Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - December 15, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Ischaemum Janarthanamii Plant Species

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • Recently, a novel species of Muraingrass has been identified by scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), in the plateaus of Western Ghats of Goa.
  • There are globally 85 species from Ischaemum (genus) which are commonly known as muraingrasses, of which 61 are exclusively found in India.

Background

  • It is named as ‘Ischaemum janarthanamii’ in honour of Prof. M. K. Janarthanam who is famous for his contribution to Indian grass taxonomy.
  • It has the ability to survive harsh conditions with low nutrient availability, and blossoms every monsoon.

Highlights

  • It grows on low altitude lateritic plateaus in the outskirts of Bhagwan Mahavir National Park, Goa.
  • The Western Ghats have 40 species with the highest concentration of the Ischaemum (genus).
  • The Western Ghats of India is one of the global biodiversity hotspots owing to its endemism of flora and fauna.
  • The northern part of this biodiversity hotspot, along with the Konkan region, is considerably different from its southern and central parts on account of lesser precipitation and extended dry season.
  • They are spread through states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  • A notable geographical feature of the Northern Western Ghats is the presence of plateaus and cliffs that display maximum endemic species, unlike forests.

Source: Indian Express.

Karnataka’s regressive cattle bill

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Context

  • One of India’s most progressive states, Karnataka has passed the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020, in the assembly.
  • The BJP-led government passed the bill amid strong opposition from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).

Background

  • The bill is regressive in nature and can be potentially used to harass the innocent people.
  • The bill envisages a ban on all forms of cattle slaughter and stringent punishment for the offenders.

About the provisions

  • Many of the provisions of the bill are harsh and are deeply worrying.
  • It goes against the democratic norms of the country.
  • A part of the bill, which allows search and seizure by a police officer of the rank of sub-inspector and above, has people worried over potential harassment and abuse.
  • This provision can be easily misused to harass the innocent public.
  • Also, the punishment under this bill is very stringent.
  • The violators can attract three to seven years of imprisonment.
  • While a penalty between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakhs can be levied for the first offence, second and subsequent offences can attract penalties ranging between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 10 lakhs.
  • The bill has been passed by the BJP, especially targeting the minority communities, and to appease the majority.
  • However it is going to hurt the farmers too.
  • People involved in the meat industry will now be reluctant to buy cow, buffalo, etc, from farmers.
  • It is a common practice that farmers usually dispose of those animals that are old and are of no use for them.
  • Also, Karnataka is considered as a progressive state as its capital Bengaluru is the IT hub of India.
  • This kind of law is going to hurt its image and keep foreign investors out.

Source: Times of India.

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Maharashtra Bill Proposes Death Penalty for Heinous Crimes Against Women, Children

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Context

In a bid to curb heinous crimes against women and children in Maharashtra, the state cabinet approved a draft Bill that includes provisions for stern punishment – including a death penalty, life sentence, and hefty fines, for the perpetrators as well as speedy trials.

Background

  • The draft Bill seeks to amend relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for the proposed law’s application in the state.
  • The cabinet approved the draft Bill at a meeting in Mumbai, the draft will now be tabled in the state legislature during its upcoming winter session.

Highlights

  • A two-day winter session of the legislature begins in Mumbai on December 14.
  • The Bill, which is to be called the ‘Shakti Act’, will come up for discussion and approval in both houses of the legislature.
  • It provides for completing probe in a case within 15 days and trial within 30 days.
  • After getting a nod from the House, the Bill will be sent to the Central government for approval and Presidential assent.
  • A statement from the chief minister’s office (CMO) said the Bill will be tabled in the legislature in two parts – the Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020, and the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020.
  • The provisions of the new law aim to control heinous sexual offences against women and children.
  • It provides for completing investigation and trial within a stipulated time-frame as well as stringent punishment, including the death penalty and heavy fines, for culprits 

Source: The Wire.

PM Modi lays foundation stone of new Parliament building

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Context

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed a ground-breaking ceremony in the heart of Delhi to mark the symbolic launch of the new parliament building.
  • In September this year, Tata Projects Limited won the bid to construct the new Parliament building.

Background

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveils a plaque to mark the foundation stone laying ceremony of New Parliament Building in Delhi.
  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, foreign Envoys and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also present at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the new Parliament building.

Highlights

  • Pujaris from the Sringeri Math Karnataka did the rituals for the 'bhoomi pujan' at the new Parliament building site.
  • PM Narendra Modi lays foundation stone of new Parliament building.
  • The new Parliament building will be constructed close to the existing one under the Central Vista redevelopment project, and is expected to be completed by 2022 at an estimated cost of ₹971 crore.

Source: LiveMint.

India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine candidate receives approval to initiate Phase 1 and 2 human clinical trials

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Context

  • India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine candidate has received approval from Indian Drug regulators to initiate Phase one and two human clinical trials.
  • The novel mRNA vaccine candidate, HGCO19 has been developed by Gennova, Pune and supported with seed grant under the Ind-CEPI mission of the Department of Biotechnology.

Background

  • The mRNA vaccines do not use the conventional model to produce immune response.
  • Instead, they carry the molecular instructions to make the protein in the body through a synthetic RNA of the virus.

Highlights

  • mRNA-based vaccines are scientifically the ideal choice to address a pandemic because of their rapid developmental timeline.
  • The mRNA vaccine is considered safe as is non-infectious, non-integrating in nature, and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms.
  • Scientists say, these vaccines can be quickly manufactured in an inexpensive manner under cGMP conditions to ensure their availability and accessibility for mass vaccination on a sustainable basis.
  • Gennova, in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, Seattle, USA, has worked together to develop an mRNA vaccine candidate.
  • HGCO19 has already demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, neutralization antibody activity in animals.
  • The neutralizing antibody response of the vaccine in mice and non-human primates was comparable with the sera from the convalescent patients of COVID-19.
  • The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology is implementing the Ind-CEPI mission-India Centric Epidemic Preparedness through Rapid Vaccine Development and Supporting Indian Vaccine Development which is aligned with the Global Initiative of CEPI.

Source: AIR News.

Indian Railways Launches Hospital Management Information System Trial Project

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context

  • Indian Railways has launched another major IT initiative towards according priority for the well-being of its work force.
  • The Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) has been launched by Dr. B. P Nanda, Director General, Railway Health services, Railway Board through virtual means.

Background

  • The HMIS in Railways has been developed by Indian Railways in coordination with RailTel Corporation Limited.
  • The objective of the HMIS is to provide a single window of clearance of hospital administration activity such as clinical, diagnostics, pharmacy, examinations, industrial health etc.

About the objectives

  • Effectively manage all the health facilities & its resources
  • Monitor performance of hospitals across the administrative channel
  • Impart quality health care services to its beneficiaries
  • Improve the patient turn-around time
  • Generate and maintain EMR (electronic medical records) of all patients

Source: PIB.

Draft Indian Ports Bill, 2020 issued for Public Consultation

Focus: GS3.                                

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has circulated draft of Indian Ports Bill 2020 for public consultation which will repeal and replace the Indian Ports Act, 1908 (Act No. 15 of 1908).
  • The draft Indian Ports Bill, 2020, seeksto,inter alia,enable the structured growth and sustainable development of ports to attract investments in the Port sector for optimum utilisation of the Indian Coastline byeffective administration and management of ports.

Background

  • The proposed Bill will provide measures to facilitate conservation of ports, taking into account the prevalent situation with respect to the high number of non-operational ports.
  • It shall further ensure greater investment in the Indian maritime and ports sector through the creation of improved, comprehensive regulatory frameworks for the creation of new ports and management of existing ports.

Highlights

The Bill also seeks to, inter alia, create an enabling environment for the growth and sustained development of the ports sector in India through the following broad methods:

  • Constitution of Maritime Port Regulatory Authority
  • Formulation of the National Port policy and National Port plan in consultation with Coastal State Governments, State Maritime Boards and other stakeholders.
  • Formulation of specialised Adjudicatory Tribunals namely Maritime Ports Tribunal and Maritime Ports Appellate Tribunal to curb any anti-competitive practises in the port sector and act as a speedy and affordable grievance redressal mechanism.

Source: PIB.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. With reference to the real-time gross settlement (RTGS), consider the following statements:
  • The term real-time gross settlement (RTGS) refers to a funds transfer system that allows for the instantaneous transfer of money and/or securities.
  • RGTS is the continuous process of settling payments on an individual order basis without netting debits with credits across the books of a central bank.
  • Once completed, real-time gross settlement payments are final and revocable.

 

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

       A. 1 and 2 only
       B. 2 and 3 only
       C. 1 and 3 only
       D. AOTA

Solution: A

  • Once completed, real-time gross settlement payments are final and irrevocable.
  1. What is HGCO19, recently seen in news?

      A. New species of plants
      B. New planet in Andromeda
      C. New species of frogs
      D. India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine candidate

Solution: D

 

 

 

 

 

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