Current Affairs Analysis

31st July 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Aerial seeding; Abetment of Suicide; Section 306 section of IPC; Cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable; Sangarabonia Sreenu case; Sanjay Singh case; Difference between Insolvency & Bankruptcy; How does insolvency resolution process (IRP) works? What is a pre-pack? How many trains will the private players operate? Benefits of Privatization of Railways; Concerns related to privatization; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); AIM-iCREST; Misuse of Antibiotics; India`s Dairy Industry; Toxic Truth Report; UNICEF; Lead Poisoning of Children; India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMTTH); Australia; LY6e and PLpro; Lepcha People;etc.
By IASToppers
July 31, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Abetment of suicide, and how the court determines if it took place
  • Protesting is a fundamental right: UN

Government Schemes & Policies

  • AIM-iCREST

Economy

  • What are pre-packs under the present insolvency regime?
  • Why private firms are being invited to run trains in India

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Aerial seeding
  • Misuse of Antibiotics
  • Toxic Truth Report

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Commonwealth countries lagging behind on modern slavery
  • India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMTTH)
  • Acquiring Australian Citizenship

Science & Technology

  • LY6e and PLpro

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Lepcha People

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Polity & Governance

Abetment of suicide, and how the court determines if it took place

The controversy surrounding the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput took a new turn as the actor’s father filed an FIR against actor Rhea Chakraborty and five others, for abetment of suicide.

What is the crime of Abetment?

  • Abetment is defined as instigating, engaging in a conspiracy or assisting in committing the offence.
  • The requirement of abetment as per section 107 must be fulfilled to hold anyone as an abettor. This requirement are:
  • Instigates any person to do that thing; or
  • Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing
  • Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.

Abetment of Suicide Punishment:

The abetment of suicide is dealt in two sections in IPC:

  • Section 306:A person abetting the suicide shall be punished with imprisonment up to 10 years and fine.
  • Section 305: if any person under 18 years of age, any insane/delirious/idiot or anyone in a state of intoxication commits suicide, whoever abets such suicide, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, or maximum imprisonment of 10 years, and fine.

A person is guilty of abetment (act of helping/encouraging someone to do something wrong) when:

1) He instigates someone to commit suicide (or)

2) He is part of a conspiracy to make a person commit suicide (or)

3) He intentionally helps the victim to commit suicide by doing an act or by not doing something that he was bound to do.

Cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable

  • Abetment of suicide is a serious offence that is tried in a Sessions court and is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable.
    • A cognizable offence is one in which a police officer can make an arrest without a warrant from a court.
    • A non-bailable offence means bail is granted to the accused at the discretion of the court, and not as a matter of right.
    • A non-compoundable offence is one in which the case cannot be withdrawn by the complainant even when the complainant and the accused have reached a compromise.

Is abetment of suicide the same as murder?

  • No. The Supreme Court clarified this issue in 1997 in the case of ‘Sangarabonia Sreenu v State of Andhra Pradesh’.
  • Despite the intention of the accused to drive a person to commit suicide, the final ‘act’ of causing the death of a person in murder is committed by the accused which is not the case in abetment of suicide.

How will a court determine if the accused has abetted the suicide?

  • There are two primary factors of the crime of abetment of suicide: i) Suicidal death and ii) Intention of the accused to abet such suicide.
  • Whether a death is a suicide or not is a determination of a fact, which means evidence has to be evaluated to pronounce that death is a suicide.
  • In common parlance, the word suicide is attributed to every case of self-destruction, but suicide is never presumed. A determination of suicide is made when the deceased person is understood to have known the probable consequence of what the self-harm is about to do to the person and yet, does so intentionally.
  • Once such a determination is made, then the intention of the person accused of abetment of suicide is looked into.
    • Exception: the only exception to this is the abetment of the suicide of a woman married for seven years or less. Through an amendment in 1983 in the Code of Criminal Procedure, the law was changed to presume that the husband is guilty if his wife commits suicide within seven years of the marriage. The amendment was made to curb rising dowry deaths that were categorised as suicides.

How is the intention to drive a person to suicide determined by the court?

  • The intention is find out from acts of the accused in proving any crime.
  • In ‘Sanjay Singh v State of Madhya Pradesh’ (2002), supreme court held that a statement uttered in haste, anger would not amount to abetment of suicide.
  • Also, to prove that there was abetment of suicide, the facts and circumstances must be taken into consideration. Like in the case of Gurbachan Singh v. Satpal Singh, the deceased woman, a newly wedded bride, had various injuries and physical torture made by in-laws.
  • In a recent 2017 ruling, supreme court also said that involvement of the accused must be connected strongly.
    • Example: Suppose, Person A says “go, die” in anger to Person B and B hang herself to death subsequently, Person A cannot be charged with abetment to suicide. Because A did not intend to instigate B to commit suicide and merely uttered the words in a fit of anger. In such a case, the court would look into Person A’s general behaviour towards B and determine the intention.
  • In the same case, if a husband and his family have subjected the wife to continuous physical abuse since the marriage and drove her to commit suicide, they can be held liable for the offence.
    • Instigation has to happen continuously over a reasonable period of time. The suicide must also be a direct consequence of the instigation and cannot be a mere coincidence or very remote to the committing of suicide.
    • Additionally, if the deceased person is found to be very sensitive compared to a reasonable person, the court has said that the charge of abetment to suicide would weaken.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Protesting is a fundamental right: UN

Recently, a panel of independent experts of the United Nations Human Rights Committee published a fresh interpretation of the right of peaceful assembly. They reaffirmed that protesting peacefully, online or in person, is a fundamental human right.

Other Observations by the Committee:

  • According to one of the committee members, it was a fundamental human right for people to gather to celebrate or to air grievances, in public and private spaces, outdoors, indoors and online.
  • Everyone, including children, foreign nationals, women, migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees, can exercise the right of peaceful assembly.
  • Governments could not prohibit protests by making generalised references to public order or public safety, or an unspecified risk of potential violence.
  • Governments cannot block internet networks or close down any website because of their roles in organising or soliciting a peaceful assembly.
  • Stressed the right of journalists and human rights observers to monitor and document any assembly, including violent and unlawful ones.

About International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):

  • The ICCPR is an international human rights treaty adopted by United nations in 1966. It came into force from March 23, 1976.
  • The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
  • The ICCPR is monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee which reviews regular reports of States parties on how the rights are being implemented.
  • There are currently 74 signatories and 168 parties to the ICCPR. India ratified the ICCPR in 1968 but is yet to enact the legislation for the same.

Some of the rights protected under the ICCPR include:

  • Article 6 – Right to life; Article 12 – Freedom of movement and choice of residence for lawful residents; Article 18 – Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; Article 19 – Right to hold opinions without interference; Article 26 – Equality before the law and among others.
[Ref: The Hindu, IASToppers.com]

Government Schemes & Policies

AIM-iCREST

NITI Aayog`s Atal Innovation Mission in partnership with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wadhwani Foundation launched the AIM-iCREST (an Incubator Capabilities enhancement program for a Robust Ecosystem)

Key Features:

  • Creating high performing Startups.
  • Upscaling and providing requisite support to AIM’s incubators
  • Provide access to global expertise and showcase proven best practices to the AIM’s incubator network.
  • Encourage and enable holistic progress in the incubator ecosystem across the country.
  • Providing training to entrepreneurs, through technology-driven processes and platforms.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Advancing innovation at scale in India.
  • A holistic progress in the incubator ecosystem
[Ref: PIB]

Economy

What are pre-packs under the present insolvency regime?

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has set up a committee to look into the possibility of including “pre-packs” to offer faster insolvency resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), while maintaining business continuity and thereby preserving asset value and jobs.

Difference between Insolvency & Bankruptcy

  • Insolvency is a state of economic distress, whereas bankruptcy is a court order that decides how an insolvent debtor will deal with unpaid obligations (that usually involves selling assets to pay the creditors).
  • Thus, an individual/entity can be insolvent without being bankrupt and insolvency can lead to bankruptcy if the insolvent individual/entity is unable to overcome the financial catastrophe.

How does insolvency resolution process (IRP) works?

  • Under insolvency resolution process (IRP), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) initiates a corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) when a company defaults on making payment to creditors.
  • A financial creditor, operational creditor or corporate itself can file an application before NCLT for initiating IRP when default has occurred.
  • An interim resolution professional is appointed with the power to take charge of the company which has defaulted. The professional’s task is to take necessary steps to revive the company.
  • The IRP is granted 330 days (including normal CIRP period of 180 days, one-time extension up to 90 days and time taken in legal proceedings) to find a resolution. If the IRP fails to find a resolution by then, the company is liquidated to pay the creditors.

Need

  • Slow progress in the resolution of distressed companies has been one of the key issues raised by creditors regarding the CIRP under the IBC with 738 of 2,170 ongoing insolvency resolution processes having already taken more than 270 days at the end of March.

What is a pre-pack?

  • A pre-pack is an agreement for the resolution of the debt of a distressed company through an agreement between secured creditors and investors instead of a public bidding process.
  • This system of insolvency proceedings has become an increasingly popular in UK and Europe over the past decade.
  • In India’s case, such a system would likely require that financial creditors agree on terms with potential investors and seek approval of the resolution plan from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
  • This process would likely be completed much faster than the traditional CIRP which requires that the creditors of the distressed company allow for an open auction for qualified investors to bid for the distressed company.

Other key benefits of a pre-pack

  • In the case of pre-packs, the incumbent management retains control of the company until a final agreement is reached.
  • Transfer of control from the incumbent management to an insolvency professional as is the case in the CIRP leads to disruptions in the business and loss of some high-quality human resources and asset value.

What are some of the drawbacks of pre-pack?

  • The key drawback of a pre-packaged insolvency resolution is the reduced transparency compared to the CIRP as financial creditors would reach an agreement with a potential investor privately and not through an open bidding process.
    • This could lead to stakeholders such as operational creditors raising issues of fair treatment when financial creditors reach agreements to reduce the liabilities of the distressed company.
  • There may be questions of whether secured lenders have been fair to other creditors.
  • Also, bankers themselves may hesitate to restructure liabilities outside of an open bidding process for fear of their decisions leading to investigations by agencies.
  • Unlike in the case of a full-fledged CIRP which allows for price discovery, in the case of a pre-pack the NCLT would only be able to evaluate a resolution plan based on submissions by the creditors and the investor.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Why private firms are being invited to run trains in India

The Centre is reported to be considering incremental steps to privatize the Indian railways.

How many trains will the private players operate and when?

  • In 2019, the government has identified 109 busy routes across India to run 151 private trains for 35 years. The 151 trains represent only around 5 % of total trains run in India.
    • The contract period of 35 years is based on the fact that trains and engines are usually in service for around three decades.
  • For the project, the routes are divided into 12 clusters based out of major city centres, such as Patna, Secundrabad, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Prayagraj, Howrah, Chennai, Chandigarh, and two each for Delhi and Mumbai.
  • The first 12 trains are estimated to roll out by 2022-23, 45 in 2023-2024, 50 in 2025-26, and remainder 44 in 2026-27.

What kind of service is expected from private trains?

  • Eligibility: Any company with a minimum net worth of Rs 1165 crore in the last financial year can apply for private trains. This is different for different clusters depending on how much Railways estimates a cluster is worth.
  • Trains introduced by private players are a definite upgrade from what Indian Railways offers.
  • They have to run at a maximum speed of 160 kmph, can be either trainsets (like the Vande Bharat) or hauled by locomotives, have to satisfy all safety preconditions on the Indian network. And be certified by bona fide certifying agencies.
  • Each train will have a minimum of 16 coaches and the maximum length of trains permitted on any route.

However, the private operator can decide the price of its services and what kind of add-on facilities it wants to provide.

What will Indian Railways get from the private players?

  • The private operator is supposed to share revenues with Railways.
    • The qualifying company that agrees to share the maximum percentage of the yearly revenue with Railways will win the bid.
  • Railways will also get a standard haulage charge, akin to track access charge on a per-km basis. This charge is levied as the cost of using railway terminals, physical transportation of the train, track maintenance, signalling and overheads.
    • Railways has also set certain key performance indicators for the private player, like punctuality, reliability, and maintenance of trains. Lapse in maintaining the key performance indicators will invite a penalty, to be built into the haulage charges.

What will Railways give to the private players?

  • In return, Railways will be contractually bound to provide “non-discriminatory access” to private trains. This means that even though its own trains on the same route will be in competition with the private trains, railways cannot give unfair advantage to its own trains.
  • If the private player fails to meet its key performance indicators due to lapses on part of Railways, then the private company will also be liable to pay certain damages.
  • Railways will give land to private players to set up maintenance facilities for the trains. After completion of 35 years, the maintenance facilities will belong to Railways.

Why private players?

Utilization of free tracks

  • It is estimated that almost 70 % of freight trains will shift to the two upcoming Dedicated Freight Corridors from December 2021 – Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai) and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni in West Bengal).
  • This will free up a lot capacity to introduce more passenger trains with better services and higher speeds.

Modernization of Indian railways with cutting loss of government

  • In the normal course, demand for train seats is much more than available, on all busy routes. The result is waiting lists, overcrowded trains, and even losing business air and road mode.
  • Introducing new, modern trains and giving upgraded facilities requires heavy investment. Also, Indian Railways recovers only around 57 % of the cost through tickets on an average. The rest is cross-subsidised through earnings from its freight operations.
  • In this context, to cut its losses, the government decided to run private trains, in a business model never tried in India before.
    • This move envisages a total investment of around Rs 30,000 crore into the railway system through rolling stock and other expenditure, to be borne by the private players.

Benefits of Privatization of Railways:

  1. Safety and punctuality could improve. For e.g. British Railways has seen improvement in these parameters after privatization.
  2. With rise in car ownership costs, rapid urbanization there could be demand for greater utilization of public transport services. The government with limited financial capabilities cannot be expected to solve this problem quickly and efficiently. This provides a case for privatization of essential public transportation means like railways.
  3. Railway services could attract foreign capital. Additionally, this would create competition between domestic and foreign players. Ultimately, customer satisfaction would enhance.
  4. Competition between players will create competition for increased connectivity to new areas. This would help link new areas into the Railway connectivity map.
  5. Greater manufacturing, research and development expenditure could take place in India.
  6. In the longer run, greater research and development spending could help develop new wagons for movement of goods. When seen in collaboration with point 4 mentioned above, newer areas can transport their goods to the national market cheaply, swiftly and efficiently.
  7. Private ownership would aim to improve services and cut costs to ensure profitability. While creating new employment opportunities.
  8. The government envisages around Rs 50 lakh crore of investment in rail projects up to 2030, but as per Union Budget 2019, only a part of it can be financed by government, and public-private partnerships are needed for faster development.

Concerns related to privatization

  1. The strong worker unions of Indian Railways need to be convinced. This could be a herculean task. Citing examples of other countries, notably Britain, the unions have argued that private operations of passenger trains have been a failure.
  2. Any untoward incidents like accidents can cause greater government scrutiny and create regulations which may affect performance or efficiency.
  3. Competition from other modes of transport can affect private railway revenues. This could give rise to crony capitalism.
  4. Railways is a vertically integrated organization and it is difficult to privatize a portion of Railway operations. It will make coordination difficult between state and private operators.
  5. Since the Indian railways carries more passengers on sleeper and unreserved coaches than in the more expensive air-conditioned ones, the optimal differential pricing in private trains will be difficult to achieve.
  6. One of the problems of free market system is greater connectivity between sectors of economy. If one sector say banks are hit with any crisis, other sectors of the economy might also take a hit. If such a situation arises among private players in India, it could lead to problem of debt trap. Which can cause a vicious cycle as mentioned below.

Suggestions

  • In India, there was no public discussion relating to privatization of passenger trains. This needs to be addressed to ensure greater public support.
  • Regulations must ensure level playing field for all players and relevant stakeholders.
  • The transition to privatization needs to be carried out in a transparent manner and must remain immune from political meddling.
  • One way of ensuring efficiency would be to have different operators owning and managing different segments of the railways, such as rolling stock, tracks, telecommunications, stations and passenger services like catering and cleaning. These operations would result into a coherent entity, which would be supervised by an independent authority.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Aerial seeding

The Haryana Forest Department has started aerial seeding across the state on a pilot basis.

About Aerial Seeding:

  • A technique of plantation in which seed balls containing seeds along with the coating containing a mixture of clay, compost and other components are sprayed on the ground using aerial devices like drones, helicopters or planes.
  • These seed balls will sprout when there is enough rain. The coating provides nutrients for initial growth.

Expected Benefits:

  • Initiate plantation in difficult or inaccessible areas like Aravallis in Haryana.
  • Eliminate the need for ploughing and digging holes in the soil.
  • The clay shell along with other items in the mixture protects the seed against birds, ants and rats.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Misuse of Antibiotics

Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) published a survey report on antibiotic use in the dairy sector.

About India`s Dairy Industry:

  • India is the world’s largest milk producer.
  • It produced a massive 188 million tonnes in 2018-19.
  • Urban areas consume 52%.
  • The unorganized sector, comprising milkmen and contractors, caters to 60% of this consumer base.
  • While the remaining 40% is met by dairy cooperatives and private dairies which represent the organized sector.

Key Points released by the survey:

  • Antibiotics are extensively misused in the dairy sector.
  • Farmers often sell milk while the animal is under treatment, which increases the chances of antibiotic residues.

Causes:

  • Dairy farmers indiscriminately use antibiotics for diseases.
  • Antibiotics are easily available without the prescription of a registered veterinarian and stocked at farms.
  • Farmers often inject animals based on their judgment of signs and symptoms of a disease without any veterinary supervision.
  • Inadequate focus on testing for antibiotic residues in the milk collected by some State federations.

Potential Outcomes: 

  • Risk of antibiotic resistance in the food value chain.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Toxic Truth Report

  • Recently, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and non-profit Pure Earth released a report titled “The Toxic Truth: Children’s Exposure to Lead Pollution Undermines a Generation of Future Potential”.
  • According to the report, a third of the world’s children (around 800 million) are affected by lead poisoning.
  • India accounts for 275,561,163 of these cases.
  • Lead exposure can lead to lifelong cognitive, neurological and physical impairment.

Key Points:

  • Lead is a potent neurotoxin and causes irreparable harm to the brains of babies and children.
  • Lead levels in the blood of Indian children showed they could lose four intelligence quotient points.
  • Lead exposure during childhood is linked to an increase in crime and violence.
  • Kidney damage and cardiovascular diseases were also prevalent among older children exposed to lead.
  • Middle- and low-income countries were the most affected by the problem of lead exposure. The countries lost almost $1 trillion of economic potential.

Causes:

  • Informal and sub-standard recycling of lead-acid batteries.
  • Untreated discharge released directly into stationary and mobile water resources.
  • The parents of children who work in lead-based factories also brought home contaminated dust, increasing exposure to children.
  • Folk remedies and cosmetics used by households that contained lead. Sindoor (vermillion), a traditional cosmetic powder used by women in the Indian subcontinent, also has traces of lead.
[Ref: Down to Earth]

Bilateral & International Relations

Commonwealth countries lagging behind on modern slavery

A report was released by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and an international anti-slavery organisation Walk Free on the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

  • The report assessed the progress made by Commonwealth countries on the promises made in 2018 to end modern slavery by 2030 and achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending forced labour, human trafficking and child labour

Commonwealth Countries

  • The Commonwealth of Nations is a political association of 54 member states, nearly all former territories of the British Empire.
    • The last 2 countries to join the Commonwealth – Rwanda and Mozambique – have no historical ties to the British Empire.
  • The members have almost a third of the world population. The largest Commonwealth country by population is India followed by Pakistan.
  • 32 members of commonwealth are classified as small states (vulnerable to climate change or developmental challenges)
  • Every 2 years, member countries meet at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
  • All members have an equal say regardless of size or wealth.

Objective:

  • The instrument which sets out the Commonwealth’s objectives is the 1971 Singapore Declaration, which committed the Commonwealth to world peace; promotion of representative democracy and individual liberty; the pursuit of equality; the fight against poverty, ignorance, and disease; and free trade.

Background 

  • The Commonwealth dates back to the first half of the 20th century with the decolonization of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories.
  • It was originally created as the British Commonwealth of Nations through the Balfour Declaration (1926).
  • The current Commonwealth of Nations was formally constituted by the London Declaration (1949).

Highlights of the report

  • Commonwealth countries accounts for about 40% of people living in conditions of modern slavery in the world.
  • Commonwealth countries have made little progress towards their commitment to eradicate modern slavery by 2030, despite an estimated one in every 150 people in the Commonwealth living in conditions of modern slavery.
  • One-third of the Commonwealth countries had criminalised forced marriage, while 23 had not criminalised commercial sexual exploitation of children.
  • Out of 54 countries, only 4 engage with business to investigate supply chains, and all countries report gaps in victim assistance programs.
  • National coordination plans in all Asian Commonwealth countries were weak

India-Specific Highlights

  • India accounted for one-third of all child brides in the world.
  • India had fared the worst in terms of coordination, with no national coordinating body or National Action Plan in place.
  • India, like all other Commonwealth countries in Asia, had not ratified the International Labour Organisation’s 2011 Domestic Workers Convention or the 2014 Forced Labour Protocol.

Recommendations to eradicate slavery

Support Survivors

  • Increase identification of modern slavery victims by providing regular training for all frontline service providers.
  • Ensure the meaningful participation of survivors in the design of a modern slavery response.

Strengthen Criminal Justice

  • Criminalise all forms of modern slavery, and ensure penalties are proportionate to the seriousness of the offence.
  • Ratify and domesticate relevant international instruments, including the 2014 Forced Labour Protocol and the 2011 Domestic Workers Convention.
  • Remove barriers to victim participation in the criminal justice system
  • Ensure that victims and survivors have access to effective remedies, including compensation.

Improve Coordination and Accountability

  • Improve coordination among national agencies by developing evidence-based national actions plans and establishing national referral mechanisms.
  • Improve cross-border collaboration and data-sharing to tackle modern slavery.

Address Risk Factors

  • Ensure labour protections extend to all groups, including migrant workers and children by strengthening and enforcing national laws and policies This is particularly important as states rebuild economies in response to COVID-19.
  • Support regional and national level research on trends, prevalence, and the effectiveness of different approaches.
  • Address the specific vulnerabilities of women and girls of modern slavery by providing primary education to all.

Eradicate Exploitation from Supply Chains

  • Identify sectors at high risk of forced labour, and work with businesses in those sectors to develop initiatives to mitigate risks of forced labour.
  • Strengthen laws applicable to public procurement and business supply chains, including by implementing mandatory transparency requirements and human rights due diligence.
[Ref: The Hindu]

India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMTTH)

The Supreme Court has stayed the litigation initiated by a defaulting contractor tasked to build the IMTTH before the Manipur high court.

About India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway

  • Total length:  1,360 km.
  • Connects India with Thailand through Myanmar.
  • Signed in 2016 and is to be completed in 2020.
  • The road will connect Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar.
  • The IMT trilateral highway project is largely funded by the Indian government.
  • Delays affected the implementation of the project.

Expected Benefits:

  • The project will boost trade and commerce in the ASEAN–India Free Trade Area.
  • Help connect with rest of the countries in Southeast Asia like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
  • Act as a counterweight to the strategic influence of China in the region.
[Ref: The Hindustan Times]

Acquiring Australian Citizenship

Out of the over 200,000 people who became Australian citizens in 2019-2020, 38,209 were Indians, the highest number on record.

About Australia:

  • Australia comprises of mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands.
  • It is the largest country in Oceania and the world’s sixth-largest country by total area.
  • Canberra is the capital and Sydney is the largest city. Other major cities are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.
  • A megadiverse country, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east, and mountain ranges in the south-east.
  • Australia is a highly developed country, with the world’s 14th-largest economy. It has a high-income economy, with the world’s tenth-highest per capita income.
  • Natural Resources found in Australia include alumina, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, rare earth elements, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum.  Australia is the world’s largest net exporter of coal accounting for 29% of global coal exports
  • Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum, and the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism.
[Ref: Livemint]

Science & Technology

LY6e and PLpro

  • Researchers from Germany, Switzerland have published a study related to LY6e in the journal Nature Microbiology.
  • Also, another research about PLpro protein by Goethe University and University Hospital Frankfurt was published in the journal Nature.
  • Both the above researches are related to SARS-CoV-2.

About LY6e:

  • LY6e is a protein, produced by the human immune system.
  • Itprevents coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, from fusing with host cells.

About PLpro:

  • The researchers found that pharmacological inhibition of a protein called PLpro blocks virus replication.
  • Italso strengthens our immune response.

Process of PLpro:

Expected Benefit:

The knowledge would be beneficial for the development of better medicines.

[Ref: The Hindu]

Key Facts for Prelims

Lepcha People

  • Lepchas are also called Rong.
  • Lepchas are Mongoloid tribe.
  • They are found in India, Nepal and Bhutan. In India, they reside in the states of Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan, Sikkim and West Bengal (Darjeeling).
  • Their language is an admixture of Nepalese and Sikkimese languages, which is very familiar with Indo-Chinese language.
  • The Lepchā are primarily monogamous and have large patrilineal clans.
  • Traditionally hunters and gatherers, but now also engage in farming and cattle breeding.
  • Originally, Lepchas practised nature worship, but in due course, have embraced Buddhism.
[Ref: The Hindu]
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