Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - November 21, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

India, Kazakhstan Hold 7th Round of Foreign Office Consultations, Review Bilateral Cooperation

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests.

Context


India and Kazakhstan held the seventh round of Foreign Office Consultations (FoC) via digital video-conference and reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation within the framework of their Strategic Partnership, the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry (MEA) said.

Background

"During the consultations, the two sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation within the framework of their Strategic Partnership. The consultations covered political, economic and commercial, energy, defence, space, consular and cultural matters. They also shared views and experiences on combating the COVID-19 pandemic," MEA said.

Highlights

  • The statement said that the two sides also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and agreed to enhance cooperation in the multilateral arena, including during the forthcoming stint of India in the UN Security Council for the period 2021-22.
  • As announced by the External Affairs Minister during the recent India-Central Asia Dialogue, an MoU on "Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects in Kazakhstan" was signed between both sides coinciding with the FoC.
  • During the talks, both sides agreed to hold the next consultations in a physical format at a mutually convenient date.

Source: The Hindu.

Hurricane Iota that made landfall in Central America

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.


Context

  • Hurricane Iota made landfall in Nicaragua in Central America on Monday night and has developed into a category five storm.
  • Iota was spotted as a tropical depression last week in the Central Caribbean Sea by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), which is responsible for issuing forecasts for all tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific basins.

Background

The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June to November and covers the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, while the Eastern Pacific Hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30.

About Hurricane Iota

  • As per the NHC, hurricane Iota is a significant storm, and damaging winds and a life-threatening storm surge are expected along portions of the coast of north-eastern Nicaragua during the next several hours.
  • Further, NHC notes that due to heavy rainfall associated with the storm, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding is expected through across portions of Central America.
  • Hurricanes are categorised on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which rates them on a scale of 1 to 5 based on wind speed.
  • Hurricanes that reach category three or higher are called ‘major hurricanes’ because of their potential to cause devastating damage to life and property.
  • Iota is a category five storm. Significantly, its landfall location near the town of Haul over in Nicaragua is just over 25 km away from where category four hurricane Eta made landfall on November 3, and killed over 140 people across Central America.
  • Therefore, flooding and mudslides across the portions of Honduras, Nicaragua and Gautemala could be exacerbated because of Eta’s recent effects in these areas, “resulting in significant to potentially catastrophic impacts”, NHC has said.
  • According to The New York Times, aid workers are struggling to reach communities cut off by washed-out bridges, downed trees and flooded roads in some regions of Central America, which are still reeling from the effects of hurricane Eta.

Source: Indian Express.

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EESL Signs MoU with DNRE Goa to implement the country’s first Convergence Project

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power and Department of New & Renewable Energy (DNRE), Goa, have signed a memorandum of understanding today to discuss rolling out of India’s first Convergence Project in the State. 

Background

  • Under the MoU, EESL and DNRE will carry-out the feasibility studies and subsequent implementation of decentralized solar energy projects.
  • EESL shall implement the solar energy projects, establishment of 100 MW of decentralized ground mounted Solar Power projects on government lands to be used for agricultural pumping, replace approximately 6,300 agricultural pumps with BEE star rated energy efficient pumps and distribute approximately 16 Lakh LED bulbs for rural domestic households.

Highlights

  • This model is expected to be adopted by other states as this will reduces losses in terms of expenditure on water for farm sector runs into tens of thousands crore rupees in several States.
  • That preempts state spending on health, education, and other important sectors.
  • Togetherwith new Roof Top Solar Scheme this will prove to be win win for farmers and States and help them turn into green States.
  • Goa is the first state to adopt Convergence.
  • The project will accrue savings of INR 2,574 crores to the State over the period of 25 years, while improving the health of DISCOMs and providing cleaner power.
  • This project will provide clean day time electricity to farmers as well as energy efficient pump sets which would reduce the power consumption as well as T&D losses associated with transmitting power to agriculture and rural feeder networks.
  • The projects will accelerate the usage of renewable energy sources, especially for agricultural and rural power consumption in the State.
  • The projects will also contribute in reduction of peak energy demand through deployment of energy efficient pumping and lighting thus contributing to overall sustainability.
  • In Goa, with the objective of providing clean power at affordable rates, EESL will install solar projects in a first of its kind large scale programme where vacant/unused land provided by the Gram Panchayats/electricity board will be utilized.
  • The solar power plant will be installed near the substation, with capacities ranging from 500KW to 2 MW, depending on the size of the land, this will enable DISCOMs to supply power during the day time and reduce transmission losses.

Source: PIB.

28 additional judges of Allahabad High Court made permanent

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Indian Judiciary.


Context

  • President of India in exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution of India, appointed 28 Additional Judges as Permanent Judges of Allahabad High Court.
  • With a sanctioned strength of 160 judges and the number of cases registered, the Allahabad High Court is the largest of the 25 High Courts in the country.

About Article 217(1)

  • Every Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and, in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the chief Justice, the chief Justice of the High court.
  • Every Judge of a High Court shall hold office, in the case of an additional or acting Judge, as provided in Article 224, and in any other case, until he attains the age of sixty two years Provided that
    • a Judge may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office;
    • a Judge may be removed from his office by the President in the manner provided in clause (4) of Article 124 for the removal of a Judge of the Supreme Court;
    • the office of a Judge shall be vacated by his being appointed by the President to be a Judge of the Supreme Court or by his being transferred by the President to any other High Court within the territory of India.

Source: The Hindu.

Lilavati Award-2020: AICTE's Innovative education program to empower women

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

  • Union Minister of Education recently virtually launched Lilavati Award-2020: AICTE's Innovative education program to empower women.
  • The Theme is Women empowerment.

Objective

To create awareness about issues like sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, literacy, employment, technology, credit, marketing, innovation, skill development, natural resources, and rights among women.

About the awards

  • To treat women with ‘equality and fairness’ in all spheres of life, by the means of this initiative, all the stakeholders (especially the girl students) in AICTE approved institutions would get a unique opportunity.
  • The opportunity is to present a solution to the prevalent issues of gender discrimination, which includes illiteracy, unemployment, economic and nutritional disparities, maternal mortality, human rights, etc. 
  • Also, if anyone has already made a successful effort towards making a mark in the society, in establishing women’s emancipation/ empowerment at large, she/ he can showcase their efforts/ contributions.
  • The program is expected to ensure the participation of women and enable them to hold higher positions in educational institutions.

Source: PIB.

BRICS unveils new counter-terrorism strategy

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Context

  • China signed off on the BRICS counter-terrorism strategy that called upon on all countries to take steps to prevent the use of their territories for terrorist activities against other countries or their own citizens.
  • While Russia was the key drafting country as the host and chair of BRICS this year, China also signed off on the declaration which talked about “respect for territorial integrity” of Syria, Libya, Iraq and in the context of the UN.

Background

The BRICS counter-terrorism strategy, issued, said the member countries “calls upon all nations to take appropriate measures to prevent the use of their territories for terrorist bases or the perpetration or organization of terrorist acts intended to be committed against other States or their citizens”.

Highlights

  • It also stressed on the need for “all States to refrain from organizing, instigating, facilitating, participating in, financing, encouraging or tolerating terrorist activities and to take appropriate practical measures to ensure that their territories are not used for terrorist bases or preparation or organization of terrorist acts intended to be committed against other States or their citizens”.
  • This is especially important since Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged terrorism as the biggest problem in his remarks. Delhi blames China’s all-weather ally, Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism against India.
  • The BRICS declaration countries also underlined the cross-border movement of terrorists. BRICS countries “recognize that acts, methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations are activities aimed at the destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy, threatening territorial integrity, security of States, and that the international community should take the necessary steps to enhance cooperation to prevent and combat terrorism, including cross-border movement of terrorists”, the statement said.
  • The declaration also flagged the issue of territorial integrity in the context of the UN, Syria, Iraq and Libya.
  • “We call the international community to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations by enhanced efforts to establish a more fair, just, inclusive, equitable and representative multipolar international system, based on sovereign equality of all States, respect for their territorial integrity and mutual respect for interests and concerns of all,” it said.

Source: Indian Express.

Supreme Court’s recent observations on Article 32

Focus: GS2.                                

Topic: Indian Judiciary.


Context

  • A Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde observed that it is “trying to discourage” individuals from filing petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution.
  • The observation came during the hearing of a petition seeking the release of journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested with three otherswhile on their way to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, to report on an alleged gangrape and murder.

About Article 32

  • It is one of the fundamental rights listed in the Constitution that each citizen is entitled.
  • Article 32 deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, or affirms the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the Constitution.
  • It states that the Supreme Court “shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part”.
  • The right guaranteed by this Article “shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution”.
  • The Article is included in Part III of the Constitution with other fundamental rights including to Equality, Freedom of Speech and Expression, Life and Personal Liberty, and Freedom of Religion.
  • Only if any of these fundamental rights is violated can a person can approach the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.

Highlights

  • During the Constituent Assembly debates in December 1948, a discussion on this fundamental right (in the draft, it is referred to as Article 25), Dr B R Ambedkar had said, “If I was asked to name any particular Article in this Constitution as the most important — an Article without which this Constitution would be a nullity — I could not refer to any other Article except this one. It is the very soul of the Constitution and the very heart of it…” He said the rights invested with the Supreme Court through this Article could not be taken away unless the Constitution itself is amended and hence it was “one of the greatest safeguards that can be provided for the safety and security of the individual”.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements with reference to QRSAM:
  • The system is capable of detecting and tracking targets on the move and engaging targets with short halts.
  • It is designed to give air defence coverage for strike columns of the Indian Army.
  • Propelled by a dual stage solid propellant rocket motor, the sophisticated missile used all indigenous subsystems.

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

  • Propelled by a single stage solid propellant rocket motor, the sophisticated missile used all indigenous subsystems.

  1. Recently a MoU on “Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects” was signed with which of the following countries?

     A. Sri Lanka
     B. Vietnam
     C. Kazakhstan
     D. Qatar

Solution: C

 

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