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Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 11th December – 2021

CURRENT AFFAIRS 11-12-2021

Daily Current Affairs – Topics

  • C Rajagopalachari
  • National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021
  • Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2020
  • Revised Coal Stocking Norms
  • World Food Programme (WFP)

1.C Rajagopalachari

#GS1-Modern Indian History

Context

  • Rajagopalachari was recently commemorated on his 143rd birthday.
  • He is recognised for his administrative and intellectual prowess, as well as his contributions to the independence struggle.

In depth information

Current Affairs December 2021

  • On December 10th, 1878, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, also known as Rajaji, was born.
  • In the year 1900, he graduated from the Presidency College in Madras (now Chennai) and began practising law in Salem.
  • He founded the Tamil Scientific Concepts Society in 1916, which converted scientific terms from chemistry, physics, algebra, astronomy, and biology into easy Tamil language.
  • In 1917, he was elected chairperson of the Salem municipality, where he served for two years.
  • He received India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1955.
  • On December 25, 1972, he passed away.

Career in politics:

Pre-independence:

  • He became a legal advisor to the Indian National Congress.
  • In 1917, he defended Indian independence activist P. Varadarajulu Naidu from sedition charges.
  • In 1937, he was elected as the Madras Presidency’s first premier.
  • Rajagopalachari issued the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation and Indemnity Act in 1939 to end untouchability and caste discrimination.
  • Dalits were allowed to enter temples after the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation.
  • He was appointed Governor of West Bengal at the time of Partition.
  • During Lord Mountbatten’s absence as the final British viceroy and independent India’s first Governor General in 1947, Rajagopalachari was briefly appointed to the position.
  • As a result, he was India’s last governor general.

Post-independence:

  • In April 1952, Rajagopalachari became the chief minister of Madras.
  • He actively contributed in revamping the education system and bringing improvements to the society during his time as Madras’ chief minister.
  • In addition, he made Hindi a required subject in Tamil schools.
  • As a result of the protests, Rajagopalachari resigned as the chief minister.
  • He was a social conservative who believed in free markets.
  • He desired to bring the Varna system back into society.
  • He was a firm believer in the importance of religion in society.
  • After Sardar Patel’s death in 1950, Rajagopalachari was appointed Minister of Home Affairs.
  • He left the Indian National Congress in 1959 and created the Swatantra Party.

Role in the Freedom Struggle:

  • Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement:
  • He first met Mahatma Gandhi in Madras (now Chennai) in 1919 and joined Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • In Vellore, he was also imprisoned for two years in 1920.
  • He established his own ashram after his release to preach Gandhi’s concepts of Hindu-Muslim unity and the removal of untouchability.
  • He was also a khadi supporter.

Vaikom Satyagraha:

  • He was also a part of the anti-untouchability Vaikom Satyagraha movement.
  • Rajagopalachari carried out a similar march at Vedaranyam in the Madras Presidency when Gandhi led the Dandi March to overturn the salt ban in 1930.
  • He also rose to the position of editor of Gandhi’s periodical, Young India.
  • Rajagopalachari was an outspoken opponent of Gandhi during the Quit India Movement.
  • He believed that the British will eventually leave the nation, hence launching another Satyagraha was not a wise idea.

Contributions to Literature:

  • He translated the Ramayana into Tamil, which was later published as ChakravarthiThirumagan.
  • In 1958, the work won the Sahitya Akademi Award for Tamil Literature.

2. National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021

#GS2-Government Policies

Context

  • The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was just passed by the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Lok Sabha approved it on December 6.

In depth information

Objectives and need

  • To meet current demands and growing trends in the pharmaceutical and health-care industries, India requires more national-level pharmaceutical education and research facilities.
  • The demand for trained labour is at an all-time high in order for India to become self-sufficient in medicines and transition from manufacturing to innovation.
  • The NIPER amendment will encourage institutes to conduct more research and innovate.
  • The measure will aid in the creation of a pharmaceutical innovation ecosystem throughout the country’s numerous pharmaceutical clusters.
  • This will assist the country in becoming the world’s pharmaceutical capital. Students will have more job opportunities, and research will demand more qualified and multi-skilled personnel.
  • Concerning the bill
  • The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act of 1998 is being amended by this bill.
  • The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Punjab, was established in 1998 and designated as a Nationally Important Institution.
  • An independent institute formed by an Act with the authority to take examinations, confer degrees, certificates, and other academic distinctions or titles is referred to as an Institution of National Importance.
  • The central government provides financing to these important national institutes.

Major Points of Interest

New institutions of national importance:

  • Six more National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research are designated as Institutions of National Importance by the bill. I Ahmedabad, (ii) Hajipur, (iii) Hyderabad, (iv) Kolkata, (v) Guwahati, and (vi) Raebareli are the locations of these institutes.
  • The Council was established in the following manner:
  • The Bill establishes a Council to manage the work of the institutes established by the Bill in order to ensure the advancement of pharmaceutical education and research as well as the maintenance of standards.

The Council’s responsibilities include:

  • Advising on course duration and admission standards in the institutes, formulating policies for recruitment, conditions of service, and fees, examining and approving institute development plans, and examining annual budget estimates in the institutes for recommendations to the central government for funding allocation
  • Board of Governors: The Act established a Board of Governors to oversee and govern the activities of the institute.
  • The Act establishes a Board of 23 members.
  • The Bill reduces the number of members on each institute’s Board of Governors to 12.
  • An distinguished academician or professional will chair the Board.

3. Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2020

#GS2- Governance

Context

  • Both the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2021 and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2020 were passed by the Rajya Sabha.

In depth information

Daily Current Affairs 2021

Objectives and Need of the bill

Stop unethical surrogacy practises:

  • Both bills aim to stop unethical surrogacy practises such as sex selection and surrogate exploitation.

Regulation:

  • Couples would travel to India, buy wombs, and return with children. As a result, regulating both assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy in the country has become more than necessary.

To stop women being exploited, do the following steps:

  • A 26-year-old lady died in 2014 as a result of problems during egg retrieval. The ART stimulates the ovaries so that eggs can be removed. This is a highly technical procedure that requires oversight.
  • Unmarried women sell their wombs to help them get through financial difficulties. This should not be the case.
  • For example, in Andhra Pradesh, a 74-year-old mother gave birth to twins. How will an elderly person raise their children? It is both physiologically and ethically unsound.

To reduce sex selection:

  • there are uncontrolled IVF clinics all across the country, and sex selection was occurring in both directions due to unregulated surrogacy.

To put an end to reproductive medical tourism:

  • India has emerged as a global hub for the fertility sector, with reproductive medical tourism on the rise.

The Bill’s Major Highlights

  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill is about surrogacy, which is an infertility therapy in which a third person, usually a woman, acts as the surrogate mother.
  • Surrogacy is defined in the bill as a process in which a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the aim of handing the child over to the intending couple after the birth.

Surrogacy regulation: The bill restricts commercial surrogacy while allowing altruistic surrogacy.

  • Other than medical expenditures and insurance coverage during the pregnancy, there is no monetary compensation for the surrogate mother in altruistic surrogacy.
  • The bill permits a woman to be a surrogate just once, and it allows any willing woman to do so. It also allows widows and divorcees to have children through surrogacy.
  • Surrogacy is no longer an option for unmarried men and women in India who want to start a family.

Criteria for eligibility: A ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ should be granted by the competent authority to the intended couple. It contains the following items:

  • A certificate from a District Medical Board stating that one or both members of the intended relationship are infertile.
  • The pair had been married for at least five years and were Indian nationals.
  • Only infertile Indian married couples aged 23-50 for women and 26-55 for men will be considered for surrogacy, according to the bill.

Insurance: The government has made it essential to provide insurance for 36 months in situations of surrogacy, so that any post-birth difficulties or physical or mental health issues can be addressed.

  • Penalties have also been imposed in order to prevent exploitation.
  • A first-time offender will face a penalty of Rs 5-10 lakh for unethical actions.
  • A repeat offender faces a fine of Rs 10-20 lakh or a sentence of eight years in prison.
  • Surrogacy is only permissible for Indian married couples.
  • A 2015 announcement prevents foreigners, OCI or PIO cardholders, from commissioning surrogacy in India, however NRIs with Indian citizenship can do so.

National Surrogacy Board: The Surrogacy Bill establishes a National Surrogacy Board that will participate in policymaking and serve as a supervisory body, as well as State Surrogacy Boards that will serve as executive bodies.

  • Surrogacy clinics must be registered with the relevant authority before they can perform surrogacy treatments.
  • Clinics have 60 days from the date of the appropriate authority’s appointment to apply for registration.

Parentage and abortion of a surrogate kid: A child born through a surrogacy operation will be considered the intended couple’s biological child.

  • Abortion of the surrogate child requires the surrogate mother’s written agreement and the approval of the authorised authority.

Bill’s Problems and Criticism

National Current Affairs 2021

Exploitation: The restriction on commercial surrogacy is intended to prevent exploitation, but by removing the commercial component, we are really restricting the rights of woman surrogates.

  • Is she supposed to perform these services for free? By stating that the surrogate must be a close relative, we are further exploiting her.

Domestic violence against women: Even for traditional pregnancies, women are put under a lot of pressure, so there’s no guarantee that they won’t be coerced to become surrogates by their families. The bill fails to account for domestic abuse against women.

  • Their fundamental right has been violated: In its 2016 decision in the matter of Devika Biswas versus Union of India, the Supreme Court stated that the right to reproduce is a fundamental right.
  • This is violated by limiting the Bills to heterosexual couples.
  • Single moms are eligible for ART under ICMR criteria, however this is not included in either bill.

Women’s reproductive autonomy is taken away: Some believe that the rule violates women’s right to choose their own reproductive options and people’s right to motherhood.

a path forward

  • Postpartum depression and maternal benefits: The government should consider and plan for postpartum depression, and maternal benefits should be extended to both moms.
  • Removing the time limit: The government should consider removing the one-year time limit for IVF treatment (which was decreased from the previously proposed five years) before permitting people to use surrogacy.
  • Many women are medically unsuitable to have children and suffer from disorders such as “Tokophobia,” or the fear of delivery, which are little-known and undetected.

4. Revised Coal Stocking Norms

#GS3-Mineral & Energy Resources

Context

  • The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has amended coal stocking Norms at thermal power facilities in order to avoid a repeat of the low coal stock scenario at several plants.
  • The Electricity Act of 2003 established CEA as a non-profit corporation. Its goal is to develop a National Electricity Plan every five years to ensure the best possible use of current power producing resources.

In depth information

Background:

  • India’s thermal power plants were facing a serious coal shortage in October 2021, with coal supplies at an average of four days of fuel across a growing number of thermal units.
  • The low stock situation was exacerbated by a significant increase in demand, a surge in the price of imported coal, and inadequate coal purchase by power plants before to the monsoon.
  • This was one of India’s worst coal crises, causing a slowdown in economic development and the downscaling of several industries.
  • Because of the low coal stock, a number of states were compelled to buy power on the energy exchange, driving up the average market clearing price of power to Rs 16.4 per unit in October, leading the government to alter its coal stocking regulations.

Norms that came before:

  • It required 15-30 days of coal storage, depending on the plant’s distance from the coal source.
  • Previously, power stations near pit head plants were required to store 15 days of coal stock, with the need increasing to 20 days for plants within 200 kilometres of the mines, 25 days for those within 1,000 kilometres, and 30 days for plants further away.

Norms Have Been Revised:

  • It requires power plants to keep a coal stock of 17 days at pit head stations and 26 days at non-pit head stations from February to June each year.
  • Power stations with a coal mine more than 1,500 kilometres away are known as non-pit head plants.
  • The daily coal requirement at the power plant will be computed using an 85 percent Plant Load Factor on any given day (PLF).
  • Previously, coal stock amounts were calculated based on the plant’s average consumption pattern over the previous seven days, with a minimum of 55 percent PLF.
  • The PLF ratio is the difference between the actual energy generated by the plant and the highest possible energy that can be created with the plant operating at its rated power for a whole year.
  • According to the new methodology, power plants with lower utilisation rates will need to stock more coal than before.
  • Power plants will be required to strictly adhere to these criteria, failing which fines will be imposed – a component not previously included in CEA regulations.

Significance:

  • It will avoid a situation like the one that occurred recently in the country, when some of the country’s 135 coal-fired power plants were discovered to have essential coal stock levels sufficient to fulfil only three to four days of supply following the monsoons.
  • Relaxed coal stocking regulations will also improve coal distribution among generating facilities.
  • This will prevent power shortages and provide continuous power delivery regardless of the country’s demand situation.
  • It will also lower the fuel requirement for each power plant and enable better distribution amongst all stations.

 

5.World Food Programme (WFP)

#GS2- International Organisations

Context

  • Following the robbery of supplies, the World Food Programme (WFP) has temporarily halted food distribution in Ethiopia’s Kombolcha and Dessie cities.
  • According to the World Food Programme’s most recent research, Ethiopia will experience record-high levels of acute food insecurity until at least the middle of 2022.

In depth information

Concerning the World Food Programme (WFP)

  • The United Nations (UN) founded it in 1961 to aid in the alleviation of world hunger. Its headquarters are in the Italian city of Rome.
  • It is the world’s leading humanitarian organisation, saving and changing lives by providing emergency food aid and collaborating with communities to enhance nutrition and resilience.
  • By 2030, the international community has pledged to eliminate hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition.
  • It received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020 for its efforts to battle hunger, for improving peace conditions in conflict-affected areas, and for acting as a driving force in attempts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

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