Current Affairs Analysis

21st March 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Highlights of World Happiness Report 2020; Contempt of Courts Act, 1971; Difference between civil and criminal contempt; Draft of Defence Procurement Procedure 2020; United Nations World Water Development Report; Tech For Tribals; Van Dhan Kendras; Institute of National Importance; Orb2; Huntington disease; Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Whiteflies; Tectaria Macrodonta; Nowruz 2020
By IASToppers
March 23, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Courts can order passport surrender in contempt cases: SC
  • LS passes Bill to tag 5 more IIITs as institutions of national importance

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Tech For Tribals

Issues related to Health & Education

  • A key cellular mechanism in Huntington Disease unravelled

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Policy agreements on climate change must take water into account: UN report

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Finland is world’s happiest country

Defence & Security Issues

  • Draft of Defence Procurement Procedure 2020

Art & Culture

  • Nowruz 2020

Science & Technology

  • Scientists ready for field trials of pest-resistant cotton variety

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Mahatma Gandhi Bunkar Bima Yojana
  • Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)
  • Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2020

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Polity & Governance

Courts can order passport surrender in contempt cases: SC

The Supreme Court has held that courts are empowered to order parties in a contempt case to surrender their passport in order to ensure their presence in the proceedings.

Contempt of Courts Act, 1971

  • Contempt refers to the offence of showing disrespect to the dignity or authority of a court. Civil contempt refers to the wilful disobedience of an order of any court.
  • The Act confers upon certain courts power to punish individuals for contempt of themselves as also of subordinate courts.
  • The Act talks about the meaning of contempt, definitions of civil and criminal contempt, what constitutes a contempt, extraterritorial jurisdiction of the High Court, their power to punish contempts of subordinate courts, and procedure after cognizance.

Difference between civil and criminal contempt

The Calcutta High Court in Motilal Ghose case and the Allahabad High Court in Vijay Pratap Singh v. Ajit Prasad have both outlined the difference between the two civil and criminal contempt.

Civil contempt:

  • A ‘wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a Court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to the court’.

Criminal contempt:

The publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which:

  • Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court.
  • Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding.
  • Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.

The purpose of civil contempt is to make the contemner right the wrong done to a party by imposing sanctions, while the idea behind criminal contempt is to punish the contemner who has, by virtue of his insolent behaviour, dishonoured the court.

Background

  • The Contempt of Courts Act, 1926 was the first statutory legislation that granted powers to High Courts of Judicature to punish contempt of subordinate courts. The Act, however, failed to provide for contempt of courts subordinate to Chief Courts and Judicial Commissioner’s Court, and was therefore repealed by The Contempt of Courts Act, 1952.
  • The Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 did not confer any new powers on the courts but redefined ‘High Court’ to include the Courts of Judicial Commissioner and provided for the aforesaid to try for contempts subordinate to them as well.
  • After the recommendations of a committee under the chairmanship of N. Sanyal (1961), Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 was devised.
  • The Law Commission of India (Chair by Justice B.S. Chauhan) submitted its report on the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The report examined whether the definition of contempt in the Act should be restricted to civil contempt. The Commission concluded that there was no requirement to amend the Act.
  • The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 very clearly states that fair criticism of any case which has been heard and decided is not contempt.
  • The statute of 1971 has been amended by the Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006 to include the defence of truth under Section 13 of the original legislation.
  • Section 13 that already served to restrict the powers of the court in that they were not to hold anyone in contempt unless it would substantially interfere with the due process of justice, the amendment further states that the court must permit ‘justification by truth as a valid defence if it is satisfied that it is in public interest and the request for invoking the said defence is bona fide.’

Key facts:

  • Article 129: It grants Supreme Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.
  • Article 142(2): It enables the Supreme Court to investigate and punish any person for its contempt.
  • Article 215: It grants every High Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.

Source: The Hindu

LS passes Bill to tag 5 more IIITs as institutions of national importance

The Lok Sabha passed a Bill to confer the status of Institution of National Importance (INI) on five more Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs).

  • The Bill proposes to bring the five institutions — located in Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala and Raichur — under the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public-Private Partnership) Act, 2017, similar to the other 15 IIITs established under the scheme through public-private partnership.

About Institute of National Importance 

  • It is a status conferred on a premier public higher education institution by an act of Parliament of India, an institution which “serves as a pivotal player in developing highly skilled personnel within the specified region of the country/state”.

Significance of status of Institution of National Importance (INI) 

  • Receive special recognition and funding from the Government of India.
  • Able to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) or Master of Technology (M.Tech) or Ph.D degrees.
  • Help the institutes attract students required to develop a strong research base in information technology.

Source: The Hindu

Government Schemes & Policies

Tech For Tribals

Tech for Tribal has been launched by Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED).

About Tech For Tribals

  • It is a tribal entrepreneurship and skill development program.
  • Objective: Imparting entrepreneurship skills to tribal forest produce gatherers enrolledunder the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana(PMVDY).

Features:

  • The trainees will undergo a 30 days program over six weeks comprising 120 sessions.
  • Under the program, the Partners will develop course contents relevant to Entrepreneurship in Value Addition and Processing of Forest Produces.
  • The course curriculum will include Achievement Motivation and positive psychology, Entrepreneurial Competencies, Identification of locally available NTFP based Business Opportunities.

Van Dhan Kendras

  • TRIFED under Ministry of Tribal Affairs is establishing 1,200 “Van Dhan Vikas Kendra (VDVK)”, across 28 States engaging 3.6 Lakhs Tribal Forest Produce gatherers.
  • One typical VDVK comprises of 15 Self Help Groups (SHG), each consisting of 20 Tribal gatherers.

Van Dhan Vikas Kendras initiative

  • It is a component under the Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It acts as common facility centres for procurement cum value addition to locally available Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and skill based handicraft.
  • Instead of gathering NTFP products and directly selling it in the market, tribal gatherers can collect, perform primary value addition/processing at the Kendra and then sell the product in the market for better price realization.
  • A typical Vikas Kendra constitute Van Dhan Vikas Self Help Groups (SHGs), each compromising up to 30 NTFP gatherers or tribal handcraft artisans. At least 60% beneficiaries of the SHG is tribal and the SHG is led by a tribal member.
  • Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of NTFP is expected to rise from the present 20% to around 60%.

Source: PIB

Issues related to Health & Education

A key cellular mechanism in Huntington Disease unravelled

Scientists observed that the pathogenic Huntingtin protein causes a decrease in the overall protein production.

About the new discovery

  • A team of scientists from National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) observed that the pathogenic Huntingtin protein causes a decrease in the overall protein production in cells.
  • They also found that Huntingtin clumps collect together (sequester) molecules of another protein called Orb2, which is involved in the process of protein formation.
  • In humans, a family of proteins called CPEB is equivalent to the Orb2 protein in fruit flies. The scientists found that CPEB proteins are also sequestered by the pathogenic Huntingtin clumps, similar to the Orb2 protein molecules.

About Huntington disease

  • It is a progressive genetic disorder.
  • It affects the brain that causes uncontrolled movements, impaired coordination of balance and movement, a decline in cognitive abilities, difficulty in concentrating and memory lapses, mood swings and personality changes.

Cause of Huntington disease

  • It is caused by a mutation in a gene called HTT. The HTT genes are involved in the production of a protein called huntingtin.
  • They provide the instruction for making the protein. When the genes mutate, they provide faulty instructions leading to production of abnormal huntingtin proteins and these form into clumps.
  • The clumps disrupt the normal functioning of the brain cells, which eventually leads to death of neurons in the brain, resulting in Huntington disease.

Source: PIB

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Policy agreements on climate change must take water into account: UN report

Climate change will not only strain water-stressed countries, but also create similar problems in regions that have not been severely affected so far, according to a United Nations World Water Development report.

  • The UN theme for Water Day 2020 was ‘Water and Climate Change’. The report explored how the two issues are inextricably linked.

Highlights of the report

  • International policy frameworks addressing climate change must take water into account, as water is the key to reducing carbon emissions.
  • In the last century, water use has increased six-fold and continues to increase by about one per cent every year. In such a scenario, climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of water needed.
  • Deterioration of the situation would hinder achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6, according to which access to safe drinking water and sanitation must be guaranteed for all within ten years.
  • Failure to adapt to climate change also jeopardises the achievement of other SDGs. And while SDG 13 (climate action) includes specific targets, there is no formal mechanism linking SDG 13 to the goals of the Paris Agreement, resulting in parallel processes. 

About the report

  • The United Nations World Water Development Report is a global report that provides comprehensive assessment of the world’s freshwater resources.
  • It is produced annually by the World Water Assessment Programme and released by UN-Water.

Source: Down To Earth

Bilateral & International Relations

Finland is world’s happiest country

Finland to be the world’s happiest nation for the third year running, as per 8th World Happiness Report 2020.

Key Highlights of World Happiness Report 2020

  • First rank: Finland
  • India’s rank: 144
  • Nordic states (Northern Europe and the North Atlantic) dominated the top ten, along with countries such as Switzerland, New Zealand and Austria.
  • The happiest countries are those “where people feel a sense of belonging, where they trust and enjoy each other and their shared institutions’. In happiest countries, there is also more resilience, because shared trust reduces the burden of hardships, and thereby lessens the inequality of well-being.
  • The countries at the bottom are those afflicted by violent conflicts and extreme poverty, with Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Afghanistan classified as the world’s least happy nations.

About the report

  • It is a survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.
  • It is released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations by the UN General Assembly.

Key Feature of World Happiness Report 2020

  • The World Happiness Report 2020 for the first time ranks cities around the world by their subjective well-being and digs more deeply into how the social, urban and natural environments combine to affect our happiness.

About Sustainable Development Solutions Network

  • The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has been operating since 2012 under the United Nations to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
  • The SDSN and the Bertelsmann Stiftung have been publishing the annual SDG Index & Dashboards Global Report since 2016.

Key Fact

  • March 20 was designated as the World Happiness Day by the UN General Assembly in 2012.

Source: The Hindu, Economic Times

Defence & Security Issues

Draft of Defence Procurement Procedure 2020

Raksha Mantri unveiled the draft Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2020.

  • DPP 2020 aims at further increasing indigenous manufacturing and reducing timelines for procurement of defence equipment.

The major changes proposed in the new DPP:

  • Increasing the Indigenous Content (IC) stipulated in various categories of procurement by about 10% to support the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • New Category Buy (Global – Manufacture in India) has been introduced with minimum 50% indigenous content on cost basis of total contract value. Only the minimum necessary will be bought from abroad while the balance quantities will be manufactured in India.
  • Leasing has been introduced as a new category for acquisition in addition to existing ‘Buy’ & ‘Make’ categories to substitute huge initial capital outlays with periodical rental payments.
  • The Product Support have been widened to include Performance Based Logistics (PBL), Life Cycle Support Contract (LCSC), etc to optimise life cycle support for equipment. The capital acquisition contract would normally also include support for five years beyond the warranty period.
  • Field Evaluation Trials to be conducted by specialised trial wings and the objective of trials will be to nurture competition rather than elimination for minor deficiencies.
  • A “price variation clause” has been introduced that will be applicable to all cases where the total cost of contract is more than Rs 1,000 crore and the delivery schedule exceeds 60 months.

Background:

The first DPP was promulgated in 2002 and has since been revised a number of times to provide impetus to the growing domestic industry and achieve enhanced self-reliance in defence manufacturing.

About Defence Procurement Procedure

  • Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) focuses on institutionalising, streamlining and simplifying defence procurement procedure and promoting indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment and platforms in a time-bound manner without any delays.

Source: PIB, Economic Times

Art & Culture

Nowruz 2020

  • Nowruz is the Iranian New Year.
  • It is a holy festival for the Zorastian.
  • It is also known as the Persian New Year.
  • It marks the first day of spring, and while it usually takes place on March 21, the date may vary by a day before or after depending on where it is celebrated.
  • Navroz marks the first day of the month of Farvardin on the Iranian calendar.
  • In 1079 AD, an Iranian king named Jalaluddin Malekshah introduced the Navroz (New Year) festival to generate revenue and collect taxes from people.

Navroz in India

  • While Navroz in March is celebrated throughout the world, in India, people celebrate it twice a year.
  • The first according to the Iranian calendar, and the second according to the Shahen Shahi calendar, which is followed by people in India and Pakistan.

Source: Indian Express

Science & Technology

Scientists ready for field trials of pest-resistant cotton variety

In a move to fight against whiteflies, National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) Lucknow has developed a pest-resistant variety of cotton.

About Whiteflies

  • Whiteflies are one of the top ten devastating pests in the world that damage more than 2000 plant species and also function as vectors for some 200-plant viruses.
  • Cotton is one of the worst hit crops by these, in 2015 two third of the cotton crop was destroyed by the pest in Punjab.

Need

  • Bt cotton is resistant to two pests only. It is not resistant against white flies. Hence, there was need for developed a pest-resistant variety of cotton.

About the new pest-resistant variety of cotton

  • The leaf extract of an edible fern Tectaria Macrodonta causes toxicity to the whitefly. It works against whiteflies but being safe for application on the crop plants and provides protection from them.
  • When whiteflies feed on sub-lethal doses of insecticidal protein, it interferes with the life cycle of insect that in turn resulted with very poor egg laying, abnormal egg, nymph and larval development and extraordinary poor emergence of the fly. 
  • However, this protein was found to be un-effective on non-target insects. This clearly shows that the protein is specifically toxic to whitefly and does not cause any harmful effect on other beneficial insects like butterfly and honeybee.

Key Fact

  • Tectaria Macrodonta, a fern of tropical Asia having round button-like bulbils, iscommonly found in Western Ghats of India.

Source: PIB

Key Facts for Prelims

Mahatma Gandhi Bunkar Bima Yojana

The Ministry of Textiles is implementing converged Mahatma Gandhi Bunkar Bima Yojana (MGBBY) for providing social security benefits like life, accidental & disability insurance coverage to handloom weavers/workers in the age group of 51-59 years across the country.

 

Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)

  • The Global Burden of Disease data measure the burden in terms of “disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)”, which is defined as the number of years of healthy life lost.
  • India’s cardiovascular disease burden in 2017 was 4,716 DALYs per 100,000 population, way behind China (6,020) and close to the US (4,814).

Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2020

  • Recently passed Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2020, allows industries to sell agricultural land converted for industrial use by the government after a period of seven years of the industry’s operation for the purpose of continuation of the same enterprise.
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