Current Affairs Analysis

25th August 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Guwahati ropeway; National Council for Transgender Persons; Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019; Transgender Persons Act, 2019; Personal Insolvency; National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT); Disabled persons under NFSA 2013; National Food Security Act 2013; Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS); DNA Bill caste-based profiling; Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); Hyderabad; Behrupiyas; Asteroid 2018VP1; Double Asteroid Redirection Test; Hera; Dwarf galaxy aberrations; MY IAF; Indian Association of Parliamentariants on Population and Development; India’s longest river ropeway; Bonda Tribe; Nuakhai Juhar; etc.
By IASToppers
August 25, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • National Council for Transgender Persons
  • Personal Insolvency

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Directions to include disabled persons under NFSA 2013
  • DNA Bill can be misused for caste-based profiling

Economy

  • Govt of India and AIIB sign agreement for $500 million

Art & Culture

  • 50th webinar on Hyderabad under DekhoApnaDesh
  • Behrupiyas hit by Lockdown

Science & Technology

  • What is Asteroid 2018VP1?
  • Mystery behind dwarf galaxy aberrations

Key Facts for Prelims

  • MY IAF
  • Indian Association of Parliamentariants on Population and Development
  • India’s longest river ropeway
  • Bonda Tribe
  • Nuakhai Juhar

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Polity & Governance

National Council for Transgender Persons

The Central Government has constituted a National Council for Transgender Persons, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 16 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

Aim:

  • To mainstream the trans community’s concerns, focusing on livelihood issues.
  • To raise awareness about trans community and integrate them within families & the larger society.

Members:

  • Chairperson (ex-officio): Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • Vice-Chairperson (ex-officio): Union Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • Representatives from five states or Union Territories, on a rotational basis (one each from North, South, East, West and North-East regions).
  • Five members of transgender community (one each from North, South, East, West and North-East regions). The tenure of community members shall be three years.
  • Other members of the Council:  Representatives of various Ministries/Departments, representatives of NHRC and NCW.

Functions:

  1. To advise the Central Government on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons.
  2. To monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons.
  3. To review and coordinate the activities of all departments of Government and other Governmental and non-Governmental Organisations which are dealing with matters relating to transgender persons.
  4. To redress the grievances of transgender persons.
  5. To perform other functions as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019:

  • Aim: To end discrimination against transgender persons in accessing education, employment and healthcare.
  • It also recognises the right to self-perceived gender identity and provides for certification from a District Magistrate.

Definition of a Transgender person:

  • The act defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth.
  • It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar, hijra, aravani, and jogta.
  • Intersex variation is defined to mean a person who at birth shows variation in his or her primary sexual characteristics, external genitalia or hormones from the normative standard of male or female body.

Key Features:

1. Prohibition against discrimination:

  • Prohibits discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to education, employment, to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property, opportunity to hold public or private office etc.

2. Right to choose:

  • A person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.

3. Right of residence:

  • Every transgender shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.
  • If the immediate family is unable to care for the transgender person, the person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre, on the orders of a competent court.

4. Health care:

  • The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.
  • The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.

5. Certificate of identity for a transgender person:

  • A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.
  • A revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female.

6. Welfare measures by the government:

  • The act states that the relevant government will take measures to ensure the full inclusion and participation of transgender persons in society.
  • It must also take steps for their rescue and rehabilitation, vocational training etc.

7. National Council for Transgender persons (NCT):

  • To set up a National Council for Transgender persons to advise the Central government on policies and legislation related to transgender persons as well as redress the grievances of transgender persons.
[Ref: PIB; The Hindu]

Personal Insolvency

National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has allowed the initiation of insolvency proceedings against Anil Ambani after two companies promoted by him failed to pay dues on Rs 1,200 crores that they had borrowed from State Bank of India (SBI).

  • The insolvency process will be initiated against Ambani as he had given personal guarantee against the loans provided to his firms.

Process for personal insolvency:

  • In the case of banks providing loans against personal guarantee, the guarantor has to furnish a list of assets whose value is equivalent to the total amount of loan being given.
  • In case of failure to pay these assets, these guarantees can be invoked.
  • In the case of personal guarantees being invoked, the banks can claim rights only over the personal assets.
  • The bank cannot claim rights over the assets of his wife or children.

National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT):

  • NCLT is a quasi-judicial body in India that adjudicates issues relating to Indian companies.
  • NCLT was constituted under the section 408 of the Companies Act, 2013 on 1st June 2016.
  • It was based on the recommendations of Justice Eradi committee on the law relating to insolvency and winding up of companies.

Key Features:

  • NCLT is a specialized court only for Corporates, i.e., companies registered in India.
  • This will be no more than a Tribunal for the Corporate Members.
  • It will reduce the multiplicity of litigation before different forums and courts.
  • It consists of both judicial and technical members while deciding on matters.
  • Speedy disposal of cases to help reduce the number of cases.
  • NCLT & NCLAT have exclusive jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction:

  • The Appellate Tribunal is required to dispose the appeal within a period of six months from the date of the receipt of the appeal.
  • Decisions of the NCLT may be appealed to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
  • The decisions of NCLAT may be appealed to the Supreme Court of India.
  • No civil court has the jurisdiction to consider any suit or proceeding with reference to any matter which the Tribunal or the Appellate Tribunal is empowered to decide.
  • Appeals can be made by any person aggrieved by an order or decision of the NCLT, within a period of 45 days from the date on which a copy of the order or decision of the Tribunal.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Government Schemes & Policies

Directions to include disabled persons under NFSA 2013

The Department of Food and Public Distribution under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution has sent letters to States Governments/UTs to include all eligible disabled persons under the National Food Security Act 2013.

Major Highlights:

  • Section 38 of the NFSA Act, 2013 mandates that the Central Government may from time to time give directions to the State Governments for effective implementation if the provisions of the Act.
  • The Department advised all States/UTs to ensure that all disabled persons, who are eligible as per identification criteria of beneficiaries under NFSA, are covered under the National Food Security Act 2013.

National Food Security Act 2013:

  • The National Food Security Act, 2013 aimed to provide for food and nutritional security by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices.
  • The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 Kgs of food grains per person per month at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.

Salient features of NFSA:

1. Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS):

  • Up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population covered under TPDS, with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month.
  • The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 Kgs of food grains per household per month.

2. State-wise coverage:

  • State-wise coverage will be determined by the Central Government.
  • Planning Commission has determined the State-wise coverage by using the NSS Household Consumption Survey data for 2011-12 and also provided the State-wise inclusion ratios.

3. Subsidised prices under TPDS and their revision:

  • Food grains made available at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains for a period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act (2013).
  • Thereafter prices will be suitably linked to Minimum Support Price (MSP).
  • Existing prices for APL households i.e. Rs. 6.10 per kg for wheat and Rs 8.30 per kg for rice has been determined.

4. Identification of Households:

  • For coverage under TPDS determined for each State, the work of identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs.

5. Nutritional Support to women and children:

  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to meals as per prescribed nutritional norms under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) schemes.
  • Higher nutritional norms have been prescribed for malnourished children up to 6 years of age.

6. Maternity Benefit:

  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.

7. Women Empowerment:

  • The eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards.

8. Grievance Redressal Mechanism:

  • Grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels.
  • States will have the flexibility to use the existing machinery or set up separate mechanism.

9. Cost of intra-State transportation & handling of food grains and FPS Dealers’ margin:

  • Central Govt will provide assistance to States in meeting the expenditure incurred by them on transportation of food grains within the State, its handling and FPS dealers’ margin as per norms to be devised for this purpose.

10. Transparency and Accountability:

  • Provisions made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees to ensure transparency and accountability.

11. Food Security Allowance:

  • Provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals.

12. Penalty:

  • Provision for penalty on public servant or authority, to be imposed by the State Food Commission, in case of failure to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer.
[Ref: PIB; GoI]

DNA Bill can be misused for caste-based profiling

Issues have emerged around the Bill that proposes DNA sampling and profiling of citizens that it could be misused for caste or community-based profiling.

What is the issue?

  • The parliamentary standing committee on Science and Technology headed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has been scrutinizing the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill.
  • The Bill allows DNA sampling and profiling of citizens accused of crime or reported missing and storing their unique genetic information for administrative purposes.
  • The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Act, 2019, has been in the works for 15 years now.

Concerns:

  • DNA profiles of an individual containing sensitive information such as pedigree, skin colour, behaviour, illness, etc, can be misused to specifically target individuals and their families with their own genetic data.
  • It can be used to target a particular community, as the sensitive information could be used to incorrectly link a particular caste/community to criminal activities.
  • The Bill proposes to store DNA profiles of suspects, undertrials, victims and their relatives for future investigations.
  • Although this will help in identifying repeat offenders, there is no legal or moral justification for a database with high potential for misuse.
  • Due to the absence of robust data protection legislation, the security of a huge number of DNA profiles that will be placed with the National DNA Data bank and its regional centres is questionable.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Economy

Govt of India and AIIB sign agreement for $500 million

The GoI, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) signed a loan agreement for a $500 million Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III.

Aim:

  • To improve the network capacity, service quality and safety of the suburban railway system in Mumbai.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB):

  • Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond.
  • The bank was proposed by China in 2013 and the initiative was launched at a ceremony in Beijing in October 2014.
  • It became operational in January 2016.

Purpose:

  • Its purpose is to provide finance to sustainable infrastructure development and regional connectivity projects in Asia-Pacific region.

Members:

  • It has 100 approved members from around the world.
  • Major economies that are not members include Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, and the United States.
  • The authorised capital of bank is of US $100 billion, equivalent to 2⁄3 of the capital of the Asian Development Bank and about half that of the World Bank.
  • China is the largest shareholder of AIIB with 26.06% voting shares.
  • India with 7.5% vote share is second largest shareholder followed by Russia, Germany and South Korea.
  • AIIB members collectively account for 78% of the world’s population and 63 percent of global GDP.
  • It received the highest credit ratings from the three biggest rating agencies in the world and is seen as a potential rival to World Bank and IMF.

Structure:

  • The bank’s governance structure is composed of the Board of Governors as the top-level and highest decision-making body.
  • It is composed of 1 governor for each member state of the bank and in principle meets once a year.
  • Nine of those members are from within the Asia-Pacific region and three representing members outside the region.
  • Headquarters: Beijing.
[Ref: PIB]

Art & Culture

50th webinar on Hyderabad under DekhoApnaDesh 

The DekhoApnaDesh Webinar Series of the Ministry of Tourism reached a landmark of 50th session with the webinar titled Cultural heritage of Hyderabad presented on 22nd August 2020.

Hyderabad:

  • Hyderabad is popularly known as the City of Pearls and the City of Nizams.
  • It has been the centre of a vibrant historical legacy, ever since its inception by the QutubShahi dynasty.
  • 1591: Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah established Hyderabad to extend the capital beyond the fortified Golconda.
  • 1687: The city was annexed by the Mughals.
  • 1724: Mughal governor Nizam Asaf Jah I declared his sovereignty and founded the AsafJahi dynasty, aka the Nizams.
  • Hyderabad served as the imperial capital of the AsafJahis from 1769 to 1948.
  • As capital of the princely state of Hyderabad, the city housed the British Residency and cantonment until Indian independence in 1947.
  • Hyderabad has been selected as a creative city in the category of gastronomy by UNESCO.

Important cultural sites of Hyderabad:

1) Golconda Fort, Hyderabad:

  • The fort is a fortified citadel and an early capital city of the Qutb Shahi dynasty (c.1512–1687), located in Hyderabad, Telangana.

2) Chowmahalla Palace:

  • Served as the seat of the AsafJahi Dynasty.
  • The Palace was built in Hyderabad and is located near the famous monument, Charminar and Laad Bazar.
  • It has bagged the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Merit Award for Culture Heritage Conservation.

3) Charminar:

  • The monument was erected when Quli Qutab Shah shifted his capital from Golconda to Hyderabad.
  • The monument got its name from its structure as it consists of four minarets.

4) Mecca Masjid:

  • One of the oldest and the largest mosques of India completed by Aurangazeb in 1693.
  • The bricks used here are believed to be from Mecca, and hence the name.

5) QutubShahi Tombs:

  • Located in the Ibrahim Bagh, QutubShahi Tombs are a group of small and big mosques and tombs built by the rulers of the Qutub Shah dynasty.

6) Paigah tombs:

  • Located in the suburbs of Pisal Banda in Hyderabad, Paigah Tombs are a group of tombs of the Paigah royal family.

7) Warangal Fort:

  • The fort has existed since at least the 12th century, when it was the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty.
[Ref: PIB]

Behrupiyas hit by Lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic has hardly hit the livelihood of several folk artistes including Behrupiyas.

Behrupiyas:

  • The word behrupiya is a derivative of Sanskrit word bahu (many) and roop (form).
  • Behrupiya is an impressionist in the traditional performing arts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
  • They are impersonators, mostly known to perform in villages and markets all over India.
  • They can be seen in stage shows, festivals and functions.
  • Once popular and widespread art form is now in decline with most practitioners living in poverty.
  • Medieval Indian kings recruited them as spies due to their expertise with disguise and impersonation.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Science & Technology

What is Asteroid 2018VP1?

An asteroid ‘2018VP1’ or ‘Election Day Asteroid’ would come very close to Earth, a day before the US will vote in its presidential elections (3 November 2020).

Asteroid 2018VP1:

  • Asteroid 2018VP1 has a diameter of 2 metres.
  • The asteroid has a two-year orbital period and it would be as close as 4,700 miles in 2020.
  • It would likely burn up into an impressive fireball after entering the Earth’s atmosphere before reaching the ground.
  • As per NASA, there is a 0.41%, or 1 in 240 chance that 2018VP1 would impact the Earth.

Key Facts:

  • There are estimated to be around 1 billion asteroids having a diameter greater than 1 metre.
  • Objects that can cause significant damage upon impact are larger than 30 metres.
  • Theasteroids that are 140 metres or larger are of the greatest concern due to the level of devastation their impact is capable of causing.
  • The Chicxulub impactor, the celestial object that caused sudden extinction of most dinosaur species 66 million years ago, had a diameter of over 10 kilometres.

Deflecting asteroids:

  • Scientists have suggested ways like- to blow up the asteroid before it reaches Earth, or deflecting it off its Earth-bound course by hitting it with a spacecraft.
  • The most drastic measure undertaken so far is the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA), which includes NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hera.
  • The mission’s target is Didymos, a binary near-Earth asteroid, that could pose the most likely significant threat to Earth.

Double Asteroid Redirection Test:

  • In 2018, NASA announced it had started the construction of DART, scheduled to launch in 2021.
  • Aim: To slam into the smaller asteroid of Didymos binary system at around 6 km per second in 2022.

Hera:

  • Hera scheduled to launch in 2024, will arrive at the Didymos system in 2027.
  • Aim: To measure the impact crater produced by the DART collision and study the change in the asteroid’s orbital trajectory.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Mystery behind dwarf galaxy aberrations

A team of Indian astronomers from Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) have claimed to trace the mystery behind dwarf galaxy aberrations of massive star formation.

Major Highlights:

  • To understand the nature of star formation in dwarf galaxies the astronomers observed several dwarf galaxies using two Indian telescopes — 1.3-meter Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope (DFOT) and the Giant Meter wave Radio Telescope (GMRT).
  • Amidst the billions of galaxies in the universe, a large number are tiny ones which are 100 times less massive than our own Milky-way galaxy.
  • While most of these tiny tots called dwarf galaxies form stars at a much slower rate than the massive ones.
  • Some dwarf galaxies are seen forming new stars at a mass-normalized rate 10-100 times more than that of the Milky-way galaxy.
  • Star formation at a high rate requires very high density of Hydrogen in the galaxies.
  • According to the study hydrogen in these dwarf galaxies is found to be irregular and sometimes not moving in well-defined orbits.
[Ref: Live Mint]

Key facts for Prelims

MY IAF

  • Indian Air Force launched a mobile application ‘MY IAF’ at Air HQs Vayu Bhawan as a part of Digital India initiative.
  • The application has been developed in association with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
  • It provides career related information and details for those desirous of joining the Indian Air Force (IAF).
  • The user-friendly format of the app serves as a single digital platform interfacing the users with the details of selection procedure, training curriculum, pay and perks etc for both officers and airmen in the IAF.

Indian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development

  • IAPPD is a national level Organization established in the year 1978.
  • It was formed with an imperative of moderating the pace of population growth for a smoother course of development.
  • It aims to ensure an overall improvement in the quality of life of the people and maintain a proper balance between population and development.
  • The population stabilisation programme will not succeed unless it is backed by a popular mass movement in favour of a general acceptance of the small family norm.

India’s longest river ropeway

  • Guwahati, Assam got the country’s longest river ropeway that will connect two banks of the Brahmaputra.
  • Built at a cost of ₹56 crore, the ropeway will cover a distance of 1.8 km.
  • It willbring down the travelling time between north Guwahati and the central part of the city to eight minutes.
  • It will help in promoting tourism and also make commuting easier.

Bonda Tribe

  • The community members of the Bonda tribe have found infected with the novel Coronavirus.
  • Bondas are a tribal community residing in the hill ranges of Malkangiri district in Odisha.
  • Bondas, are a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), in Odisha.
  • They live in settlements comprising small hutments in the hills of the Khairaput block.
  • Odisha is home to 62 tribal communities — the largest diverse groups of tribal population in India.

Nuakhai Juhar

  • Nuakhai Juhar is an agricultural festival celebrated majorly in Western Odisha, and parts of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
  • The festival is observed on the panchami (fifth day) of lunar fortnight in Bhadrapada month (August–September), the next day after Ganesh Chaturthi.
  • Nuakhai literally means to eat new rice and is celebrated to welcome the new crop of the season.
  • The newly harvested crop (Nabanha) is offered to the respective presiding deities.
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