India.

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

a.   1 only

b.   2 only

c.   Both 1 and 2

d.   Neither 1 nor 2

3)Freshwater gharials are listed under which of the following category under IUCN Red List?

a.   Critically Endangered

b.   Vulnerable

c.   Near Threatened

d.   Endangered

Map of the Day :-

Prelims Specific Fact

Section 27A of the NDPS Act :- Last week, the Tripura High Court, in a significant verdict, discovered an oversight in drafting the 2014 amendments to the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

What is Section 27A?

The NDPS had unintentionally rendered a key provision of the Act, Section 27A which provides for punishment of those financing illicit trafficking, inoperable.

This section has been consistently evoked since a year after the alleged suicide of a notable Bollywood actor after drugs intoxication.

What is the provision?

The NDPS Act, 1985 is the principal legislation through which the state regulates the operations of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

It provides a stringent framework for punishing offenses related to illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances through imprisonments and forfeiture of property.

Section 27A of the NDPS Act, 1985, prescribes the punishment for financing illicit traffic and harboring offenders.

The court may, for reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a fine exceeding two lakh rupees.”

So why is this provision inoperable?

The text of the provision says that offences mentioned under Section 2(viiia) sub-clauses i-v are punishable through Section 27A.

However, Section 2 (viiia) sub-clauses i-v, which is supposed to be the catalog of offences, does not exist after the 2014 amendment.

So, if Section 27A penalises a blank list or a non-existent provision, it can be argued that it is virtually inoperable.

2) Article 20 of the Indian Constitution

The Article 20 is one of the pillars of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. It mainly deals with protection of certain rights in case of conviction for offences.

(1) No person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the Act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.

(2) No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.

(3) No person accused of any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

3)What is Summer Solstice?

Solstice means “sun stands still” in Latin.

The longest day of 2021 for those living north of the Equator is June 21.

This day is characterized by a greater amount of energy received from the sun.

In technical terms, this day is referred to as the summer solstice, the longest day of the summer season. It occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, or more specifically right over 23.5-degree north latitude.

Q.On 21st June, the Sun (CSP 2019):

(a) Does not set below the horizon at the Arctic Circle

(b) Does not set below the horizon at Antarctic Circle

(c) Shines vertically overhead at noon on the Equator

(d) Shines vertically overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn

4) What is gain-of-function research?

In virology, gain-of-function research involves deliberately altering an organism in the lab, altering a gene, or introducing a mutation in a pathogen to study its transmissibility, virulence and immunogenicity.

It is believed that this allows researchers to study potential therapies, vaccine possibilities and ways to control the disease better in future.

Gain-of-function research involves manipulations that make certain pathogenic microbes more deadly or more transmissible.

5) What is Ex-Gratia :

An ex gratia payment is made to an individual by an organization, government, or insurer for damages or claims, but it does not require the admittance of liability by the party making the payment.

An ex gratia payment is considered voluntary because the party making the payment is not obligated to compensate the individual. In Latin, “ex gratia” means “by favor.”


Editorials of the Day : The state of India’s poor must be acknowledged

Author says that the Poor must be quantified first in a right manner in this country if we want to raise their standard.

Author says that as per the Tendulkar Committee on Poverty line a ‘line’ of ₹ 816 per capita per month for rural India and ₹ 1,000 per capita per month for urban India, calculated the poor at 25.7% of the population. The anger over the 2011 conclusions, led to the setting up of the C. Rangarajan Committee, which in 2014 estimated that the number of poor were 29.6%, based on persons spending.

The World Bank $2 a day (poverty line) might be inadequate but it would be a start and higher than the last line proposed by the C. Rangarajan committee.

Author says in the Covid times the situation of the poor is already precarious since many people have fallen into the trap of poverty also, NFHS-V shows that the IMR and MMR are not declining much and also the Malnutrition is an issue.

Author says that Quantification of poor and the estimation of their correct number is very essential :-

  • Since the Quantification will help the Government in forming the policies for the number of people affected.
  • If the correct numbers are known then we can actually measure the progress by seeing how much the condition has improved.
  • Also author says that Data is the new oil and we should have data for good governance too.

Editorial 02 : A case to decriminalise suicide

Author says that section 309 of the IPC must be repealed which criminalises the Suicide.

What happened in 2017 :- In 2017, Parliament passed the Mental Healthcare Act. Section 115 (1) of the Act provides, “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code.” However, this law applies only to those suff ering from mental illness. There is presumption of severe stress in case of an attempt to die by suicide.

Argument against the repeal of Section 309 :- Judgment in Gian Kaur V. State of Punjab (1996) where the court held that the “right to life is a natural right embodied in Article 21” of the Constitution but “suicide is an unnatural termination or extinction of life and, therefore, incompatible and inconsistent with the concept of right to life”. In Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India (2011), the Supreme Court endorsed the earlier judgment.

Argument in favour of repealing the section 309 :- Maruti Shripati Dubal v. State of Maharashtra
(1986). In this judgment, the Bombay High Court declared Section 309 unconstitutional. It said: “For example, the freedom of speech and expression includes freedom not to speak and to remain silent. The freedom of association and movement likewise includes the freedom not to join any association or to move anywhere… If this is so, logically it must follow that right to live… will include also a right not to live or not to be forced to live.”

US, EU and Britain slap sanctions on Belarus officials and companies :- The coordinated action reflected growing Western frustration over Belarus which plunged into crisis last year when street protests erupted over what demonstrators said was a rigged presidential election.

Alexander Lukashenko, the autocratic ruler of Belarus, is still in power despite years of sanctions against him and his country.

In 2004 the United States passed the Belarus Democracy Act, a federal law that is still in effect today. It allows for the promotion of civil society and the punishment of the ruling elite. In 2006, incumbent US President George W. Bush issued an executive order that froze all US-held assets and accounts belonging to Lukashenko and his close associates. That same year, after also freezing European accounts and assets, the EU imposed an entry ban on Lukashenko and some of his allies. An arms embargo was then applied in 2011.

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