Flash-Cards-for-IAS-Prelims-2018-CA-Day-10
70 Days WAR Plan

Day#10 Current Affairs Flash Cards [70 Days WAR Plan]

Geographical Indication (GI); National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC); Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal; Kalasa-Banduri Nala project; National Policy on Biofuels; Defense India Start-up Challenge; Restricted Area Permit (RAP) regime; Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS); Scrub typhus; Mental Healthcare Act, 2017; None of the above (NOTA);
By IT's Core Team
April 01, 2019

 

 

 

The option of None of the above (NOTA) was scrapped by Supreme court for which elections?

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Answer:

In August, the apex court had said that NOTA will not be applicable as a ballot option in the Rajya Sabha polls. Later on, following a Supreme Court directive, the Election Commission withdrew the ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) option from ballot papers of the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Council polls.

Why?

  • As per the court, NOTA defeats fairness in indirect elections, destroys democratic values and serves as Satan of defection and corruption.
  • NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
  • NOTA in indirect elections, such as in the Rajya Sabha, would lead to horse-trading, corruption and use of extra constitutional methods to defeat a party candidate.
  • NOTA also makes the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote nugatory and otiose.

What is NOTA?

  • None Of The Above (NOTA) is a ballot option designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system.
  • It was introduced in India following the 2013 Supreme Court directive in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India judgment.
  • Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.
  • However, NOTA in India does not provide for a ‘right to reject’.
  • The candidate with the maximum votes wins the election irrespective of the number of NOTA votes polled.

Significance of NOTA option:

  • NOTA option will force the political parties to select the honest candidates, i.e with no criminal records.
  • NOTA ensures people’s ‘right to freedom of speech and expression’.
  • NOTA will increase the polling percentage.

 

 

 

What are the key features of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017?

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Answer:

The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 — which came into force from May 29 — has made it mandatory to provide “for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness”.

Background:

  • The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 — which came into force from May 29 — has made it mandatory to provide “for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness”.
  • But to date, none of India’s 33 insurers has introduced a product that covers ailments such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, even though such covers are commonplace in many countries.
  • Mental health conditions have always been in the list of exclusions of health insurance policies. The only exceptions to this have been the coverage of development conditions such as autism and Down’s syndrome by the National Health Insurance Scheme, and a few private schemes like Star Health Insurance’s cover for autistic children.

Mental Healthcare Act, 2017:

  • IRDAI’s directive follows Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 enacted by Parliament and came into force from May 2018.
  • The section 21(4) of said Act mandates every insurer to make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on same basis as available for treatment of physical illness.
  • According to provisions of the Act, mental healthcare includes analysis and diagnosis of person’s mental condition and treatment as well as care and rehabilitation of such person for his mental illness or suspected mental illness.

 

 

 

What do you know about the Scrub typhus? How is this disease transmitted?

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Answer:

About Scrub Typhus:

  • Scrub Typhus is an acute illness caused by a bacterium Orintia tsutsugamushi, which is transmitted by the bite of an infected mite larva present in the soil having scrub vegetation.
  • It is not caused by a virus, but by a parasite called Orientia tsutsugamushi.
  • The term scrub is used because of the type of vegetation (terrain between woods and clearings) that harbours the vector; however, the name is not entirely correct because certain endemic areas can also be sandy, semi-arid and mountain deserts.

Spread:

  • Scrub typhus is endemic in an area of Asia-Pacific bounded by Japan, Korea, China, India, and northern Australia.
  • In India, Himachal is an endemic region as it has a large scrub vegetation.

How is the disease transmitted?

  • It is usually transmitted by mites that are found in the shrubs in hilly areas. It can also be transmitted by lice, ticks and fleas.
  • The species which transmits Scrub typhus are found in areas which have heavy scrub vegetation.
  • Orientia tsutsugamushi gets transmitted through the bite of trombiculid mites. These mites feed on rural and forest rodents, including voles, rats and field mice.
  • A person develops infection after the bite of the mite larva. When a person gets bitten by this mite, it leaves a characteristic black colored eschar which helps with the diagnosis.

Signs and Symptoms:

Symptoms of scrub typhus usually begin within 10 days of being bitten. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches and muscle pain
  • A dark, scab-like region at the site of the chigger bite (also known as eschar)
  • Mental changes, ranging from confusion to coma
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Rash

Treatment:

  • Scrub typhus should be treated with the antibiotic doxycycline. Doxycycline can be used in persons of any age.

 

 

 

Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS) is being operated through which bank?

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Answer:

The Scheme is presently being operated through the Export-Import Bank of India, which raises resources from the market to provide concessional finance.

  • Under the CFS, the Govt. of India has been supporting Indian Entities bidding for strategically important infrastructure projects abroad since 2015-16.

Implementation strategy and targets:

  • Under the Scheme, MEA selects the specific projects keeping in view strategic interest of India and sends the same to Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).
  • The strategic importance of a project to deserve financing under this Scheme, is decided, on a case to case basis, by a Committee chaired by Secretary, DEA.
  • Once approved by the Committee, DEA issues a formal letter to EXIM Bank conveying approval for financing of the project under CFS.
  • Government of India (GoI) provides counter guarantee and interest equalization support of 2% to the EXIM Bank.
  • Under the Scheme, EXIM Bank extends credit at a rate not exceeding LIBOR (avg. of six months) + 100 bps. The repayment of the loan is guaranteed by the foreign govt.

Major Impact:

  • Prior to the introduction of CFS, Indian entities were not able to bid for large projects abroad since the cost of financing was very high for them and bidders from other countries such as China, Japan, Europe and US were able to provide credit at superior terms, i.e., lower interest rate and longer tenures which works to the advantage of bidders from those countries.
  • Also, by having projects of strategic interest to India executed by Indian entities, the CFS enables India to generate substantial backward linkage induced jobs, demand for material and machinery in India and also a lot of goodwill for India.

 

 

 

What is Restricted Area Permit (RAP) regime?

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Answer:

  • RAP regime has been notified under Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963.
  • Under it, foreign nationals are not normally allowed to visit protected or restricted area unless Government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify their visit.
  • Every foreigner, except citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in protected or restricted area, is required to obtain special permit from competent authority having power to issue such permits to foreigner, seeking it.
  • Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin are exception and are not allowed to enter such areas.

 

 

 

What is Defense India Start-up Challenge?

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Answer:

Defence India Startup Challenge is an initiative to tap startups for finding safe and futuristic Indian solutions to critical needs of the three Armed Forces.

  • About Defence India Startup Challenge:
  • Defence India Startup Challenge is an initiative to tap startups for finding safe and futuristic Indian solutions to critical needs of the three Armed Forces.
  • It is part of iDEX (Innovation for Defence Excellence) scheme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April meant to build an eco-system of innovation and entrepreneurship in India for the defence sector to make India self-reliant.
  • A list of 11 technologies that the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force need, have been chosen. They included remote air vehicles, laser weapons, secure and safe communication systems and bandwidth, precision targeting systems, sensors, and protected and informed movement of soldiers in battle tanks.
  • Those that come up with prototypes of usable products would be supported with ₹1.5 crore each and friendly procurement procedures from the Ministry under SPARK (Support for Prototype & Research Kickstart in Defence).

 

 

 

Which state has become the first state in India to implement the national policy on biofuels?

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Answer:

Rajasthan has become the first State in the country to implement the national policy on biofuels.

  • The policy lays emphasis on increasing production of oilseeds and establish a Centre for Excellence in Udaipur to promote research in the fields of alternative fuels and energy resources.
  • With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.

Background:

  • In May 2018, the Union Cabinet has approved National Policy on Biofuels – 2018 in order to promote biofuels in the country.

Salient Features of the policy:

Categorization:

  • The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.

Scope of raw materials:

  • The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.

Protection to farmers:

  • Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

Viability gap funding:

  • With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crores in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.

Boost to biodiesel production:

  • The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.

 

 

 

Which three states are involved in Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal?

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Answer:

The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal has been hearing the tussle over sharing of the Mahadayi or Mandovi river between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

About Mahadayi river:

  • The Mahadayi River also known as Mandovi or Mhadei river, is described as the lifeline of the Indian state of Goa.
  • The river has a length of 77 km, 29 km in Karnataka and 52 km in Goa.
  • It originates from a cluster of 30 springs at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in the Belgaum district of Karnataka.
  • Mahadayi (Mandovi) is a water deficit basin and water diversion could impact the environment.

What is the dispute?

  • The three states are locked in a protracted dispute over sharing its water for the last 30 years. Attempts at negotiations among the states were initiated by the central government way back in 1985.
  • In order to divert 7.56 tmcft of water to the Malaprabha river basin, Karnataka government proposed to build canals to link Kalasa and Banduri, the tributaries of Mahadayi.
  • However, objecting the move, Goa government argued that if Karnataka implemented the Kalasa- Banduri project, it would prove disastrous for the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats as the proposed project was deep inside the forest.
  • Karnataka had petitioned the tribunal seeking release of 7.56 tmcft of water for Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
  • The tribunal, which gave its interim order after hearing arguments from both Karnataka and Goa, had rejected the state’s plea citing various grounds including ecological damage that the project may cause.

 What is the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project?

  • The Kalasa-Banduri Nala is a canal project undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to divert water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha.
  • The project aimed to improve drinking water supply to the Districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag.
  • It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi river to divert 7.56 TMC of water to the Malaprabha river, which supplies the drinking water needs of the said 3 districts, i.e., Dharwad, Belagavi and Gadag.
  • The region is part of Karnataka’s arid area, which is second only to Rajasthan in water scarcity.
  • The project has been delayed for over a decade during which the state has seen two of the worst droughts in 40 years.

 

 

What is a Geographical Indication (GI)? What kind of protections this GI confers on?

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Answer:

What is a Geographical Indication?

  • A ‘geographical indication’ (GI) is a place name used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products.

GI registration confers:

  • Legal protection to the products.
  • Prevents unauthorised use of a GI by others.
  • Helps consumers get quality products of desired traits.
  • Promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international markets.

Why is it important?

  • Article 22 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement says unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the agreement for other countries to extend reciprocal protection.
  • Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
  • Products sold with the GI tag get premium pricing also.

GIs and international conventions:

GI registration is essential to get protection in other countries.

  • Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPR
  • They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the agreements concluded at the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
  • India, as member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 that came into force from September 15, 2003.

Some popular registered GIs in India:

  • Some of the popular registered GIs in India are Mysore Silk, Mysore Agarbathi, Kancheepuram Silk, Orissa Ikat, Channapatna Toys & Dolls, and Coimbatore Wet Grinder, Mysore Pak (sweet), Tanjavur Veena, Pusa Basmati 1 (a high-yielding variety of scented Basmati rice) etc.

Key facts:

  • A total of 320 products have been conferred the GI status in India so far.
  • Karnataka comes first with 38 GI products, followed by Maharashtra which has 32 products.
  • Tamil Nadu comes third with 25 GI products.

 

 

Which constitutional amendment provides for National Commission for Backward Classes to be a constitutional body?

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Answer:

  • The 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill provides for a National Commission for Backward Classes as a constitutional body.

Enrich Your Learning:

About National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC):

  • Set up in 1993, the NCBC was entrusted with examining requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and advice central government on the matter.

Highlights of the Bill:

Constitutional status to NCBC:

  • The bill provides for the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) on par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

Powers of the President:

  • It states that the President may specify the socially and educationally backward classes in the various states and union territories. He may do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.

Functions of NCBC:

  • The duties of the NCBC include investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented and probe specific complaints regarding violation of rights.

Report:

  • The NCBC will be required to present annual reports to the President on working of the safeguards for backward classes. These reports will be tabled in Parliament, and in the state legislative assemblies of the concerned states.

Powers of a civil court:

  • Under the Constitution Amendment Bill, the NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints. These powers include: (i) summoning people and examining them on oath, (ii) requiring production of any document or public record, and (iii) receiving evidence.

Background:

  • The Supreme Court, in its final verdict in the Indira Sawhney (Mandal Commission) case, had directed the establishment of the NCBC as a statutory body. Based on this, a law was passed in 1993 to set up the commission.
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