Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - August 22, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Domicile-based job quota

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • Madhya Pradesh state government has decided to reserve all government jobs for children of the state.
  • Although the details of the proposal are not yet outlined, the reservation solely based on place of birth would raise questions relating to the fundamental Right to Equality.

About Article 16

  • Article 16 guarantees equal treatment under law in matters of public employment.
    • It prohibits the state from discriminatingon grounds of place of birth or residence.
  • Article 16(2) says no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State.
  • Article 16(3) provides an exception that Parliament may make a law prescribing a requirement of residence for jobs in a particular state.
    • This power vests solely in the Parliament, not in the state legislatures.

About the Highlights

  • India has common citizenship, which gives citizens the liberty to move around freely in any part of the country.
  • So,the requirement of a place of birth or residence cannot be qualifications for granting public employment in any state.
  • Equality enshrined in the Constitution is not mathematical equalityand does not mean all citizens will be treated alike without any distinction.
  • To this effect, the Constitution underlines two distinct aspectsof the equality law:
    • Non-discrimination among equals.
    • Affirmative action to equalise the unequals.

Source: Indian Express.

National Recruitment Agency

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

Cabinet approves creation of National Recruitment Agency (NRA), paving the way for a transformational reform in the recruitment process for central government jobs.

Background
  • At present, candidates seeking government jobs have to appear for separate examinations conducted by multiple recruiting agencies for various posts.
  • Candidates have to pay fee to multiple recruiting agencies and also have to travel long distances for appearing in various exams.
  • These multiple recruitment examinations are a burden on the candidates, as also on the respective recruitment agencies.
About NRA
  • A multi-agency body called the National Recruitment Agency (NRA) will conduct a Common Eligibility Test (CET) to screen/shortlist candidates.
  • NRA will have representatives of Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance/Department of Financial Services, the SSC, RRB & IBPS.
  • It is envisioned that the NRA would be a specialist body bringing the state-of-the-art technology and best practices to Central Government recruitment.
  • Examination Centres in every District of the country would greatly enhance access to the candidates located in far-flung areas.
  • Special focus will be on creating examination infrastructure in the 117 Aspirational Districts.
  • It will motivate the rural candidates residing in the far-flung areas to take the up Central Government jobs.

Source: PIB.

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The Corona Fighters

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • The Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on August 20, 2020, launched an interactive first-of-its-kind game on COVID-19, named Corona Fighters.
  • The Union Minister also launched two new videos urging people to adhere to COVID Appropriate Behaviours.

Background

  • On the occasion, the health minister expressed his happiness at the launch of this uniquely designed game- ‘The Corona Fighters’.
  • He mentioned that it presents a new and creative way of teaching people the right tools and behaviour to fight the pandemic.

About the Highlights

  • Corona Fighters video game is available on www.coronafighters.in and has been specifically designed to influence the player's actions in the real world by reminding them to take the right precautions and escape the infection of the virus.
  • Health Minister also mentioned that along with the video game, the two promotional videos, are simply designed and are an enjoyable medium to get a serious message across to the wider public.
  • While highlighting the importance of appropriate behaviour, the union minister added that till we get a vaccine for COVID-19, the COVID appropriate behaviour will serve as a potent social vaccine and will keep up protected and safe.

Source: Indian Express

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

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • Government has set up an National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19.
  • The purpose of the group is to keep India in the forefront of any ongoing effort worldwide to innovate, prepare, produce and launch candidate vaccines to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, for India and for the world.

About the Highlights

  • Through the inputs and support of the External Affairs Ministry, this Expert Group will help to connect Indian companies that are interested in any candidate vaccines, and facilitate the process of ensuring that the relevant testing data is made available to our regulatory agencies.
  • Replying to a media query this evening, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the regulator can then decide on the nature of trials that may be needed before a decision can be taken on the use of any candidate vaccine in India.

Source: AIR News.

India sign cultural agreement with Israel to further strengthen people-to-people ties

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

In a major development taking their friendship to the next level to further strengthen their strategic bilateral relations India and Israel signed a cultural agreement that outlines a three-year program of cooperation that aims to promote greater people-to-people exchanges.

Background

  • The agreement states that it shall contribute to the development of their relations and to raising awareness, particularly among youth, of the history and culture of the people of both countries.
  • This is one of a series of agreements that will be followed by the signing of a water agreement by our Ambassador in India.
  • This agreement is based on the cultural agreement signed between India and Israel on 18th May 1993 a little more than a year after they established full-fledged diplomatic relations.

About the Highlights

  • During the agreement, Gabi Ashkenazi said that the cultural agreement with India is one of a series of agreements we have and it will be followed by the signing of a water agreement by our Ambassador in India.
  • He added that he is excited to say that they are working on a mutual film production with the famous Bollywood industry of India.
  • The major areas of cooperation identified to promote cultural ties include the exchange of culture and art experts, encouraging cooperation in the protection of cultural heritage and archaeology with the help of Israel Antiquities Authority (IIA) and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and organising literary fests and book fairs while promoting the translation of famous works in each other's languages.
  • It also includes student exchanges through scholarships, encouraging the participation of films and film-makers in each other's international film festivals, devising youth exchange programs, and encouraging sports-related interaction among youth.
  • Moreover, Israel's Ambassador to India, Ron Malka, signed an agreement with the state of Uttar Pradesh earlier to cooperate in the field of water utility on the Indo-Israel Bundelkhand water project.

Source: AIR News.

Centre eases norms to offer 50 pct of salary for three months as unemployment allowance to workers covered under ESIC

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • The Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) relaxed norms to pay 50 per cent of average wages of three months as unemployment benefit between March 24 and December 31 this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The ESIC took the decision in its 182nd meeting held under the Chairmanship of Union Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar.

Background

  • ESIC is implementing the Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyna Yojna under which unemployment benefit is paid to the workers covered under Employees' State Insurance (ESI) Scheme.
  • The ESIC has decided to extend the scheme for one more year upto 30th June next year.
  • It has been decided to relax the existing conditions and the amount of relief for workers who have lost employment during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
  • The enhanced relief under the relaxed conditions will be payable during the period of 24th March to 31st December this year.

About the Highlights

  • Thereafter the scheme will be available with original eligibility condition during the period between 1st of January next year to 30th of June, next year. Review of these conditions will be done after 31st of December this year, depending upon the need and demand for such relaxed condition.
  • The eligibility criteria for availing the relief has also been relaxed.
  • The payment of relief has been enhanced to 50 per cent of average of wages from earlier 25 percent of average wages payable upto maximum 90 days of unemployment.
  • Instead of the relief becoming payable 90 days after unemployment, it shall become due for payment after 30 days.
  • The Insured Person (IP) can submit the claim directly to ESIC Branch Office instead of the claim being forwarded by the last employer and the payment shall be made directly in the bank account of IP.
  • The Insured Person should have been insurable employment for a minimum period of 2 years before his/her employment and should have contributed for not less than 78 days in the contribution period immediately preceding to unemployment and minimum 78 days in one of the remaining 3 contribution periods in 2 years prior to unemployment.
  • During the meeting, ESIC also took some important decisions towards improvement in its service delivery mechanism and providing relief to workers hit by the pandemic.
  • The decisions include establishment of ICU/HDU (Intensive care unit) services upto 10 percent of total commissioned beds in all ESIC Hospitals.
  • Around 60 members of the Corporation including employers’ representatives, employees’ representatives, professional experts and representatives of State Government participated in the meeting through video conference.

Source: AIR News.

Processing units to boost tribals’ income

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs will set up processing units for minor forest produce in 
  • Chattisgarh and Maharashtra in a bid to enhance incomes of tribal communities.
  • The venture would be carried out with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries under the project name of ‘Trifood’.
  • The implementation agency of the programme will be the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED). 

Background

  • Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda virtually launched Trifood project in Raigad, Maharashtra and Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh. 
  • The project would enhance the income of tribal communities through better utilisation of and value addition to the minor forest produces (MFPs) collected by the tribal forest gatherers.
  • The unit in Raigad will be used for value addition to mahua, amla, custard apple and jamun to produce mahua drink, amla juice, candy, jamun juice and custard apple pulp.

About the Objective

  • The multi-commodity processing centre in Jagdalpur will be used for the processing of commodities like mahua, amla, honey, cashew, tamarind, ginger, garlic and other fruits and vegetables.
  • The processed products will be sold across the country in Tribes India outlets, and franchisee stores.
  • TRIFED also plans to identify and train tribal entrepreneurs who can also sell the products. 
  • The TRIFOOD project in Chhattisgarh and  Maharashtra is an attempt to offer a development package for tribals.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Draft e-pharmacy regulations:
  1. Draft rules for e-pharmacies sought to define the online sale of medicines, what an e-prescription means and what type of licences online firms would need to get from regulators to operate.
  2. The draft had proposed to allow e-pharmacies to get a central licence to operate from the country’s apex drug regulator, which could be used to allow it to operate across the country.
  3. The proposed regulations prevent them from selling habit-forming drugs like cough syrups specified in Schedule IX of the Indian drug regulations.

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

2. Consider the following:

  • The proposed regulations prevent them from selling habit-forming drugs like cough syrups specified in Schedule X of the Indian drug regulations.

  1. Which of the following rivers forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal?

        A. Ganges
        B. Brahmaputra
        C. Yamuna
        D. Teesta

Solution: D

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