DAILY HINDU CURRENT AFFAIRS 9TH FEBRUARY 2020

Q.1 Attlee’s statement got lot of importance in India’s Freedom Struggle. What is the significance of it?
A. It declared the British intention of leaving the Indian subcontinent.
B. It transferred the power completely to the princely states.
C. Release of political prisoners of Freedom struggle
D. None of the above

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Mountbatten Plan
1. Independence for princely states was granted in the Plan.
2. Accession of Hyderabad to Pakistan was ruled out in the Plan.
3. A boundary commission to be set up if partition was to be effected.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 2 only
B. 1 and 3 only
C. 3 only
D. 2 and 3 only

Q.3 Which of the following personalities defended INA prisoners in the court of law
1. Dr. Ambedkar
2. Jawharlal Nehru
3. Asaf Ali
Select the correct answer using the code given below
A. 1 and 3 only
B. 2 only
C. 3 only
D. 2 and 3 only

ANSWERS: A,D,D 

MAHINDA RAJPAKSHE’S VISIT TO INDIA

Sri Lanka wants India to allow debt repayments by Colombo to be deferred for three years, visiting Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said, in order to help the country deal with its massive debt burden.

Speaking to the media after their bilateral talks at Hyderabad House, Mr. Modi said he had raised the issue of post-LTTE war reconciliation with Sri Lanka’s Tamil population.

Under 13th Amendment

However, in an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Mr. Rajapaksa gave no firm commitment on the way forward for the 13th amendment, which prescribes the devolution of powers to the Tamil minority north and eastern provinces, and ruled out any resolution that was not acceptable to the “majority community” of Sri Lanka.

Mahinda Rajapakshe made it clear that his government would not carry forward the oil projects in the eastern Trincomalee port that had been agreed to in an MoU signed by his predecessor Ranil Wickremsinghe in April 2017, or an Indian government plan to develop Mattala airport in the south, saying that those had already been “rejected”.

LOK ADALAT

NEWS:

On the fourth consecutive day of their strike, lawyers of the District Bar Association here on Saturday boycotted the Rashtriya Lok Adalat on the court premises.

The protesting lawyers barricaded the premises where the Rashtriya Lok Adalat was scheduled to take place, District Bar Association President Sunil Dutt Tyagi said.

What is Lok Adalat?

Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms, it is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably.

Based on Gandhian principles.

NALSA along with other Legal Services Institutions conducts Lok Adalats.

Their Ambit:

The Lok Adalats can deal with all Civil Cases, Matrimonial Disputes, Land Disputes, Partition/Property Disputes, Labour Disputes etc., and compoundable criminal Cases.

Key facts:

  • Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  • Under the said Act, the award (decision) made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law.
  • If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat though there is no provision for an appeal against such an award, but they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate.
  • There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat. If a matter pending in the court of law is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the court on the complaints/petition is also refunded back to the parties.
  • The disputing parties plead their case themselves in Lok Adalats. No advocate or pleader is allowed, even witnesses are not examined.

DISHA POLICE STATION

NEWS:

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has said the State is preparing to equip itself with all facilities like forensic laboratories, special courts, and public prosecutors to effectively implement the Disha Bill 2019 by June.

The Chief Minister was inaugurating the first Disha police station here on Saturday.

ABOUT DISHA ACT

Disha Act is a state law passed by the Jaganmohan Reddy’s government, soon after the brutal rape and murder of 26-year-old veterinarian in Telangana last year. Under the law, the investigation into cases of sexual offences are to be completed within seven working days from the time of record, and the trial must be concluded within 14 working days from the date of filing the charge sheet.

The appeal against the sentence passed under the new law has to be disposed of within six months. Special courts in each district will take care of such cases. This is notably less than the four months’ judgement period (two months each for investigation and trial) prescribed under the Nirbhaya Act of 2013 and the Criminal Amendment Act of 2018.

ARSENIC RESISTANT RICE

NEWS:

Researchers have developed and commercialised a rice variety that is resistant to arsenic. Several studies have shown that arsenic from groundwater and the soil can enter the food chain through paddy.

West Bengal is among the States with the highest concentration of arsenic in groundwater, with 83 blocks across seven districts having higher arsenic levels than permissible limits.

According to the World Health Organization, long-term exposure to arsenic, mainly through drinking water and food, can lead to poisoning. Skin lesions and skin cancer are the most characteristic effects.

ASSAM RIFLES

NEWS:

Troops of the Assam Rifles on Saturday uncovered an illegal drug manufacturing unit in Manipur and seized illegal drugs worth ₹120 crore in the international market, along with equipment and chemicals.

A joint team of the Assam Rifles and representatives of the Maphou police station busted the illegal drug processing and manufacturing plant from the Kamu Saichang area of Thoubal district of Manipur, the Assam Rifles said in a statement.

The plant was being utilised to extract morphine from opium which was further processed into brown sugar and heroin, it added.

ABOUT ASSAM RIFLES

Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force in India founded in 1835.

HQ: Shillong

Guards Indo -Myanmar Border under the One Border One Force Policy of Government of India.

India shares 1643km border with Myanmar and four north eastern states of ARUNACHAL PRADESH, NAGALAND, MANIPUR AND MIZORAM shares border with Myanmar.

Assam Rifles is under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs and operational control of Ministry of Defence.

INCREASE IN RTI FEES IN MP

NEWS:

The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, which rode to power after a long wait on several scams unravelled during the former BJP regime through the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005, is planning to raise the fee to file queries by 10 times.

An informed source in the State Information Commission told The Hindu that a proposal, prepared by the General Administration Department (GAD), plans to jack up the fee for the first appeal from ₹50 to ₹500 and the second appeal from ₹100 to ₹1,000, making it the most expensive to ferret out information from a public authority to check corruption and ensure transparency using the Act.

The hike has been proposed despite the Supreme Court in 2018 capping the fee per application at ₹50 and per photocopy at ₹5, an order applicable to all government authorities. The Act, however, leaves it to the State governments to frame rules on fees.

Stating that the Act’s implementation was already shoddy, Mr. Dubey said Madhya Pradesh was the only State where the offices of the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary didn’t have a public information officer.

ABOUT RTI ACT 2005

An act to

  1. provide right of information to citizens
  2. to secure access to information under the control of public authorities
  3. in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
  4. The constitution of Central Information Commission and State Information Commission.

This Act extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

INFORMATION : means any material in any form, including recored, docuements, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, Contracts,Reports.

PUBLIC AUTHORITY: means any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted by

  1. Constitution
  2. Parliament
  3. State Legislature
  4. Appropriate government
  5. Body owned controlled or substantially financed
  6. NGO substantially financed

 

IMPORTANT SECTIONS

1.Section 3: RTI is for all the Indian Citizens

  1. Section4: IT is duty of every public authority to maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the RTI under this Act.
  2. Section 6: Application for seeking the information may be made in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area along with the fees prescribed by CPIO and SPIO
  3. Section 7: information has to be provided within 30 days. If information concerns the life and liberty of person then information should be provided within 48 hours.
  4. Section 8: Certain grounds on the basis of which information might be denied.
  5. Section 19: First Appeal (30 days) and Second Appeal (90 days) to CIC and SIC.
  6. Section 20: Empowers the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission as the case may be a penalty of Rs 250 each day till application is received or information is furnished, however total amount of such penalty shall not exceed 25,000 rupees.
  7. Section 24: Act does not apply to Intelligence and Security Agencies.

 

ISSUE: NOVEL CORONA VIRUS TRANSMISSION

WHY IN NEWS?

The spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in mainland China continues unabated. On February 7, mainland China recorded 3,399 new confirmed cases of the virus and 86 deaths taking the total number of confirmed cases to 34,546 and deaths to 722. Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 2,841 new cases and 81 deaths on Friday.

Which countries/regions outside mainland China have reported novel virus cases?

As of February 7, 28 countries/regions have reported 323 cases of the 2019-nCoV. Singapore has reported the most number of cases: 33. Thailand is next with 32. Hong Kong has 26 cases (including one death); Others are Japan (25); South Korea (24); Taiwan (16); India (3), the U.K. and the Philippines (including one death); and a ship in Japan territorial waters has 64 cases.

MAIN ROUTE OF TRANSMISSION

The main route of transmission currently in China is through human-to-human transmission as the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan city, which is considered as the source of the virus, was shut down on January 1.

Can the virus be transmitted during the incubation period?

China’s National Health Commission Minister had warned that the novel virus might be spreading even during the incubation period when symptoms do not show up. Then on January 30, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reported that a Chinese woman who had shown no sign or symptoms of infection had transmitted the virus to a German during the incubation period, thus confirming what China had said.

What is WHO’s position on virus transmission during the incubation period?

WHO’s situation report posted on its website on February 1 says: “WHO is aware of possible transmission of the novel coronavirus from infected people before they developed symptoms. Detailed exposure histories are being taken to better understand the pre-clinical phase of infection and how transmission may have occurred in these few instances.”

Like in the case of Zika, can the novel virus be transmitted from mother to child (vertical transmission)?

In China, a baby born to a mother who tested positive for the virus was found to have been infected 30 hours after birth. “This reminds us to pay attention to mother-to-child being a possible route of coronavirus transmission,” chief physician of Wuhan Children Hospital’s neonatal medicine department, Zeng Lingkong, told Reuters.

But it is also possible that the baby was infected after birth probably due to close contact with the mother. No details are yet available to confirm or refute the claim by the Chinese doctor.

 

ISSUE: WHAT DOES SALE OF LIC STAKE BY GOVERNMENT MEANS?

WHY IN NEWS?

In the Union Budget speech on February 1, Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government proposed to sell a part of its holding in Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) by way of an initial public offering (IPO).

What is the implication for policyholders?

In a media interaction on Friday, LIC Chairman M.R. Kumar said: “There is no implication for policyholders. The Finance Minister has clarified that sovereign guarantee will continue. That being the case I don’t think there is anything to worry for the customer.”

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF LISTING?

The listing would usher in benefits including increased accountability, transparency and due process. There would be independent directors on board who could question the rationale for investments. Further, shareholders too could question the company on its investments.

Could listing change the payout structure at LIC?

Quite likely, according to analysts. Currently, LIC pays 5% of its surplus to the government and the balance 95% to policyholders. This makes it possible for the state-owned insurance company to give a higher bonus on the policies compared to private players, who typically give 10% of their surplus to shareholders and the balance 90% to policyholders. With outside investors becoming shareholders, with a few even gaining seats on the insurer’s board, there could be a demand to tweak the mix between shareholders and policyholders.

Does LIC have bad loans?

At a time when all banks are reeling under the pressure of bad loans there is intense speculation on LIC’s non-performing assets (NPAs). While media reports have posited that LIC has about 6% gross NPAs. Mr. Kumar, however, clarified that on an overall basis, it was not even 1%.

ISSUE:  REVERSE OSMOSIS DEBATE

WHY IN NEWS?

The Union Environment Ministry has issued a draft notification that seeks to regulate membrane-based water filtration systems in areas where the source of water meets drinking water norms of the Bureau of Indian Standards

What are reverse osmosis (RO) systems?

RO was originally a technology devised to desalinate sea water. The idea exploits the principle of osmosis. Take a tube, twist it into a ‘U’-shape and insert a semi-permeable membrane (a material with very small holes that will allow only certain molecules to filter through) at the point where the tube curves. Fill half the tube with salt water and the other with freshwater. Over time, fresh water will cross over into the salty arm until the proportion of salt and water in both arms is the same. This is due to osmotic pressure which dilutes a region with a higher concentration of solute (in this case, the salt).

RO desalination came about in the late 1950s and primarily in large industrial settings to convert brackish sea water into potable drinking water.

However, it is possible to deploy a wide array of membranes and multiple stages of filters to filter a wide variety of solutes — arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates, bacteria — that come mixed in water. This has led to an industry of home-RO systems that are installed in a multiplicity of ways to provide potable water.

What is the problem with RO?

In making tap water pass through multiple stages of cleaning, RO systems end up wasting a lot of water. Anywhere between three-five times more water is wasted by them than they produce and given the challenges that cities and government face in providing potable water, environmentalist groups have convinced the National Green Tribunal to ban the use of RO systems in Delhi. It is as part of this legal dispute, which began in March 2019 that led the Environment Ministry to move to regulate RO systems.

Another concern with RO is that it filters out calcium, zinc, magnesium, which are essential salts needed by the body; drinking such water over time could be harmful.

The National Institute of Virology (NIV) claimed that most filtration methods did not eliminate Hepatitis E virus. A combination of filtration systems can eliminate most contaminants.

How is the quality of piped water in the country?

Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, the Prime Minister has committed to provide tap water to the entire country by 2024. However, studies show that the existing quality of piped water is deficient in much of India. Last year, the Department of Consumer Affairs undertook a study through the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on the quality of piped drinking water being supplied in the country. In Delhi, all samples drawn from various places did not comply with the BIS’s requirements.

BATS AS CARRIER OF VIRUSES

Bats serve as natural hosts for numerous viruses including Ebola virus, Nipah virus, coronoviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the 2019 novel coronovirus that has infected nearly 10,000 people and killed over 200 others. Even as these viruses cause harm in humans, they rarely if at all cause any harmful effects in bats. This is the case even when the viral load is extremely high in bats.

How bats differ

The reason why bats can harbour these viruses without getting affected is simply because bats can avoid excessive virus-induced inflammation, which often causes severe diseases in animals and people infected with viruses.

While inflammation was high in the case of humans and mice, it was significantly reduced in bats immune cells.

The researchers found that significantly reduced inflammation in bats was because activation of an important protein — NLRP3 — that recognises both cellular stress and viral/bacterial infections was significantly dampened in bat immune cells.

Four variants

The NLRP3 protein is found as four variants in bats. The researchers found that the function of all the four variants was dampened compared with human NLRP3. To test if their finding on NLRP3 hold true in evolutionally distant bats, the researchers studied two very distinct species of bats — Pteropus alecto, which is a large fruit bat known as the Black Flying Fox, and Myotis davadii, a tiny vesper bat from China.

SPORTS

U-19 WORLD CUP

 

 

PERSON IN NEWS

NIKET DALAL:  Niket Dalal, a 38-year-old from Aurangabad, created history on Friday by becoming the first completely visually-challenged athlete to finish an Ironman triathlon.

PULLELA GOPICHAND: India’s chief National badminton coach P. Gopi Chand was on Saturday named among the recipients of the International Olympic Committee’s 2019 Coaches Lifetime Achievement Award.

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