Current Affairs Analysis

20th & 21st June 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Victory Day; Article 213; Pension is a fundamental right; PM Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi; World Sickle Cell Day 2020; Sickle Cell disease; Waterfall mechanism for liquidation; National Institute of Public Finance and Policy; International Horseshoe Crab Day; Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism; Asia Pacific Trade Agreement; World War II; COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme; SATYABHAMA Portal; Global vessels invited to Make in India Policy; Automated lung ultrasound; Sero Survey; Skeletal excavated in Keeladi; Dinosaur eggs; Water worlds; Phishing etc.
By IASToppers
June 22, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Notice to government over pension and salaries

Government Schemes & Policies

  • PM Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi

Issues related to Health & Education

  • World Sickle Cell Day 2020

Economy

  • Waterfall mechanism for liquidation
  • National Institute of Public Finance and Policy

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • International Horseshoe Crab Day

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Indian officials attend virtual EAG plenary meet
  • China embraces Bangladesh in trade
  • Victory Day

Key Facts for Prelims

  • COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme
  • SATYABHAMA Portal
  • Global vessels invited to Make in India Policy
  • Automated lung ultrasound
  • Sero Survey
  • Skeletal excavated in Keeladi
  • Dinosaur eggs
  • Water worlds
  • Phishing

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Polity & Governance

Notice to government over pension and salaries

Telangana High Court issued notices to the State government in a writ petition challenging an Ordinance empowering government to defer payment of pension and salaries of retired and serving employees respectively.

Major Highlights:

  • The Ordinance of the governor of Telangana dated June 16, and applicable retrospectively from March 24 deferred the pension and salaries of employees.
  • As per the petition the Ordinance was against the provisions of the Disaster Management Act-2005.
  • The DM Act mandates that government come to the rescue of people on all fronts during pandemics, but the ordinance is contrary.
  • The Ordinance also contravened fundamental rights of pensioners and serving employees by depriving them of their legitimate pension and salaries.
  • The court observed that the government has power to impose reasonable restrictions on fundamental rights in the larger interest of public and the Governor derived power under Article 213 to promulgate an Ordinance.
  • According to the petition the government cannot indulge in deferment of pension amounts and salaries unless there was a financial emergency.

What is Article 213?

  • The Article empowers the Governor to promulgate Ordinance, during recess of legislature, if circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.
  • The ordinance shall be promulgated only when both legislative assembly and legislative council (where applicable) are not in session.
  • The ordinance has to be passed by the legislative assembly when it commences within 6 weeks, otherwise the ordinance will cease to exist.
  • The Governor has powers to withdraw the ordinance.

Key facts:

  • The Allahabad High Court in 2006 ruled that receiving pension is the fundamental right of an employee and his family and the pension is not a bounty.
[Ref: The Hindu, Hindustan Times]

Government Schemes & Policies

PM Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched PM Svanidhi or Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi scheme in June 2020.

Objective:

  • To facilitate working capital loan up to Rs 10,000 at subsidized rate of interest;
  • To incentivize regular repayment of loan; and
  • To reward digital transactions.

Key Features:

  • This is a Central Sector Scheme to facilitate street vendors to access affordable working capital loan for resuming their livelihoods activities, after easing of lockdown.
  • Vendors can avail working capital loan of up to ₹10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments within one year.
  • Interest subsidy of 7% per annum on timely/ early repayment of loan, Monthly cash-back incentive on digital transactions and higher loan eligibility on timely repayment of the first loan.
  • Interest subsidy will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer on six-months basis.

Applicability:

  • The scheme is applicable to vendors, hawkers, thelewalas etc.in different areas/contexts who supply goods and services.
  • Street vendors belonging to the surrounding peri-urban/rural areas are also included.

Implementation:

  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) is the technical partner for implementation of this scheme and will manage the credit guarantee to the lending institutions through Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises.
  • The scheme is valid up to March 2022.

Lending institutions:

  • Scheduled Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks, Small Finance Banks, Cooperative Banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies, Micro-Finance Institutions and SHG Banks.
[Ref: MoHUA]

Issues related to Health & Education

World Sickle Cell Day 2020

The World Sickle Cell Day is observed on June 19 annually to raise awareness about SCD and its treatment methods.

What is sickle cell disease?

  • Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder, that affect red blood cells.
  • SCD cause a person’s normally round and flexible blood cells to become stiff and sickle shaped, stopping them and the oxygen they carry from moving freely around the body.
  • This can cause episodes of severe pain, referred to as sickle cell crises.
  • The cells die early, leaving a shortage of healthy RBC and can block blood flow causing pain, severe bacterial infections, and necrosis (tissue death).
  • People with sickle cell disorders are also at a risk of complications: Stroke, acute chest syndrome, blindness, bone damage and priapism.

Prevalence:

  • The disease in India occurs predominantly in eastern Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, western Odisha and in pockets of the Nilgiri Hills in north Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • In Odisha, the disease is prevalent among tribal communities.
  • The disease is widespread amongst many tribals in India, posing a considerable health burden in several states.
[Ref: Down to Earth]

Economy

Waterfall mechanism for liquidation

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal has ruled that liquidation process of a company under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code holds precedence over outcome of an arbitration proceeding.

What does the order mean?

  • The NCLAT set aside an order of Chennai National Company Law Tribunal that gave Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) charge over Surana Power assets.
  • BHEL’s claim that it has the first right over the assets and properties of Surana Power, was wrong as all other creditors had given the assent to liquidate the corporate debtor.
  • The NCLAT’s judgment essentially holds that if a corporate debtor is being liquidated, a creditor cannot claim superiority over other secured creditors in the same band.
  • Everyone must receive their fair share by following the waterfall mechanism of liquidation.

What is the waterfall mechanism for liquidation?

  • The Section 53 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, deals with waterfall mechanism.
  • The waterfall mechanism under IBC gives priority to secured financial creditors over unsecured financial creditors.
  • If a company is being liquidated, these secured financial creditors must be first paid the full extent of their admitted claim, before any sale proceedings are distributed to any other unsecured creditor.
  • The top most priority is given to costs related to the liquidation process and dues of workmen of the corporate debtor.
  • The dues of the workmen include all their salaries, provident, pension, retirement and gratuity fund, as well as any other funds maintained for the welfare of the workmen.

Secured financial creditors and unsecured financial creditors:

  • As per Waterfall mechanism secured financial creditors hold the first right over the distribution of funds followed by unsecured financial creditors and operational creditors.
  • The financial creditors provide capital to an enterprise and their interests are secured in the form of collaterals on the firm’s assets.
  • Operational creditors, who are largely suppliers of goods and services, are unsecured creditors and they cannot claim equality or precedence over financial creditors.
[Ref: Indian Express]

National Institute of Public Finance and Policy

Former Reserve Bank of India Governor, Urjit Patel has been appointed as the chairman of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP).

About the institute:

  • National Institute of Public Finance and Policy is an autonomous research institute under India’s Ministry of Finance.
  • It was founded in 1976 and isheadquartered in New Delhi.
  • It maintains an independent non-government character and pursues research in public policy, advising the Central government as well as states.
  • It conducts research on public finance and contributes to the process of policy-making relating to public finance.
  • It receives an annual grant from the Ministry of Finance and various State governments.
  • The tenure of a chairman of NIPFP is four years, which can be extended further.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

International Horseshoe Crab Day

The first-ever International Horseshoe Crab Day was observed on June 20, 2020.

About the day:

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature had decided to observe the day in 2019 at Qinzhou City in China.
  • The aim behind the day is to generate greater awareness for these ancient creatures and help in their conservation.

Horseshoe Crab:

  • Horseshoe crab is one of the oldest marine living fossils whose origin date back to 445 million years before the dinosaurs existed.
  • Only two confirmed species of HSC are known to occur in India, restricted between Ganga and Godavari estuary along Odisha, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh coasts.
  • Odisha is their largest habitat in India.
  • The crab is included in the Schedule IV of the Wild (Life) Protection Act, 1972, under which, the catching and killing of a horseshoe crab is an offence.
  • IUCN status: Data Deficient (Asian species)

Concerns:

  • Horseshoe crabs in Odisha are in danger as poachers kill them for their meat, that is popularly believed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
  • The blood of horseshoe crabs, which is blue in colour, is used for detection of bacterial endotoxins in medical applications.
  • The crabs are also commonly used as bait and in fertilizer.

Significance:

  • These animals are important ecosystem engineers and predators of small organisms in modern intertidal environment.
  • One of their ecological functions is to lay millions of eggs on beaches to feed shorebirds, fish and other wildlife.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Bilateral & International Relations

Indian officials attend virtual EAG plenary meet

Indian officials recently attended the virtual 32nd special Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG) plenary meeting, under the aegis of the Financial Action Task Force.

Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG):

  • The EAG is a regional body comprising nine countries: India, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belarus.
  • It was established in 2004 and is an associate member of the Financial Action Task Force.

Objective:

  • To ensure effective interaction and cooperation at the regional level.
  • Integration of EAG member-states into the international system of anti-money laundering.
  • Combating financing of terrorism in accordance with the Recommendations of the FATF.
  • Anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism standards.

Pakistan and FATF:

  • Pakistan continues to remain on the grey list of FATF, it had earlier been given the deadline till the June to ensure compliance with the 27-point action plan against terror funding networks and money laundering syndicates, or face black listing.
  • Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline has been shifted to the October 18-23 plenary and working group meetings, scheduled to be held in Paris.
  • Ahead of the crucial meet in October, India plans to share more evidence with the key FATF members on the narco-terror cases linked to Pakistan-based syndicates, through which funds are allegedly being supplied to the terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir.

Financial Action Task Force:

  • FATF is an inter‐governmental policy making body with ministerial mandate to establish international standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • It was created in 1989 at the behest of the G7, and is headquartered at Paris, France.
  • The FATF’s decision making body meets three times per year.
  • The FATF is a policy-making body and has no investigative authority.
  • It does not address issues related to low tax jurisdiction or tax competition.
[Ref: The Hindu]

China embraces Bangladesh in trade

China has announced tariff exemption for 97% of exports from Bangladesh which is being described as major success in Dhaka-Beijing relationship.

Major Highlights:

  • 97% of items covering fisheries and leather products would be exempted of Chinese tariffs.
  • The decision aims at enhancing bilateral relation in the background of the economic hardship triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • As per China’s State Council Tariff Commission, Bangladesh is among the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and that is why this decision was taken by China.
  • This announcement is expected to help Bangladesh cushion the economic impact of the pandemic and also emerge as a possible beneficiary alongside Vietnam and Chile of the U.S.-China trade war.
  • Bangladesh already receives tariff-exemption for 3095 items under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA).

Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA):

  • The Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (previously the Bangkok Agreement) is a preferential tariff arrangement.
  • It aims at promoting intra-regional trade through the exchange of mutually agreed concessions by member countries.
  • Its current Members are Bangladesh, China, India, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR and Sri Lanka.
  • It was signed in 1975 and is the oldest preferential trade agreement between countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Objective:

  • To hasten economic development among the seven participating states opting trade and investment liberalization measures that will contribute to intra-regional trade and economic strengthening through the coverage of merchandise goods and services, synchronized investment regime and free flow of technology transfer making all the Participating States to be in equally winsome situation.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Victory Day

A Tri-Service contingent of the Indian Armed Forces comprising of all ranks will participate in the Military Parade in Moscow to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Victory day in Russia.

About the day:

  • The Russian parade is held every year on Victory Day (May 9), which marks the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.
  • The parade has been delayed this year because of COVID-19.

World War II:

  • World War II was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945.
  • The vast majority of the world’s countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: The Allies and the Axis.
  • A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries.
  • The deadliest conflict in human history caused 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China.
  • Tens of millions of people died during the conflict due to genocides (including the Holocaust in Germany), death from starvation, massacres, disease and Nuclear bombing in Japan.

Results:

  • Collapse of Nazi Germany.
  • Fall of the Japanese and Italian Empires.
  • Allied military occupations of Germany, Japan, Austria and foundation of the Italian Republic.
  • Beginning of the Nuclear Age.
  • Dissolution of the League of Nations and creation of the United Nations.
  • Emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as rival superpowers and beginning of the Cold War era.
[Ref: TOI]

Key Fact for Prelims

COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme

  • The Government of India and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has signed a $750 million COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme.
  • It is aimed to assist India to strengthen its response to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on poor and vulnerable households.
  • The current loan will be the second to India from AIIB under its COVID-19 crisis recovery facility apart from the earlier approved $500 million loan for the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project.
  • The Primary beneficiaries would be families below the poverty line, farmers, healthcare workers, women, women’s self-help groups, widows, people with disabilities, senior citizens, low wage earners, construction workers and other vulnerable groups.

SATYABHAMA Portal

  • The Ministry of Mines has recently launched the Science and Technology Yojana for Atma Nirbhar Bharat in Mining Advancement (SATYABHAMA) portal.
  • It is aimed to promote the role of digital technology, research and development in the mining and minerals sector.
  • The portal has been designed, developed and implemented by National Informatics Centre.
  • The Central Government aims to encourage researchers and scientists to undertake qualitative and innovative research and development work in the mining and mineral sector.
  • The portal will allow researchers to submit their reports in an electronic format.

Global vessels invited to Make in India Policy

  • The government has invited global vessel owners to flag their ships in India to take advantage of the Make in India policy.
  • The government has recently revised its Make in India Policy for public procurement, under which no global tender enquiry will be issued, except with the approval of the competent authority, for the procurement of all services with estimated value of less than Rs 200 crore.
  • It is estimated that the Make in India policy will provide an opportunity to at least double the number of Indian flag vessels in the immediate term, from the present 450 to at least 900 and more over a period of 3 years.

Automated lung ultrasound

  • The IIT, Palakkad, has developed an automated lung ultrasound (LUS) for COVID-19 screening and monitoring through cloud-based image analysis and scoring system.
  • The app will be useful in time-critical COVID-19 working conditions where clinicians have time limitations in manually evaluating ultrasound videos of all patients.

Sero survey

  • Sero survey will be conducted across Haryana for a test called COVID Kavach Elisa.
  • The test will also identify antibodies being produced in the body to combat Covid-19.
  • The survey involves testing of blood serum to detect whether a person is COVID infected and has had any such infections in the past.

Skeletal excavated in Keeladi

  • Skeletal remains of a child were excavated from Konthagai village, in the sixth phase of ongoing excavations in the ancient site of Keeladi site in Tamil Nadu.
  • The skeleton was found buried between two terracotta urns that were also found on the same day.
  • Konthagai village, located around 2 km from Keeladi, is believed to be a burial site.
  • The process of carbon dating needs to be completed to determine the age of the child.

Dinosaur eggs

  • Scientists have unearthed the first fossils of soft-shelled eggs laid by dinosaurs – two disparate species from Argentina and Mongolia.
  • The discovery suggests that the earliest dinosaurs produced such eggs before some lineages turned to hard shells.
  • The embryo-containing eggs were leathery (hard texture like leather) on the outside rather than hard and calcified (harden by deposition of or conversion into calcium carbonate) like those of birds and belonged to dinosaurs Mussaurus and Protoceratops.

Water worlds

  • Scientists have spotted water plumes bursting from the icy shells of Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa.
  • NASA scientists guess that more than a quarter of the several dozen exoplanets they have analyzed could be water worlds.
  • This includes some members of the Trappist-1 system (a planetary system, located 39 light years away from the sun in constellation of Aquarius).

Phishing

  • Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), the government’s cyber watchdog, has warned of large-scale phishing attack across the country.
  • Phishing is a cybercrime where a target is contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution.
  • It is an attempt to lure the victim into providing sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information, banking, and credit card details, and passwords.
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