Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 18th August

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 18th August-2021

Daily Current Affairs 18th August – Topics

  • Two- Child Policy of Uttar Pradesh
  • The Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021
  • Legislation on Cryptocurrencies
  • National Commission for Minorities
  • National Gene Bank
  • Tomato Leaf curl New Delhi Virus

 

1.Two- Child Policy of Uttar Pradesh

#GS2 #Population and associated issues #Government Policies and interventions

Context: Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has submitted a report and draft Bill of a new population control law (The Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021) after reviewing over 8,000 suggestions from the public, proposing two-child policy to the State government.

  • Uttar Pradesh (UP) unveiled its New Population Policy 2021-30, on the occasion of World Population Day which is celebrated on July 11th.

Key proposals adopted by the commission:

Objectives:

  • The draft Bill aims to reduce the gross fertility rate from 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026 and 1.7 by 2030 by disincentivising more than 02 children per couple, and by offering various benefits to those who choose not to have more than 02 children.
  • Improve modern contraceptive prevalence rate from 31.7% to 45% by 2026 and 52% by 2030.
  • Improve male contraceptives use from 10.8% to 15.1% by 2026 and 16.4% by 2030.
  • Reduce maternal mortality rate from 197 to 150 to 98, and infant mortality rate from 43 to 32 to 22, and under Five infant mortality rate from 47 to 35 to 25.

Key Provisions:

  • The policy shall come into force on a date notified by the government, which shall be a year from the date of publication of the Act in the Gazette.
  • The draft Bill recommends to deny government aids to those with more than 02 children, and
    • Not allowing them to contest in local body polls,
    • applying for government jobs, or
    • getting any kind of government subsidy.
  • A person would be considered in breach of the 02-child norm if they have more than two living children, one of whom is born on or after the appointed date.
    • This also means that an individual who already has 02 children can have a 03rd child with no consequences, as long as they have it within a year of notification of the Act.
  • A person would be considered in compliance with the policy if they or their spouse undergo voluntary sterilisation, or if the wife has attained the age of 45 years and their youngest child is 10 years old.
  • According to the draft Bill, a person who complies with the 02-child policy will obtain subsidy benefits on the buying a plot or house site from the development authority; a soft loan to build or buy a house on nominal rates of interest; reimbursements on water and electricity charges, house tax, and sewerage charges; and free healthcare and insurance cover for spouse.
  • In case the person follows the 01-child policy, additional benefits will be available, such as
    • Free healthcare facility and insurance cover to the single child till the age of 21 years;
    • Preference to the single child in admission to all recognised educational institutions;
    • Free education up to graduation in prescribed manner; scholarship for higher studies in case of girl child;
    • Preference to single child in state government jobs in their respective categories.
  • Public servants who adopt the 02-child norm will be given enticements such as
    • 02 additional increments during the period of service;
    • A 3 % increase in the employer’s contribution fund under the National Pension Scheme; and
    • Free healthcare facility and insurance cover to spouse.
  • The draft Bill mentions some exceptions:
    • If a person with o1 child has 02 or more children through a single subsequent pregnancy after the appointed date, the children of the following pregnancy shall be counted as only 01 child;
    • A child who suffers from disability from birth will not be taken into account.

Applicability:

  • The provisions of this law shall apply to a married couple where the boy is not less than 21 years of age and the girl is not less than 18.
  • The policy will be voluntary – it will not be imposed upon anyone.

Issues and concerns associated with the Bill:

  • Experts have cautioned against any population policy that puts women’s health at risk.
  • Given that the burden of contraception and family planning excessively falls on women, it is likely that female sterilisation will rise further.
  • Stringent population control measures can possibly lead to an surge in these practices and unsafe abortions given the strong son-preference in India, as has been observed in a few states in the past.

Population Trends & Issues:

  • World’s population stands at about 7.7 billion, and it’s expected to grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 10.9 billion in 2100.
  • This population growth has been driven largely by increasing numbers of people surviving to reproductive age, and has been accompanied by major changes in fertility rates, increasing urbanization and accelerating migration.
  • They affect economic development, employment, income distribution, poverty and social protection.
  • They also affect efforts to ensure universal access to health care, education, housing, sanitation, water, food and energy.

India’s Population Related Facts:

  • India has just 2% of the world’s landmass and 16% of the global population.
  • Mismatch in birth and death rate resulted in faster growth of population in the past few decades.
  • However, India’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is declining. It is now 2.2 per woman, nearing the replacement rate of 2.1, according to the latest government data.
  • TFR indicates the average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span of 15-49 years.

Way Forward

  • Family planning is a powerful tool for ensuring a stable population rise. It is the responsibility of the government at all levels – the Union, State, and Local, as well as the citizens, civil society and businesses, to promote awareness and advocate the sexual and reproductive rights of women.
  • In order to harness the population growth for the maximum benefit of society and the country, well-researched planning and implementation is needed.

 

2.The Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021

#GS2 # Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and Institutions

# Provisions for Checks & Balances in Indian Constitution

  • Context: Parliament recently passed the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021.
    • The bill seeks to dissolve certain existing appellate bodies and transfer their functions (such as adjudication of appeals) to other existing judicial bodies.
    • The Bill replaces a similar Ordinance promulgated in April 2021

Key Provisions of Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Act, 2021:

  • Amendments to the Finance Act, 2017: The Finance Act, 2017 amalgamated tribunals based on domain.
  • It also empowered the union government to notify rules on:
    • Composition of search-cum-selection committees,
    • Qualifications of tribunal members, and
    • Their terms and conditions of service (such as their removal and salaries).
  • Search-cum-selection committees: The Chairperson and Members of the Tribunals will be appointed by the Union government on the recommendation of a Search-cum-Selection Committee.
    • The Committee will consist of:
      • The Chief Justice of India, or a Supreme Court Judge nominated by him, as the Chairperson (with casting vote),
      • Two Secretaries nominated by the central government,
      • The sitting or outgoing Chairperson, or a retired Supreme Court Judge, or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court, and
      • The Secretary of the Ministry under which the Tribunal is constituted (with no voting right).
    • State administrative tribunals will have separate search-cum-selection committees.
    • These Committees will consist of:
      • The Chief Justice of the High Court of the concerned state, as the Chairman (with a casting vote)
      • The Chief Secretary of the state government and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission of the concerned state,
      • The sitting or outgoing Chairperson, or a retired High Court Judge, and
      • The Secretary or Principal Secretary of the state’s general administrative department (with no voting right).
    • The union government must decide on the recommendations of selection committees preferably within three months from date of the recommendation.
    • Eligibility and term of office: The Bill provides for a 04-year term of office (subject to the upper age limit of 70 years for the Chairperson, and 67 years for members).
    • Further, it specifies a minimum age requirement of 50 years for appointment of a chairperson or a member.

Abolition of Appellate Tribunals:

  • The Bill seeks to dissolve certain existing appellate bodies and transfer their functions to other existing judicial bodies.
  • Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, Airports Appellate Tribunal, Authority for Advanced Rulings, Intellectual Property Appellate Board and the Plant Varieties Protection Appellate Tribunal are the five tribunals which are sought to be abolished by the Bill and their functions are to be transferred to the existing judicial bodies.

Supreme Court ruling:

  • The Supreme Court in the case of Madras Bar Association v. Union of India had struck down the provisions requiring a minimum age for appointment as chairperson or members as 50 years and prescribing the tenure of 04 years.
  • It held that such provisions are violative of the principles of separation of powers, independence of judiciary, rule of law and Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

Issues:

  • The term of office of 04 years is lesser than the minimum of 05 years directed by the Supreme Court in various judgements.
  • The Supreme Court has also noted that the minimum age limit requirement of 50 years for appointment of members may discourage young talent.
    • It had previously directed that an advocate with 10 years of practice be made qualified to be appointed as a judicial member.
  • Abolishing Tribunals may increase the clearance time for new cases, as High Courts already have a large number of cases pending verdicts.

 

3.Legislation on Cryptocurrencies:

#Gs2 #Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights

Context: Recently, Finance Minister of India informed that the proposed legislation on cryptocurrencies has been tabled before the Cabinet and awaiting its approval.

Current status of Cryptocurrencies in India:

  • India has been noncommittal on cryptocurrencies for long time, progressively making up its mind to whether accept or reject digital currencies.
  • An inter-ministerial panel on cryptocurrency chaired by Economic affairs secretary, has suggested that all private cryptocurrencies, except any virtual currencies issued by state, will be prohibited in India.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also raised apprehensions on the cryptocurrencies traded in the market and conveyed them to the union government.
  • Supreme Court in March 2020, had allowed banks and financial institutions to restore services related to cryptocurrencies by setting aside the RBI’s 2018 circular that had prohibited them (Based on the doctrine of “proportionality”).
    • The doctrine essentially signifies that the punishment should not be disproportionate to the offence committed or the means that are used by administration to obtain a particular objective or result should not me more restrictive than that are required to achieve it.

Overview of the Bill:

  • It bans all private cryptocurrencies and facilitates an official digital currency to be issued by the central bank.
  • The objective of the law is:
    • to make a facilitative framework for an official digital currency issued by the RBI.
    • to “ban all private cryptocurrencies in India”.

About Cryptocurrencies:

  • Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of their units and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.
  • Cryptocurrencies are used in two ways:
    • first as an asset class that serves as a storehouse of value.
    • It can also be used as a payment system, serving as an alternative to fiat currency.

Why the govt wants to ban cryptocurrencies?

  • Cryptocurrencies pose risks to consumers. They do not have any sovereign guarantee and hence are not legal tender.
  • They are highly volatile as they are speculative in nature.
  • High risk of access loss if the user lose their private key. It is irretrievable.
  • In some cases, these private keys are stored by technical service providers (cryptocurrency exchanges or wallets), which are prone to malware or hacking.
  • Money laundering and terrorism financing as they can be untraceable.

Way Forward:

  • The Indian government should not prohibit the use of cryptocurrency indefinitely.
  • Any complete ban on cryptocurrency will just demonstrate a lack of awareness of the technologically powerful cryptocurrency’s positive effect on India’s economy.
  • A ban could eliminate investments in Indian blockchain start-ups, which would essentially mean mass unemployment and loss of revenue for the government.
  • Many are concerned about cryptocurrencies because there is no centralized entity to monitor their value or oversee their exchange.
  • The concern rises from the failure to control the cryptocurrency sector, monitor its price, or track its transfer.
  • Administration can do all of the above with fiat currency.

4.National Commission for Minorities

#GS2 # Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population and the Performance of these Schemes;

#Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Context: Recently, the Delhi High Court advised the Union government to nominate persons to all the vacant positions in the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) by 30th September, 2021.

  • The post of chairperson is among the 49 posts that are lying vacant in the commission.
  • NCM has a sanctioned strength of 86.

Background:

  • A 1978 resolution by Union Home ministry envisaged the Minorities Commission for the first time.
  • It was later shifter to newly formed Ministry of Welfare in 1984.
  • The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • Initially 05 religious’ communities, namely, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities by the Union Government.
  • Further with notification dated 27th January 2014, Jains were also notified as another minority community.
  • Union Government constituted National Commission for Minorities, New Delhi and State Government constituted State Minorities Commissions in their respective State Capitals.
  • National and state commissions under the 1992 act are set-up to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities as provided in the Constitution of India and laws enacted by the Parliament and the State Legislatures.

Composition of National Commission for Minorities:

  • It consists of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and 05 members and all of them shall be from amongst the minority communities.
  • Total of 7 persons to be nominated by the union Government should be from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity.
  • Each Member holds office for a period of 03 years from the date of assumption of office.

Functions:

  • It assesses the progress of the development of minorities under both Union and state governments.
  • It monitors the working of the constitutional laws endorsed for the welfare of minorities.
  • It issues guidelines for the implementation of protective safeguards for the minorities.
  • It is the authorized body to look into grievances regarding deprivation of the rights and safeguards of the minority communities.
  • It conducts studies, research and analysis concerning issues related to the socio-economic and educational development of minorities.
  • It presents periodic or special reports regarding minorities and their issues to the Union
  • It governs matters which the Union government refers to.
  • It also Investigates matters of communal conflict and riots.
    • For example, the 2011 Bharatpur communal riots, as well as the 2012 Bodo-Muslim clashes in Assam, were investigated by the commission and their findings were submitted to the government.

Constitutional Provisions for Minorities:

  • The safeguards for the protection of interests of minorities are mandated in the following provisions of Constitution of India:

(i) Article 15 (1) & (2) – Prohibition of discrimination against citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth;

(ii) Article 16(1)&(2) – Citizens’ right to ‘equality of opportunity’ in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State, and prohibition in this regard of any discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth;

(iii) Article 25(1) – People’s freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion – subject to public order, morality and other Fundamental Rights;

(iv) Article 26 – Right of every religious denomination or any section thereof – subject to public order, morality and health – to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, manage its own affairs in matters of religion, and own and acquire movable and immovable property and administer it in accordance with law

(v) Article 28 – People’s freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions wholly maintained, recognized, or aided by the State

(vi) Article 29(2) – Non-denial of admission to any citizen to any educational institution maintained or aided by the State, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them;

(vii) Article 30(1) – Right of all religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice;

(viii) Article 30(1A) – State laws providing for compulsory acquisition of property of minority educational institutions shall ensure that compensation amount to be paid does not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed above;

(ix) Article30(2) – Freedom of minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State;

 

5.National Gene Bank

#GS3 # Indigenization of Technology & Developing New Technology in Biotechnology # Awareness in Different Fields

Context: Recently, the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare minister inaugurated the world’s 02nd largest renovated National Gene Bank at the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR).

  • Gene Banks are a type of storehouse which preserve genetic material. A collection of seed plants, tissue cultures etc.
  • For plants, this is done by in-vitro storing, freezing cuttings from the plant, or stocking the seeds.
  • For animals, this is done by the freezing of sperm and eggs in zoological freezers until further need.
  • With corals, fragments are taken and stored in water tanks under controlled conditions.
  • A gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. Genes are made up of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA).

About National Gene Bank:

  • The National Gene Bank was established in the year 1996 to preserve the seeds of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) for future generations.
  • It is built with a capacity to preserve about 01 million germplasm in the form of seeds.
    • Germplasm is living tissue from which new plants can be grown. It contains the information for a species’ genetic makeup, a valuable natural resource of plant diversity.
  • NBPGR is meeting the need of in-situ and ex-situ germplasm conservation through Delhi Headquarters and 10 regional stations in the country.
  • Currently, it is protecting 4.52 lakh accessions, of which 2.7 lakh are Indian germplasm and the rest have been imported from several countries.

Facilities available:

  • The NGB has four kinds of facilities to cater to long-term as well as medium-term conservation namely:
    • Seed Gene bank (- 18°C),
    • Cryo gene bank (-170°C to -196°C),
    • In-vitro Gene bank (25°C), and
    • Field Gene bank
  • It stores different crop groups such as cereals, millets, medicinal and aromatic plants, and narcotics, etc.

Other Facilities:

  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault which is located underground on a remote island north of Norway has the world’s largest collection of seeds.
  • The San Diego Institute for Conservation Research houses another project, called the Frozen Zoo.
    • Its collection includes cells from thousands of birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians and fish. The cells stored there might one day be used to help rebuild populations of endangered species.
  • The Smithsonian and SVF Biodiversity Preservation Project in the United States freezes semen and embryos from rare breeds of domestic animals.
  • India’s seed vault is at Chang La (Ladakh) in the Himalayas.
  • National Animal Gene Bank, established at the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR – Karnal, Haryana), has the objective of conserving the indigenous livestock biodiversity.

Plant Genetic Resources:

 

  1. Tomato Leaf curl New Delhi Virus:

#GS3 # Major Crops Cropping Patterns in Various Parts of the Country #Biodiversity and Environment

Context has been unravelled by Scientists of National Institute of Plant Genome Research have recently unravelled the effective defence strategy deployed by a resistant tomato cultivar against Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus.

Key Details:

  • Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus is a bipartite, whitefly-transmitted, begomovirus which was first described on tomatoes in India in 1995.
  • This infection causes severe losses in tomato yield worldwide.
  • Lack of information on resistance (R) genes against ToLCNDV has considerably retarded the pace of crop improvement against this rapidly spreading pathogen. Several attempts have been made to identify antiviral genes against ToLCNDV and related viruses.
  • Scientists from DBT Autonomous Institution, National Institute of Plant Genomics Research (NIPGR) report an effective defense strategy deployed by a resistant tomato cultivar against ToLCNDV.
  • It employs Sw5a (R gene) that recognizes AC4 protein (viral effector) of ToLCNDV to restrict virus spread. These findings could be translated into development of resistance in susceptible cultivars of tomato through modern breeding or molecular approaches.
  • Diseases caused by ToLCNDV on its different host plants generally include yellow mosaic, leaf curling, vein swelling, and plant stunting.

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