Daily Current Affairs

21ST JANUARY,2021 : MOST POWERFUL DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS CONCEPTS

UPSC PRELIMS+MAINS

Index

  1. A) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations
  2. Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) (TH)
  3. International Labour Organization (ILO) (TH)
  4. Innovation Index (PIB)
  5. B) International Relations
  6. Palestinians face discrimination by Jewish Authorities (TH)
  7. C) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  8. Privilege Motion (TH)
  9. D) Economic Developments: India and World
  10. SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate) (TH)
  11. E) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
  12. Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 (TH)
  13. F) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  14. Ballistic Missile (TH)

 A) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations

  1. Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) (TH)

  • Context: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested aide of gangster Dawood Ibrahim, in connection with a drugs case.
  • Analysis

  • The government’s policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances flows from constitutional provisions contained in Article 47 of the Indian Constitution. It is also guided by the international conventions on the subject.
  • India is a signatory to:
  • Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol
  • Conventions on Psychotropic Substances, 1971
  • United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
  • The National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances is based on the Directive Principles, contained in Article 47 of the Indian Constitution, which direct the State to endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drugs injurious to health.
  • Prohibition on the consumption of intoxicating drugs, except for medicinal purposes comes from these 3 Central Legislations:
  • Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940,
  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and
  • The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.
  • The responsibility of drug abuse control, which is a central function, is carried out through a number of Ministries, Departments and Organisations.
  • These include the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue which has the nodal co-ordination role as administrator of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.

Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)

  • The Narcotics Control Bureau was set up as apex drug law enforcement agency with view to coordinate actions of various central/state agencies in the matters related with drug law in the country.
  • It is a statutory body under The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
  • This act made an express provision for constituting a Central Authority for the purpose of exercising the powers and functions of the Central Government under the Act.
  • The Bureau is subject to the supervision and control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  • India is signatory to various international drug related UN conventions and the responsibility of implementation of the provision of these international conventions also lies with NCB.
  • It exercises the powers and functions of the Central Government for taking measures with respect to:
  • Co-ordination of actions by various offices, State Governments and other authorities under the N.D.P.S. Act, Customs Act, Drugs and Cosmetics Act and any other law for the time being in force in connection with the enforcement provisions of the NDPS Act, 1985.
  • Implementation of the obligation in respect of counter measures against illicit traffic under the various international conventions and protocols that are in force at present or which may be ratified or acceded to by India in future.
  • Assistance to concerned authorities in foreign countries and concerned international organisations to facilitate coordination and universal action for prevention and suppression of illicit traffic in these drugs and substances.
  • Coordination of actions taken by the other concerned Ministries, Departments and Organizations in respect of matters relating to drug abuse.
  1. International Labour Organization (ILO) (TH)

  • Context: A joint platform of 10 central trade unions in India said that it would write to the International Labour Organisation on the four labour codes passed by the Centre.
  • The unions said that the Centre did not hold tripartite consultations.

Analysis

International Labour Organization (ILO)

  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) dedicated to improving labour conditions and living standards throughout the world.
  • Established in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League of Nations, the ILO became the first affiliated specialized agency of the United Nations in 1946.
  • In recognition of its activities, the ILO was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1969.
  • The functions of the ILO include the development and promotion of standards for national legislation to protect and improve working conditions and standards of living.
  • Among intergovernmental organizations, the ILO is unique in that its approximately 187 member states are represented not only by delegates of their governments but also by delegates of those states’ employers and workers, especially trade unions.
  • The ILO also helps to protect the rights of international migrants and organized labour.
  • The International Labour Office is in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Among the ILO’s many publications are the International Labour Review and the Year Book of Labour Statistics.
  • There are eight Core Conventions of the ILO (also called fundamental/human rights conventions) which are as follows.
  • Forced Labour Convention (No. 29)
  • Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (No.105)
  • Equal Remuneration Convention (No.100)
  • Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention (No.111)
  • Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organised Convention (No.87)
  • Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (No.98)
  • Minimum Age Convention (No.138)
  • Worst forms of Child Labour Convention (No.182)
  1. Innovation Index (PIB)

  • Context: NITI Aayog released the second edition of the India Innovation Index-2020.
  • The index demonstrates the government’s continued commitment towards transforming the country into an innovation-driven economy.
  • It aims to rank States and UTs based on their scores, recognise opportunities and challenges, and assist in tailoring government policies to foster innovation.
  • In the India Innovation Index-2020, the States and Union Territories have been divided into 17 Major States, 10 North-East and Hill States and nine Union Territories and Small States for effectively comparing their performance.
  • In the 2020 ranking, Karnataka retained its first position in the Major States category followed by Maharashtra at 2nd spot while Tamil Nadu slid to 3rd position.
  • In the North East and Hill States category, Himachal Pradesh stands at first position followed by Uttarakhand and Manipur. Delhi stands at the first position while Chandigarh retained its second spot in the Union Territories and small States category.

Analysis

  • The First Indian Innovation Index was released in October 2019.
  • NITI Aayog aim is to sync Indian Innovation Index with the Global Innovation Index which has 80 parameters compared to 36 in India.
  • The India Innovation Index 2020 has seen new indicators being added, major being the expenditure by states on R&D and new business registration in the state.
  • Through the index, prepared jointly by the Aayog and the Institute of Competitiveness, the government ranks the states and union territories based on their relative performance of supporting innovation, and empowers them to improve their innovation policies by highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.

Benefits of Such an Index

  • Innovation can help India boost its manufacturing competitiveness and exports
  • Innovation is widely recognized as a central driver of economic growth and development.
  • It increases the competitive federalism among the States and Union Territories.

About Global Innovation Index

  • The aim of the Global Innovation Index is to provide insightful data on innovation and, in turn, to assist economies in evaluating their innovation performance and making informed innovation policy considerations.
  • GII is now considered a yardstick for measuring innovation by the UN General Assembly, as noted in its resolution for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its 74th session in 2019.
  • Economies invest resources to analyze their GII results in cross-ministerial task forces and use the GII to design appropriate innovation and intellectual property (IP) policies.
  • The GII is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.
  • Global Innovation Index 2020 report is titled ‘Who Will Finance Innovation?’

 B) International Relations

4.Palestinians face discrimination by Jewish Authorities (TH)

  • Context: An Israeli non-governmental organization has accused the Jewish state of “apartheid” in its treatment of Palestinians.

Analysis

Israel Palestine Conflict

  • Israel occupied the West Bank, including Arab east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War of 1967. Today it is home to at least five million Palestinians defined by the United Nations as living under Israeli occupation.
  • Arab Israelis — Palestinians who stayed on their land following the Jewish state’s creation in 1948 and their descendants — make up about 20% of Israel’s roughly nine million people. By law they have rights equal to those of Jewish citizens, but they say that in practice they suffer discrimination in employment, housing, policing and other essentials.
  • In another war in 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as most of the Syrian Golan Heights, and Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai peninsula.
  • Golan Heights, also called Al-Jawlān, is a hilly area overlooking the upper Jordan River valley on the west.
  • The area was part of extreme south-western Syria until 1967, when it came under Israeli military occupation, and in 1981 Israel unilaterally annexed the part of the Golan it held.
  • Most Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in neighbouring Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
  • Neither they nor their descendants have been allowed by Israel to return to their homes – Israel says this would overwhelm the country and threaten its existence as a Jewish state.
  • Israel still occupies the West Bank, and although it pulled out of Gaza the UN still regards that piece of land as part of occupied territory.
  • Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Only the US recognises Israel’s claim to the whole of the city.
  • In the past 50 years Israel has built settlements in these areas, where more than 600,000 Jews now live.
  • Palestinians say these are illegal under international law and are obstacles to peace, but Israel denies this.
  • Note: Boundary of Israel touches two seas namely Mediterranean Sea in the North and Red Sea in the South.

C) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

5.Privilege Motion (TH)

  • Context: The Privileges and Ethics Committee of the Assembly, has given a clean chit to Kerala Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac in connection with the breach of privilege notice moved against him.

Analysis

Committee on Ethics

  • Parliament and each of the state legislature consists of Committee on Ethics.

Functions

  • The Committee shall have the following functions, namely:
  • to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of members;
  • to prepare a Code of Conduct for members and to suggest amendments or additions to the Code from time to time in the form of reports to the Council;
  • to examine cases concerning the alleged breach of the Code of Conduct by members as also cases concerning allegations of any other ethical misconduct of members; and
  • to tender advice to members from time to time on questions involving ethical standards either suo motu or on receiving specific requests.

Powers of Committee on Ethics

  • Committee is empowered to recommend the imposition of sanctions, where it has been found
  • that a member has indulged in unethical behaviour or
  • that there is other misconduct or
  • the member has contravened the Code/Rules,
  • The Committee may recommend the imposition of one or more of the following sanctions:
  • censure
  • reprimand
  • suspension from the House for a specific period
  • any other sanction as determined by the Committee to be appropriate.

Parliamentary privileges and privileges of State Legislature

  • Parliamentary privileges (Article 105 of the Constitution)/privileges of State Legislature (Article 194 of the Constitution) are special rights, immunities and exemptions enjoyed by the two Houses of Parliament/State Legislatures, their committees and their members.
  • They are necessary:
  • To secure the independence and effectiveness of their actions;
  • To maintain their authority, dignity and honour; and
  • To protect their members from any obstruction in the discharge of their parliamentary responsibilities.
  • The Constitution has also extended the parliamentary privileges/privileges of State Legislature to those persons who are entitled to speak and take part in the proceedings of a House of Parliament/State Legislature or any of their committees.
  • These include the Attorney General of India/Advocate General of the State and Union/State Ministers.
  • It must be noted that the parliamentary privileges do not extend to the President/Governor who are also integral part of the Parliament/State Legislature.

Classification

  • Parliamentary privileges/privileges of State Legislature can be classified into two broad categories:
  • Those that are enjoyed by each House of Parliament//State Legislature collectively; and
  • Those that are enjoyed by the members individually.

Collective Privileges

  • The privileges belonging to each House of the Parliament/State Legislature collectively are:
  • It has the right to publish its reports, debates and proceedings and also the right to prohibit others from publishing the same.
  • The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 restored the freedom of the press to publish true reports of parliamentary proceedings/proceedings of the State Legislature without prior permission of the House.
  • But this is not applicable in the case of a secret sitting of the House.
  • It can exclude strangers from its own procedure and hold secret sittings to discuss some important matters.
  • It can make rules to regulate its own procedure and the conduct its business and to adjudicate upon matters.
  • It can punish members as well as outsiders for breach of its privileges or its contempt by reprimand, admonition or imprisonment (also suspension or expulsion, in case of members).
  • It has the right to receive immediate information of the arrest, detention, conviction, imprisonment and release of a member.
  • It can institute inquiries and order the attendance of witnesses and send for relevant papers and records.
  • The courts are prohibited to inquire into the proceedings of a House or its committees.
  • No person (either a member or outsider) can be arrested, and no legal process (civil or criminal) can be served within the precincts of the House without the permission of the presiding officer.

Individual Privileges

  • The privileges belonging to the member individually are:
  • They cannot be arrested during the session of Parliament/State Legislature and 40 days before the beginning and 40 days after the end of a session.
  • This privilege is available only in civil cases and not in criminal cases or preventive detention cases.
  • They have freedom of speech in Parliament/State Legislature.
  • No member is liable to any proceedings in any court for anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament/State Legislature or its committees.
  • This freedom is subject to the provisions of the Constitution and to the rules and standing orders regulating the procedure of Parliament/State Legislature.
  • They are exempted from jury service.
  • They can refuse to give evidence and appear as a witness in a case pending in a court when Parliament/State Legislature is in session.

Breach of Privilege and Contempt of the House

  • Normally, a breach of privilege may amount to contempt of the House. Likewise, contempt of the House may include may include a breach of privilege also.
  • Contempt of the House, however, has wider implications. There may be a contempt of the House without specifically committing a breach of privilege. Similarly, actions which are not breaches of any specific privilege but are offences against the dignity and authority of the House amounts to contempt of the House.

Sources of Privileges

  • Originally, the Constitution (Article 105) expressedly mentioned two privileges, that is, freedom of speech in Parliament/State Legislature and right of publication of its proceedings.
  • With regard to other privileges, it provided that they were to be the same as those of the British House of Commons, its committees and its members on the date of its commencement (26th January 1950), until defined by Parliament.
  • It should be noted that the Parliament, till now, has not made any special law to exhaustively codify all the privileges.
  • They are based on five sources:
  • Constitutional provisions;
  • Various laws made by Parliament;
  • Rules of both the Houses;
  • Parliamentary conventions; and
  • Judicial interpretations.

Who can move a privilege motion? How?

  • A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege.

What are the rules governing privilege?

  • A member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a committee thereof.
  • The rules however mandate that any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House.
  • Notices have to be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson.

What is the role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair?

  • The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion.
  • The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament.
  • If the Speaker/Chair gives consent, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.

What percentage of privilege notices are rejected?

  • A large number of notices are rejected, with penal action recommended in only a few.

What is the privileges committee?

  • In the Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates a committee of privileges consisting of 15 members as per respective party strengths.
  • In the Rajya Sabha, the deputy chairperson heads the committee of privileges, that consists of 10 members.

What is the punishment in case of breach of privilege or contempt of the House?

  • The house can ensure attendance of the offending person.
  • The person can be given a warning and let go or be sent to prison as the case may be.

D) Economic Developments: India and World

6.SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate) (TH)

  • Context: State Bank of India (SBI) has executed two inter-bank short term money market deals with pricing linked to SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate).
  • SOFR is a replacement for USD LIBOR that may be phased out end-2021.

Analysis

Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR)

  • It is a benchmark interest rate for dollar-denominated derivatives and loans that is replacing the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR).
  • It is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by Treasury securities.
  • The secured overnight financing rate, or SOFR, is an influential interest rate that banks use to price U.S. dollar-denominated derivatives and loans.
  • The daily secured overnight financing rate (SOFR) is based on transactions in the Treasury repurchase market, where investors offer banks overnight loans backed by their bond assets.
  • Benchmark rates such as the SOFR are essential in the trading of derivatives—particularly interest-rate swaps, which corporations and other parties use to manage interest-rate risk and to speculate on changes in borrowing costs.

History of the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR)  

  • Since its inception in the mid-1980s, the LIBOR has been the benchmark interest rate to which investors and banks peg their credit agreements. Comprising of five currencies and seven maturities, the LIBOR is determined by calculating the average interest rate at which major global banks borrow from one another.
  • The five currencies are the U.S. dollar (USD), euro (EUR), British pound (GBP), Japanese yen (JPY), and the Swiss franc (CHF), and the most commonly quoted LIBOR is the three-month U.S. dollar rate, usually referred to as the current LIBOR rate.
  • Following the financial crisis of 2008, regulators grew wary of overreliance on that particular benchmark.
  • LIBOR is based largely on estimates from global banks who are surveyed and not necessarily on actual transactions.
  • In addition, banking regulations after the financial crisis meant that there was less interbank borrowing happening, prompting some officials to express concern that the limited volume of trading activity made the LIBOR even less reliable.
  • Eventually, the British regulator that compiles LIBOR rates said it will no longer require banks to submit interbank lending information after 2021.
  • This update sent developed countries around the world scrambling to find an alternative reference rate that could eventually replace it.
  • In 2017, the Federal Reserve (Fed) responded by assembling the Alternative Reference Rate Committee, comprising several large banks, to select an alternative reference rate for the United States. The committee chose the secured overnight financing rate (SOFR), an overnight rate, as the new benchmark for dollar-denominated contracts.
  • The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) vs. LIBOR
  • Unlike the LIBOR, there’s extensive trading in the Treasury repo market—roughly 1,500 times that of interbank loans as of 2018—theoretically making it a more accurate indicator of borrowing costs.
  • Moreover, the secured overnight financing rate (SOFR) is based on data from observable transactions rather than on estimated borrowing rates, as is sometimes the case with LIBOR.
  • Transitioning to the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR)
  • For now, the LIBOR and the secured overnight financing rate (SOFR) will coexist.
  • However, it’s expected that the latter will replace LIBOR over the next few years as the dominant benchmark for dollar-denominated derivatives and credit products.
  • On November 30, 2020, the Federal Reserve announced that LIBOR will be phased out and eventually replaced by June 2023. In the same announcement, banks were instructed to stop writing contracts using LIBOR by the end of 2021 and all contracts using LIBOR should wrap up by June 30, 2023.

London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR)

  • LIBOR, which stands for London Interbank Offered Rate, serves as a globally accepted key benchmark interest rate that indicates borrowing costs between major global banks for short-term loans.
  • The rate is calculated and published each day by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).
  • It is based on five currencies including the US dollar, the euro, the British pound, the Japanese yen, and the Swiss franc, and serves seven different maturities—overnight/spot next, one week, and one, two, three, six, and 12 months.
  • LIBOR is also the basis for consumer loans in countries around the world, so it impacts consumers just as much as it does financial institutions.

E) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

7.Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 (TH)

  • Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed biomedical waste management facilities in the country to obtain authorization from State pollution control boards while asking the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to ensure strict compliance of biomedical waste management rules.
  • All biomedical waste needs to be disposed of in colour coded categories — yellow, red, white and blue — as per the guidelines stipulated in the Biomedical Waste Management Rules 2016 and by the Central Pollution Control Board.

Analysis

Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • These rules are one of the six categories of waste management rules brought out by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), as it has earlier notified plastic, e-waste, solid-waste, hazardous and construction and demolition waste management rules.
  • Biomedical waste comprises human & animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus like needles, syringes and other materials used in health care facilities in the process of treatment and research.
  • However, it shall not apply to:
  • radioactive wastes,
  • wastes covered under the MSW Rules, 2000,
  • lead acid batteries,
  • hazardous wastes,
  • e-waste,
  • hazardous microorganisms
  • Total bio-medical waste generation in the country is 484 TPD (tonnes per day), out of which 447 TPD is treated.
  • Scientific disposal of Biomedical Waste through segregation, collection and treatment in an environmentally sound manner minimises the adverse impact on health workers and on the environment.

Salient features of BMW Management Rules, 2016, as amended in 2018:

  • The ambit of the rules has been expanded to include vaccination camps, blood donation camps, surgical camps or any other healthcare activity undertaken outside the healthcare facility;
  • Establish a Bar-Code System for bags or containers containing bio-medical waste for disposal;
  • Bio-medical waste has been classified in to 4 categories instead 10 to improve the segregation of waste at source;
  • Chlorinated plastic bags and gloves will not be used beyond March 27, 2019; (Will eliminate the emission of dioxin and furans from burning of such wastes)
  • Inclusion of emissions limits for Dioxin and furans;
  • State Government to provide land for setting up common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility;
  • No occupier shall establish on-site treatment and disposal facility, if a service of `common bio-medical waste treatment facility is available at a distance of seventy-five kilometre.

Monitoring and Implementation of BMW Management Rules, 2016

  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change shall review the implementation of the rules in the country once in a year through the State Health Secretaries, CPCB and SPCBs.

F) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

8.Ballistic Missile (TH)

  • Context: Pakistan has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile- Shaheen-III, which can strike targets up to 2,750 km.
  • The launch of Shaheen-III missile was “aimed at revalidating various design and technical parameters of weapon system”, said a statement issued by the media wing of the Pakistani Army.

Analysis

  • Ballistic missiles are powered initially by a rocket or series of rockets in stages (first stage), but then follow an unpowered (without fuel) curved trajectory mostly above the atmosphere (second stage) before descending to reach its intended target (third stage). Thus, Ballistic missiles have three stages of flight.
  • A ballistic missile is only guided during the initial short boost phase, but minor corrections can be made by means of control motors.
  • Ballistic missiles can carry either nuclear or conventional warheads.
  • Ballistic missiles with range less than 1,000 kilometers are also known as “tactical” ballistic missiles.
  • Ballistic missiles with range between 1,000 and 3,000 kilometers are also known as “theater” ballistic missiles.
  • Ballistic missiles whose range is more than 5,500 kilometers (approximately 3,410 miles) are also known as intercontinental or strategic ballistic missiles (ICBMs)
  • Ballistic missiles first came into use during World War II, when the Germans used them to attack London.
  • They can be launched from ground, air, sea or submarine platforms.

How Cruise missiles, often in news, different from Ballistic Missiles?

  • Cruise missiles are unmanned vehicles that are propelled by jet engines, much like an airplane.
  • They can be launched from ground, air, sea or submarine platforms.
  • Cruise missiles remain within the atmosphere for the duration of their flight and can fly as low as a few meters off the ground.
  • Flying low to the surface of the earth expends more fuel but makes a cruise missile very difficult to detect.
  • Cruise missiles are self-guided and use multiple methods to accurately deliver their payload, including terrain mapping, global positioning systems (GPS) and inertial guidance.

Sriharikota v/s Wheeler Island

  • Sriharikota Island is located in Pulicat lake (Andhra Pradesh). It houses India’s satellite launch centre, Satish Dhawan Space Centre
  • Abdul Kalam Island is located in Bay of Bengal, off the coast of Odisha. Formerly known as Wheeler Island, missile test facility for the most of Indian missiles including long range ones is available here.
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