Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - September 24, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

India clears Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to protect healthcare workers.

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • India passed a legislation aimed at protecting healthcare workers fighting the Covid-19 disease outbreak in the country by criminalising attacks on medical workers, resulting into imprisonment for up to five years.
  • The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced by Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan in the Upper House to replace an ordinance issued by the government in April.

Background

  • The previous ordinance amended the act dating to 1897 which protected healthcare service personnel and property, including their living and working premises against violence during epidemics.
  • With reports of attacks on doctors and medical staff during the Covid-19 disease outbreak, the government introduced the bill to send across the message of zero-tolerance to any form of violence against frontline workers engaged in health sector and damage to their property.

Salient Features

  • Any healthcare worker who has suffered damage to their property such as clinical establishment, any facility for quarantine and isolations of patients, mobile medical units or any other property related to healthcare service personnel who have direct interest due to the epidemic can invoke the provisions of this act.
  • The act is applicable to healthcare service personnel from public and clinical healthcare service providers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical workers and community health workers; any other persons empowered under the act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease or spread.
  • Once a crime is legally registered, the offence will be investigated by an officer of the rank of inspector within a period of 30 days and the trial has to be completed within a year, unless extended by the court.
  • Anyone found guilty of such acts of violence against healthcare personnel will be punishable with an imprisonment for a term of three months to five years, and with a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000.

Source: Hindustan Times.

MoRTH advises States, UTs to stamp International Convention of Road Traffic on 1st page of IDP

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has advised the States and Union Territory administrations to stamp International Convention of Road Traffic of 19th September 1949 on the first page of International Driving Permit, IDP issued by them.
  • The Ministry said, it has been brought to its notice that many countries are not accepting the International Driving Permit issued to Indian citizens and that officials there ask for the validation of IDP in accordance with International Convention of Road Traffic of 19th September 1949.

Background

In an advisory issued to Transport Secretaries, Commissioners of States and UTs, the Ministry has also provided a copy of the stamp as being placed by some of the RTOs and accepted internationally for reference.

About the Convention

  • The Convention on Road Traffic, commonly known as the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, is an international treaty promoting the development and safety of international road traffic by establishing certain uniform rules among the contracting parties.
  • The convention addresses minimum mechanical and safety equipment needed to be on board and defines an identification mark to identify the origin of the vehicle.
  • The Convention was prepared and opened for signature by the United Nations Conference on Road and Motor Transport held at Geneva from 23 August to 19 September 1949.
  • It came into force on 26 March 1952.
  • The Geneva Convention on Road Traffic was concluded in Geneva on 19 September 1949.
  • The convention has been ratified by 101 countries. Since its entry into force on 26 March 1952, in signatory countries ("Contracting Parties") it replaces previous road traffic conventions, notably the 1926 International Convention relative to Motor Traffic and the International Convention relative to Road Traffic, and the Convention on the Regulation of Inter-American Automotive Traffic in accordance with Article 30 of the Convention.
  • Many of the contracting parties have also ratified the newer convention the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of 1968.
  • In signatory countries of the 1968 Vienna Convention, this replaces previous road traffic conventions including the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, in accordance with Article 48 of the Vienna Convention.

Source: PIB.

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IFSCA Committee submits interim report on development of international retail business

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) Expert Committee on international retail business development in the IFSC has submitted its interim report to the Chairperson of the IFSCA.
  • The interim report covers a number of suggestions aimed at swift and efficient development of international retail businesses in the IFSC, and focuses mainly on the banking vertical.

Background

  • Other key business verticals, i.e., insurance, asset management, and capital markets, will be covered in reports that the committee plans to release subsequently.
  • The Expert Committee has been constituted by the IFSCA with an aim to suggest how to develop international retail business in International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) along with potential strategies for making IFSC attractive for international financial services; provide a roadmap for future growth of international retail business in IFSC; and also examine and recommend any other issues that are important in the development of the IFSC.

About the aim

The committee suggests that the IFSC can aim at:

  • Becoming a gateway to India growth story for international investors and business
  • Providing Indian diaspora and individuals from Asia and Africa with a comprehensive range of financial services from the IFSC
  • Serving domestic residents availing liberalized remittance scheme

About the Highlights

  • Further, the IFSC with its approach of “FinServe from IFSC” would complement the ‘Make in India’ vision of the Government of India.
  • There is immense immediate potential to promote international retail business in IFSC, and if done efficiently, it will meet three key objectives – boost job creation, generate additional revenue for India, and attract funds (especially from the Indian diaspora) for building India’s infrastructure.
  • The IFSC must aim to provide best in class jurisdictions and aim to build its competitiveness in terms of key factors like reputation, regulatory environment, taxation and ease of operations.
  • The other members of the Expert Committee comprise G. Srinivasan, (Ex-CMD, New India Assurance Ltd.), Siddhartha Sengupta, (ex-DMD, State Bank of India), Shyamal Mukherjee (chairman, PWC), Prakash Subramanian (head-strategy, Standard Chartered Bank), Dipesh Shah (head-IFSC dept., GIFT IFSC) and Nitin Jaiswal (head-Govt Affairs and Strategic relations, Bloomberg, Asia Pacific).
  • The Government of India had constituted the IFSCA with Shri I Srinivas as its Chairperson earlier this year to develop and regulate the financial services market in the IFSC in India.
  • Apart from channelizing India's offshore business to the IFSC located at GIFT City and making it the gateway for India centric international financial services, the objective is to make it a global hub for international financial services on the lines of London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Dubai.

Source: PIB.

India and Maldives launch direct cargo ferry service to boost trade

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya and Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of Maldives, Aishath Nahul jointly e-launched a direct cargo ferry service between India and the Maldives, said the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • According to the statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, during its maiden voyage, a vessel with a capacity of 200 TEU and 3000 MT of breakbulk cargo would sail from Tuticorin to Kochi, from where it will proceed to Kulhudhuffushi port in North Maldives and then to Male port. 

Background

  • It is scheduled to reach Kulhudhuffushi on September 26, 2020 and Male on September 29, 2020.
  • This ferry service, being operated by the Shipping Corporation of India, will run twice a month and will provide a cost-effective, direct and alternative means of transportation of goods between India and Maldives.

About the Highlights

  • The launch of this service concretely fulfils the commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Maldives in June last year and the announcement made by External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar during his virtual meeting with the Foreign Minister of Maldives on August 13, 2020.
  • This direct cargo service will further cement the close ties between India and Maldives by enhancing people-to-people contact and boosting bilateral trade.

Source: AIR News.

Rules for suspension of MPs from House

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures - structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.


Context

  • Eight Rajya Sabha MPs were suspended on September 21 for unruly behavior in the House.
  • The Chairman of Rajya Sabha is empowered under Rule Number 255 to "direct any Member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately" from the House.
Background
  • The general principle is that it is the role and duty of the Presiding Officer Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha  to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly.
  • The suspension of the eight members comes a day after the Upper House witnessed massive unruly scenes by protesting Opposition members during the passage of two farm Bills.
  • In order to ensure that proceedings are conducted in the proper manner, the Speaker/Chairman is empowered to force a Member to withdraw from the House.

About the Highlights

  • Rule Number 373 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business says: “The Speaker, if is of the opinion that the conduct of any Member is grossly disorderly, may direct such Member to withdraw immediately from the House, and any Member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall remain absent during the remainder of the day’s sitting.”
  • To deal with more recalcitrant Members, the Speaker make take recourse to Rules 374 and 374A.
  • In general, a balance has to be struck. There can be no question that the enforcement of the supreme authority of the Presiding Officer is essential for smooth conduct of proceedings.
  • However, it must be remembered that the job of the Presiding Officer is to run the House, not to lord over it.
  • The solution to unruly behavior has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values.
  • A previous Speaker had ordered that television cameras be focused on the demonstrating members, so that people could see for themselves how their representatives were behaving in the House.
  • In the present case, however, the Opposition has accused the Chairman of stopping the telecast of the proceedings in Rajya Sabha.
  • What cannot be denied is that Speaker’s/Chairman’s actions are often dictated more by expediency and the stand of the party that they belong to, rather than by the Rules and principles.
  • So, the ruling party of the day invariably insists on the maintenance of discipline, just as the Opposition insists on its right to protest. And their positions change when their roles flip.

Source: PIB.

Govt announces increase in MSPs for six Rabi crops

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • Union Government has announced increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi crops.
  • The decision was taken in the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Background

  • The MSP of six Rabi crops including Wheat, Chana, Masoor, Mustard, Jowar and Safflower has been hiked in the range of 50 to 300 rupees.
  • The MSP of wheat has been increased by 50 rupees and now stands at one thousand 975 rupees per quintal whereas the MSP for Masoor has been hiked by 300 rupees.

About the Highlights

  • MSP for Mustard and Chana has been increased by 225 rupees.
  • Increase in Jowar's MSP is by 75 rupees while for Safflower the hike is by 112 rupees per quintal.
  • The government paid nearly seven lakh crore rupees to the farmers as part of MSP payment in the last six years which is almost double the amount that was paid from 2009 to 2014 under the UPA Government's tenure.
  • The hike which is in consonance with the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission's report reflects the current government’s commitment towards Minimum Support Price and procurement of agri products in the country.
  • Government has also increased the procurement centres for wheat by 1.5 times and for pulses and oilseeds by three times during the COVID pandemic.
  • Agriculture Ministry has informed that 15 per cent more procurement of wheat has been done during these testing times along with disbursal of nearly 75 thousand crore rupees to the farmers.

Source: AIR News.

IEA and NITI Aayog launch Special Report on Sustainable Recovery Post Covid-19

Focus: GS3.                                

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


Context

  • Against the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, International Energy Agency (IEA), in collaboration with NITI Aayog, presented a ‘Special Report on Sustainable Recovery’ on 18 September 2020.
  • Part of IEA’s flagship World Energy Outlook series, the report proposes a number of actions that could be taken over the next three years to revitalize economies and boost employment while making energy systems cleaner and more resilient.

Background

  • IEA’s Sustainable Recovery Plan has a very useful role in guiding governments, businesses, technologists and other key decision-makers. NITI Aayog has been championing sustainable initiatives since its inception. The SDG indices, Electric Mobility Mission, ACC battery scheme and our leadership in methanol economy initiatives, stand testament to NITI Aayog’s commitment to the sustainable causes.
  • Given that need, IEA’s Sustainable Recovery Plan has a very useful role in guiding governments, businesses, technologists and other key decision-makers.
  • NITI Aayog has been championing sustainable initiatives since its inception. The SDG indices, Electric Mobility Mission, ACC battery scheme and our leadership in methanol economy initiatives, stand testament to NITI Aayog’s commitment to the sustainable causes.

Highlights

  • The key opportunities for India include increasing support for electric vehicles, continued investment in the power sector, and improving energy access in rural areas through improvements to the clean cooking programme.’
  • India’s economic situation and path to recovery and mentioned that the pandemic has highlighted the role of sustainable economic development and India is at the forefront of this effort.
  • The report mentions key sectors for creating jobs: electricity, transportation, buildings, industry and sustainable biofuels and innovations.
  • A combination of policy actions and targeted investments will offer huge benefits to the economy and generate jobs.
  • However, the measures highlighted in the report remains the sovereign choice of the country.

Source: UN News.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Greater one-horned Rhinoceros:
    1. One horned rhino was close to extinction with a population of less than 200 in the beginning of the 20th century.
    2. It is the only large mammal species in Asia to be down-listed from endangered to vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN Red list in 2008.
    3. Environment Ministry launched the National Rhino Conservation Strategylast year to conserve the greater one-horned rhinoceros.

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: D

  1. Red List of Threatened Species is prepared by:

   A. UNEP
   B. IUCN
   C. OECD
   D. UNDP

Solution: B

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