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The Hindu Newspaper 12th March 2020

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Questions of the Day : –

Which of the following counties is the world’s largest producer of rare earth elements?

a) USA

b) Australia

c) China

d) Kazakhstan

2)‘Rare Earths’ have application in which of the following segments?

1. Clean energy

2. Consumer electronics

3. Healthcare

Select the correct code:

a) 1 and 2

b) 2 and 3

c) 1 and 3

d) All of the above

3)‘Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)’ is associated with 

a) Kyoto Protocol

b) Cartagena Protocol

c) Bonn Agreement

d) Nagoya Protocol

1) COVID19 now a pandemic, saysWHO; India confirms 60 cases :- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesdaysaid that according to its assessment, COVID-19 “can becharacterised as apandemic”.

According to the WHO, a pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the worldbeyond expectations.

Remember that the Name of the Virus is SARS COV- 2.

2)ISRO’s YUVIKA Program :-

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched a special programme for School Children called “Young Scientist Programme” “YUva VIgyani KAryakram” (YUVIKA) from this year.

About:

Objective: Imparting basic knowledge on Space Technology, Space Science and Space Applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of Space activities.

Strategy:

ISRO has chalked out this programme to “Catch them young”.

The residential training programme will be of around two weeks duration during summer holidays.

It is proposed to select 3 students each from each State/ Union Territory to participate in this programme every year covering CBSE, ICSE and State syllabus.

Eligibility:

  • Those who have finished 8th standard and currently studying in 9th standard will be eligible for the programme.
  • The selection is based on the academic performance and extracurricular activities.
  • Students belong to the rural area have been given special weightage in the selection criteria.

3)News : ‘States to be asked to invoke Epidemic Disease Act’

“It has been decided that all States/Union Territories should be advised to invokeprovisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 so that all advisories being issued from time to time.

The Epidemic Diseases Act was passed in 1897 with the aim of better preventing the spread of “dangerous epidemic diseases”.

The Epidemic Diseases Act is one of the shortest Acts in India, comprising just four sections.

The first section explains the title and the extent, while the second gives powers to the state and Central governments to take special measures and formulate regulations that are to be observed by the people to contain the spread of disease.

The third section describes penalties for violating the regulations, in accordance with Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. The fourth deals with legal protection to the implementing officers acting under the Act.

As per Section 2 of the Act : “When the state government is satisfied that the state or any part thereof is visited by or threatened with an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease; and if it thinks that the ordinary provisions of the law are insufficient for the purpose, then the state may take, or require or empower any person to take some measures and by public notice prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public. The state government may prescribe regulations for inspection of persons travelling by railway or otherwise, and the segregation, in hospital, temporary accommodation or otherwise, of persons suspected by the inspecting officer of being infected with any such disease.”

Section 2A empowers the Central government to inspect any ship leaving or arriving at any port and for detention thereof, or of any person intending to sail therein, or arriving thereby.

Section 3 states, “Six months’ imprisonment or 1,000 rupees fine or both could be charged out to the person who disobeys this Act.”

About UNICEF :-

UNICEF was created in 1946 as International Children’s Emergency Fund (ICEF) by UN relief Rehabilitation Administration to help children affected by World War II.

UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations in 1953.

The name was shortened to United Nations Children Fund but it is still referred to as UNICEF.

It is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.

UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.

It strives to establish children’s rights as enduring ethical principles and international standards of behaviour towards children.

Awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1965 for “promotion of brotherhood among the nations”.

Headquarters: New York City.

It works in over 190 countries and territories with 7 regional offices.

Editorial of the Day :-

Fail-safeexit for America, but a worry for India

Central Theme of the Editorial  : Peace deal between the United States and the Taliban is unlikely to bring peace to Afghanistan, is geo-politically disadvantageous for India, and has serious implications for our national security.

Within 24 hours of the much publicised deal, violence and major disagreements about the deal began erupting in Afghanistan.

When the Taliban came to power in the mid 1990s in Kabul, it had few backers in the world, nor was it seen as a useful commodity by the great powers or the states inthe region, except for Pakistan,Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. And the international community was almost united in offering a normative push back against the violent outfit.

Today, the Taliban is theflavour of the season — anyone desirous of a stake in Afghanistan ordoes not want its domestic turmoilto spill over into their countrywould want to keep the Taliban ingood humour.

The only state that seems to be onthe losing end, unfortunately, of this unfolding game of chess and patience in Afghanistan is India.

India never talks to Taliban , it has kept all its egg in the Ashraf ghani’s basket.

By doing so India is in a Self defeating Position.

Taliban and Kashmir angle:- Disenchanted Kashmiri youngsters, and there are a lot of them,will interpret the events in Afghanistan as follows: “If themighty superpower USA could bedefeated by the Taliban in Afghanistan with help from the Pakistan army, defeating Indian forces in Kashmir won’t be impossible after all.”This enthusiasm is completely misplaced, but that is not the point. That the Kashmiri youth might pick up guns drawing inspiration from the situation in Afghanistan is indeed the point.

India and Other Neighbours:- Iran feels let down by India given how the latter has behaved towards it at the behest of the Americans; for Russia, India is only one of the many friends in the region — the exclusivity of Russia India relations is athing of the past — and Pakistan would consider targeting India afair game.

Editorial : 2

For a level playing field

Candidates and winners in Assembly and Lok Sabha polls have largely been from affluent sections —some even with several criminal cases against them. With elections becoming expensive, most parties have sought to field richer candidates irrespective of their merit in representing public interest.

In many cases, capable candidates stand no chance against the money power of more affluent candidates. News that the ECI is considering tightening ways to capthe expenditure of partiesis therefore quite welcome,as it should provide a more level playing field. But even this can be meaningful only if there is more transparency in campaign finance which suggests that the electoral bonds system, as it is in place now, is untenable. The ECI has also suggested bringing social media and print media under the “silent period” ambit after campaigning ends. Regulating social media will be difficult and itremains to be seen how the ECI will implement this.

The ECI’s plans to introduce new “safe and secure” voting methods, however, need thorough scrutiny.

The use now of the EVM as a standalone, one time programmable chip based system, along with administrative safeguards renders it a safe mechanism that is not vulnerable to hacking.

Any other “online” form of voting thatis based on networked systems should be avoided.

What should be done :

Two key measures are missing from the recommendations —

  1. the need for more teeth for the ECI in its fight against “vote buying” and hate speech.

Increasingly, parties have resorted to bribing voters in the form of money and other commodities inreturn for votes, and while the ECI has tried to warn outfits or in some cases postponed polls, these have not deterred them.

In times when hate speech is used during elections, the ECI has only managed to rap the offending candidates or party spokespersons on the knuckles but

2. Stricter norms including disqualification of the candidate would be needed for true deterrence.

Editorial 3:-

Ruling against judicial transparency

What has happened :- In its recent decision, in the Chief In-formation Commissioner v. High Court of Gujarat case, the SupremeCourt, regrettably, barred citizens from securing access to court records under the Right to Information(RTI) Act.

Instead, the court held that such records can be accessed only through the rules laid down by eachHigh Court under Article 225 of the Constitution.

So overall S.C has barred citizens to get case details through RTI but the citizens can get info. Using the method prescribed by the High Court under article 225.

 

Section 22 of RTI Act :- the Supreme Court’s verdict in this case hinged on Section 22 of the RTI Act which states that the RTI Act shall override any other law to the extent that the latter is inconsistent with the former.

Why is the Decision Problematic :- From a citizen’s perspective, this decision is problematic for two reasons.

One, most High Court Rules allow only parties to a legal proceeding to access the records of a case.

Some High Courts may allow third parties to access court records if they canjustify their request.

This is entirely unlike the RTI Act, where no reasonsare required to be provided thereby vastly reducing the possibility of administrative discretion.

The second reason this judgment spells bad news is that unlike the RTI Act, the procedure under the Rules of most High Courts is challenging from a logistical perspective, apart from lacking in any significant safeguards.

An application under the RTI Act can be made by post, with the fee being deposited through a postal order. The procedure is simple enough to enable most citizens file RTI applications by themselves.

Not so for the procedure under the High Court Rules. Most High Courts and the Supreme Court require physical filingof an application with the Registry, and a hearing before a judge to determine whether records should be given.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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