Current Affairs Analysis

13th May 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Atma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan; Sentence Review Board; Article 72; Article 161; Global Nutrition Report 2020; Face-off between Indian and Chinese troops; Pangong Tso lake; Naku La sector; Line of Actual Control (LAC); Ultraviolet Germicidal Radiation; Decarbonising; Krishak Kalyan fees; Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS); Development of ‘hmAbs’ that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2; Spirulina groundnut Chikki etc.
By IASToppers
May 13, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Sentence Review Board

Government Schemes and Policies

  • Atma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan

Issues related to Health and Education

  • Global Nutrition Report 2020

Defence & Security Issues

  • Face-off between Indian and Chinese troops

Science and Technology

  • Ultraviolet Germicidal Radiation

Key Facts for Prelims

  • CHAMPIONS portal
  • Decarbonising
  • Krishak Kalyan fees
  • Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS)
  • Development of ‘hmAbs’ that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2
  • Spirulina groundnut Chikki

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Polity & Governance

Sentence Review Board

The Delhi government’s sentence review board is learnt to have recommended the premature release of Manu Sharma, serving life sentence for the murder of Model Jessica Lall in 1999.

What is the issue?

  • The Sentence Review Board has recommended early release of Manu Sharma.
  • Any convict — barring one found guilty of heinous crimes such as rape and murder, murder and robbery, murder in cases of terrorism and murder while out on parole — who has completed 14 years in prison without remission is eligible for early release.

Application for remission:

  • An application for remission is considered only when a life convict has spent 14 years in jail.
  • The board takes into account several factors such as conduct of the prisoner in jail, whether crime was premeditated or a spur of the moment act, nature and gravity of crime, propensity for committing crime, prospects of post release rehabilitation etc.

State Sentence Review Boards:

  • Before 1999, states followed different standards for remitting and suspending sentences.
  • Taking cognisance of this, the National Human Rights Commission appointed a committee to look into it.
  • The committee recommended the constitution of State Sentence Review Boards to take up cases of long-serving prisoners who have applied for release.
  • The commission issued certain broad guidelines in November 1999 to ensure uniformity in the matter.
  • Some of these were modified later and another circular was issued in September 2003.
  • Various states constituted Sentence Review Boards which consider prisoners’ application for remission.

Article 72:

  • Article 72 deals with the power of the President to grant pardons and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.
  • The President can exercise the power in respect of persons convicted by a court martial, where the conviction is for violating any law to which the executive power of the Union extends and for offences which carry the death penalty.

Article 161:

  • Article 161 deals with the power of a Governor to grant pardons and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.
  • The Governor of a state shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Government Schemes and Policies

Atma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan

The Prime Minister has recently  announced a special economic package and gave a clarion call for Atma-Nirbhar Bharat.

About:

  • The special package is  to the tune of Rs 20 lakh crore, taken together with earlier announcements by the government during COVID crisis and decisions taken by RBI.
  • This is equivalent to almost 10% of India’s GDP and aimed to provide a much needed boost towards achieving ‘Atma-Nirbhar Bharat’.

Five pillars of a self-reliant India:

  1. Economy which brings in quantum jumps and not incremental change.
  2. Infrastructure which should become the identity of India.
  3. System based on 21st-century technology-driven arrangements.
  4. Vibrant Demography which is our source of energy for a self-reliant India.
  5. Demand whereby the strength of our demand and supply chain should be utilized to full capacity.

Key Features:

  • Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-reliant India Mission) would cover land, labour, liquidity, and laws, industry and businesses of all sizes, and farmers, entrepreneurs, and the middle class.
  • It stresses on the theme of self-reliance and the importance of keeping manufacturing, markets and supply chains local.
  • Local suppliers have met India’s demands in this hour of crisis, and now Indians have to be ‘vocal about local’ and buy products from them.
  • The amount includes the ~1.7 lakh crore already announced — a cash transfer and food package aimed at the most vulnerable — and the measures announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 
  • The central bank has announced liquidity infusion and targeted credit measures aggregating anything between ~4.5 lakh crore.
  • That means the package to be announced over the next few days will total around ~14 lakh crore.
  • The following initiatives may be launched: a large fund for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); a well-capitalised bad bank; a loan guarantee scheme for businesses; incentives for local manufacturing; and direct cash transfers to the poor.
  • The ~20 lakh crore package meets the demand of industry bodies.
[Ref: Hindustan Times, PIB]

Issues related to Health and Education

Global Nutrition Report 2020

 The Global Nutrition Report 2020 has released recently which identifies India as having the highest rates of inequalities in malnutrition.

About:

  • The Global Nutrition Report is annually released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • As per the report India is among 88 countries that are likely to miss global nutrition targets by 2025.
  • It also identified India as one with the highest rates of domestic inequalities in malnutrition.
  • The report emphasises on the link between malnutrition and different forms of inequity, such as those based on geographic location, age, gender, ethnicity, education and wealth malnutrition in all its forms.

Six nutrition targets:

  • In 2012, the World Health Assembly identified six nutrition targets for maternal, infant and young child nutrition to be met by 2025. These include:
    • To reduce stunting by 40% in children under 5.
    • Reduce prevalence of anaemia by 50% among women in the age group of 19-49 years
    • Ensure 30% reduction in low-birth weight.
    • No increase in childhood overweight.
    • Increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50%
    • Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.

Major Highlights:

  • According to the report India will miss targets for all four nutritional indicators for which there is data available, i.e. stunting among under-5 children, anaemia among women of reproductive age, childhood overweight and exclusive breastfeeding.
  • Underweight children: Between 2000 and 2016, rates of underweight have decreased from 66.0% to 58.1% for boys and 54.2% to 50.1% in girls.
  • However, this is still high compared to the average of 35.6% for boys and 31.8% for girls in Asia.
  • In addition, 37.9% of children under 5 years are stunted and 20.8% are wasted, compared to the Asia average of 22.7% and 9.4% respectively.
  • One in two women of reproductive age is anaemic.
  • The rate of obesity continues to rise affecting almost a fifth of the adults, at 21.6% of women and 17.8% of men.

Malnutrition and starvation deaths in India:

  • India is identified as among the three worst countries, along with Nigeria and Indonesia, for steep within-country disparities in stunting.
  • Stunting level in Uttar Pradesh is over 40% and their rate among individuals in the lowest income group is more than double those in the highest income group at 22.0% and 50.7%, respectively.
  • Stunting prevalence is 10.1% higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.
  • The same applies for overweight and obesity, where there are nearly double as many obese adult females than there are males (5.1% compared to 2.7%).
[Ref: the Hindu]

Defence & Security Issues

Face-off between Indian and Chinese troops

The incidents of face-off between Indian and Chinese troops at the Pangong Tso lake and Naku La sector were reported recently.

What is the issue?

  • The incidents of face-off and aggressive behaviour occurred on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • As per the Army and Air Force’s official statements the temporary and short duration face-offs occur as the  boundaries are not resolved.
  • Troops resolve such incidents mutually as per established protocols.
  • There was no airspace or border violation on either side.

Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along LAC:

  • As per existing agreements between India and China, operation of fighter aircraft and armed helicopters is restricted to a distance from the LAC.
  • According to the ‘Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity’ along the LAC in India-China Border Area of 1996, “combat aircraft (to include fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, military trainer, armed helicopter and other armed aircraft) shall not fly within 10 km of the LAC.

Pangong Tso lake:

  • Pangong Tso is a long narrow endorheic (landlocked) lake situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas.
  • The brackish water lake is the world’s highest saltwater lake.
  • One third of the 160 kms long lake lies in India and the other two-thirds lie in Tibet under the control of China.
  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is the demarcation line between India and China, cuts through the lake.
  • However, India and China do not agree on its exact location.

Naku La sector:

  • Naku La is a mountain pass in Sikkim located at the height of more than 5000 metres above the Mean Sea Level.

Line of Actual Control (LAC):

  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the effective border between India and China.
  • The LAC is 4,057-km long and traverses western (Ladakh, Kashmir), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh) and eastern areas (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh).
  • The Line of Actual Control is a demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory formed after the 1962 war.
  • Transgressions along the LAC into India from the Chinese side are more frequent in the Western sector.
  • China illegally occupies 38,000 sq. km of land in the erstwhile state Jammu & Kashmir.
  • It also holds 5,180 km of Indian territory in PoK under the Sino-Pak agreement of 1963.
  • China describes Arunachal Pradesh (90,000 sq km) as ‘Southern Tibet’.
[Ref: The Hindu, Tribune, TOI]

Science and Technology

Ultraviolet Germicidal Radiation

The scientists are studying the use of ultraviolet germicidal radiation (UVGI) to detect the virus in public places.

What is ultraviolet radiation?

  • UV light from the sun has shorter wavelengths than visible light and therefore is not visible to the naked eye.
  • The full spectrum of UV radiation is sourced from the sun and can be subdivided into UV-A, UV-B and UV-C rays.
  • In this spectrum, UV-C rays are the most harmful and are completely absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Both UV-A and UV-B rays are harmful, exposure to UV-B rays can cause DNA and cellular damage in living organisms.
  • UV light kills cells and its increased exposure can cause cells to become carcinogenic, thereby increasing the risk of getting cancer.

How does UVGI work?

  • Through this method, ultraviolet (UV) lights would be able to disinfect contaminated public spaces to stop the transmission of the virus.
  • UVGI uses the “destructive properties” of UV light to target pathogens.
  • It is thus considered effective in disinfecting the air and helps in preventing certain infectious diseases from spreading.
  • The approach being suggested advises using fixtures containing UVGI lamps that can be mounted on the walls or suspended from the ceilings, which are similar to fluorescent lights, which shine light on the upper interior surface of a room and trap pathogens.
  • UVGI lamps can also be installed in the corners of a room and alternatively, can be installed in air ducts of ventilation systems or portable or fixed air cleaners.

Is this method feasible?

  • UVGI is most effective in preventing infections that are chiefly spread through smaller droplets and not by direct contact or larger respiratory droplets.
  • UVGI relies on air circulation in a room, which means the circulation of air needs to be such that air from below the room, where the pathogen is generated reaches the upper-portions of the room, where the UVGI can trap the pathogen.
  • Using UVGI on a mass-scale, in public spaces such as schools, universities, restaurants and cinema halls may not be the most cost-effective way to approach disease prevention.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims

CHAMPIONS portal

  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has launched a CHAMPIONS portal which is a Technology driven Control Room-Cum-Management Information System.
  • The system utilises modern ICT tools is aimed at assisting Indian MSMEs march into big league as National and Global CHAMPIONS.
  • The CHAMPIONS stands here for Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength.
  • It is a real one-stop-shop solution of MSME Ministry and aimed for making the smaller units big by solving their grievances, encouraging, supporting, helping and handholding.

Decarbonising

  • For a country like India, in order to decarbonise the energy consumption, we need a 30-fold increase in renewable energy, 30-fold increase in nuclear energy and doubling of thermal energy which would make 70% of energy carbon free.
  • Decarbonising means reducing carbon intensity, i.e. reducing the emissions per unit of electricity generated (often given in grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour).

 Krishak Kalyan fees

  • Rajasthan government has levied 2% Krishak Kalyan fees on agricultural produce brought or bought or sold in mandis.
  • The Rajasthan government had announced the creation of the Krishak Kalyan Kosh for the purpose of ensuring fair price for farmer’s produce and to strive towards “ease of doing farming” in 2019.

Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS)

  • It was developed by Hyderabad based Research Centre Imarat (RCI), a DRDO lab.
  • It is an automated contactless UVC sanitisation cabinet.

Development of ‘hmAbs’ that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2

  • It was approved by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) through its New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) programme.
  • The project aims to generate hmAbs (Human monoclonal antibodies) to SARS-CoV-2 from convalescent phase of COVID-19 patients and select high affinity and neutralizing antibodies.
  • The project also aims to anticipate future adaptation of the virus and generate hmAbs clones that can neutralize the mutated virus so that it could be readily used for combating future SARS-CoV infections.
  • The project will be implemented by National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), IIT-Indore and PredOmix Technologies Pvt. Ltd. with Bharat Biotech International Ltd. (BBIL) as the commercialization partner.

Spirulina groundnut Chikki

  • Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) has developed Spirulina groundnut Chikki that can provide micronutrients and boost immunity of people during this time of pandemic.
  • Spirulina is a biomass of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that can be consumed by humans and animals.
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