Daily Current Affairs - February 23, 2020 (The Hindu, PIB, Fact Pedia)

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The Hindu – Hyderabad Edition

  • Litmus test for a judicial clean up order (editorial)
  • Essence of the article: Upcoming elections is the litmus test for supreme court order on the criminalization of politics
  • Where does it fall under UPSC Syllabus?
  • Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance
  • Mains: GS2: Polity - Judiciary
  • Synopsis:
  • This article deals with the issues involved in implementing the recent supreme court order on politicians with criminal records.
  • Issues:
  • The politicians claim the cases against them were filed by their political opponents.
  • Ex: Parliamentary Committee ruling against the Election Commission recommendation exclude those candidates against whom charges were framed by a court of law for heinous offences punishable by imprisonment of five years and more.
  • Most of the FIR’s filed were not with criminal intent
  • Ex: Violation of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as a result of civil protest, Cases filed by social activists were hardly considered as criminal.
  • Political parties giving wider publicity to the criminal antecedents of their candidates is not sufficient because:
  • Voter behavior is based on their own immediate needs.
  • The contestants often win by large margins when muscle and money are combined in the rural landscape
  • The upcoming assembly elections will act as the litmus test for the supreme court order in eliminating the criminal politicians.

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*Note: Every aspect of this article is comprehensively covered in 25th & 28th January, 14th & 15th February notes

 

  • Treating medical devices on par with drugs will raise costs: ICRA
  • Where does it fall under UPSC Syllabus?
  • Prelims: Social development
  • Mains: GS2: Social Justice – Issues related to health
  • Synopsis:
  • This article deals with the latest notification of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that notified all medical devices as drugs and to bring them under the purview of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, from April 2020.
  • Why this move?
  • Recent Union Budget introduced a 5% health cess on import of medical devices, making medical devices costlier for hospitals.
  • So, the price hike will be passed on to the patients
  • About the notification:
  • It covers devices used for diagnosis, life support, treatment of ailments, software used in medical instruments, etc.
  • Almost the entire gamut of medical devices will come under the ambit of the notification.
  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) will be regulating the medical devices.
  • The consumables/devices will be brought under regulation in a phased manner by April 1, 2021.
  • What is the cause of concern?
  • Higher regulation:
  • The medical devices will be regulated highly under the Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO).
  • Companies must obtain approval to manufacture, import and sell medical devices in India.
  • High input cost:
  • According to the credit rating agency ICRA, the Centre’s decision will push up the cost of medical devices in India.
  • The increased regulatory requirements will lead to higher input costs.
  • It will increase the cost of compliance, lead time and also lead to higher expenses in launching new products, resulting in an overall increase in the cost of the product.
  • About CDSCO:
  • What? National Drug Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India established under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • Functions under: Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
  • Head: Drugs Controller General of India
  • Legality: Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for:
  • Approval of New Drugs
  • Conduct of Clinical Trials
  • Laying down the standards for Drugs
  • Control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and
  • Coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view to bring the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • CDSCO along with state regulators is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.

 

*Note: Under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, the regulation of manufacture, sale and distribution of Drugs is primarily the concern of the State authorities.

Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and rules 1945:

The Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and rules 1945 have entrusted various responsibilities to central & state regulators for regulation of drugs & cosmetics. Its provisions ensure the safety, rights and well-being of the patients by regulating the drugs and cosmetics.

  • Pakistan retained on ‘grey list’ of FATF
  • Where does it fall under UPSC Syllabus?
  • Prelims: Current events of national and international importance
  • Mains: GS2: International Relations
  • Synopsis:
  • Pakistan was retained on grey list for next four months.
  • Initially Pakistan was given a target to implement 27-point action plan by September 2019. It has to
  • Shut down all access to funding of United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist groups, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • Prosecute the leadership of the groups for any access to finance.
  • Tighten laws and banking security norms.
  • But as Pakistan could finish only four point it failed to achieve the target. So, the deadline got extended to February 2020.
  • The FATF reported that Pakistan needs to improve in eight specific areas. The major concerns are:
  • Pakistan needs to demonstrate that it is identifying and investigating all terror-financing activities in the country.
  • It needs to freeze the funds of all the designated terrorists.
  • The prosecutions must result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions against all terror entities operating in its territory.
  • FATF warned Pakistan to complete the 27-point action plan by June 2020, failing which it will be placed in the blacklist.

 

*Note: For complete details about FATF, Grey list and black list refer to 19th February notes

 

  • Monsoon in Sunderbans likely to get longer, warn climate experts
  • Where does it fall under UPSC Syllabus?
  • Prelims: Environment
  • Mains: GS3: Environment – Climate change
  • Synopsis:
  • This article is about the report titled The Sunderbans and Climate Change released during the ongoing Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
  • Findings of the report:
  • As climate change progresses, the monsoon in Sunderbans will last longer and get more intense over the coming years.
  • Sundarbans are highly susceptible to flooding.
  • Apart from the frequent storms and the rise of sea level, another concern is the rise of salinity both in water and soil.
  • Excess levels of soil salinity can damage the ecosystems and hinder plant growth and also threaten the health of freshwater aquatic life such as fish and giant prawns.
  • An estimated rise of 28 cm above the sea levels will result in a 96 % decline of the habitat of the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) in Bangladesh.
  • The intense monsoon storm is also expected to reduce the availability of prey for the Bengal Tiger in the region, adversely affecting its sustainability in the region.
  • The risk of flooding in Sunderbans will adversely affect these freshwater species.
  • Report Recommendations to address this:
  • Long term coastal planning to ensure that the critically important intertidal habitats with their unique flora and fauna and local inhabitants have a space to retreat inland in case of flooding and subsequent loss of natural habitat for these species.
  • There is the need to protect the existing natural habitat and also enhance natural vegetation in the region to compensate for the impending loss of natural habitat.

 

Press Information Bureau (PIB)

  1. NHAI safeguards the commuting of FASTag users: Charges double the defaulters
  • Which part of UPSC syllabus covers this:
  • Prelims: Economic development
  • Mains: GS3: Economy - Transport
  • Synopsis:
  • FASTag proved to be instrumental in easing lives of commuters on National Highways within two months of its nationwide implementation.
  • Over 1.55 crore FASTags have been issued through multiple Point of Sale (PoS) in two months.
  • Vehicles without FASTags entering into FASTag lane will be charged double the toll fee.
  • Objectives:
  • FASTag:
  • Device that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.
  • Launched by: National Highway Authority of India (NHAI)
  • Mechanism: It facilitates electronic payments at tool plaza directly while the vehicle is in motion
  • It is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables a customer to make the toll payments directly from the account which is linked to FASTag.
  • It is vehicle specific and once it is affixed to a vehicle, it cannot be transferred to another vehicle.
  • FASTag can be purchased from any of the National Electronic Collection (NETC) Member Banks.
  • Any road users can visit any authorized physical point-of-sale locations with a valid Registration Certificate (RC) of the vehicle and get a NHAI FASTag free of cost.
  • A FASTag linked to the prepaid account without adequate balance gets blacklisted at the toll plaza.
  • Benefits:
  • Seamless services to consumers across the country
  • It increases transparency and efficiency in processing transactions
  • Reduce cash handling (Cashless payment)
  • Electronification of retail payments
  • Reduce air pollution by reducing the congestion around toll plaza
  • Savings on fuel and time as the customer does not has to stop at the toll plaza
  • Enhance audit control by centralizing user account

 

  1. PM-KISAN Scheme completes one year on February 24, 2020
  • Which part of UPSC syllabus covers this:
  • Prelims: Agriculture
  • Mains: GS3: Economy – Agriculture & GS2: Governance
  • Synopsis:
  • 24th February, 2020 is the 1st anniversary of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN).
  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN):
  • It is a Central Sector scheme with 100% funding from Government of India
  • Aim:
  • To supplement the financial needs of the SMFs in procuring various inputs and
  • To ensure proper crop health and appropriate yields, commensurate with the anticipated farm income at the end of each crop cycle.
  • Under this programme an income support of Rs.6000/- per year is provided to all farmer families across the country in three equal installments of Rs.2000/- every four months.
  • Definition of family for the Scheme is husband, wife and minor children.
  • The entire responsibility of identification of beneficiary farmer family’s rests with the State / UT Governments.
  • The fund is directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
  • Farmers covered under the Exclusion Criteria of the Operational Guidelines are not eligible for the benefit of the Scheme.
  • The programme was made effective from 1st December 2018 and the first installment for the period upto 31st March 2019 will be paid during this year itself.
  • It results in an annual expenditure of Rs.75, 000 crore.
  • It will not only provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families, but would also meet their emergent needs especially before the harvest season.
  • The following categories are not eligible for benefits under PM-KISAN
  • All Institutional Land holders.
  • Farmer families in which one or more of its members belong to following categories
  • Former and present holders of constitutional posts
  • Former and present Ministers/ State Ministers and former/present Members of LokSabha/ RajyaSabha/ State Legislative Assemblies/ State Legislative Councils, former and present Mayors of Municipal Corporations, former and present Chairpersons of District Panchayats.
  • All serving or retired officers and employees of Central/ State Government Ministries /Offices/Departments and its field units Central or State PSEs and Attached offices /Autonomous Institutions under Government as well as regular employees of the Local Bodies
  • All superannuated/retired pensioners whose monthly pension is Rs.10,000/-or more
  • All Persons who paid Income Tax in last assessment year
  • Professionals like Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, and Architects registered with Professional bodies and carrying out profession by undertaking practices.

 

  • State-Scheme
  • Andhra Pradesh – Amma Vodi
  • It is the flagship scheme of Andhra Pradesh Government
  • Aim: To provide direct financial assistance annually to poor and financially weak mothers or guardians to support them in educating their children.
  • Benefits: Students belonging to Below Poverty Line and students studying in classes I to XII will get Rs 15,000 per annum.
  • However, the guardian or mother of the child should ensure 75% attendance of the child.
  • Eligibility:
  • The scheme will be applicable for all the government, private aided, private unaided schools/junior colleges.
  • It will also include residential schools and colleges in the state.
  • But the scheme is not applicable to dropouts from school or colleges. Government employees and income taxpayers are also not eligible for the scheme.
  • Significance of the scheme:
  • It is the first-of-its-kind scheme in the country, which has the potential to bring significant changes in the education system of Andhra Pradesh and can be a model to

 

Reports/Indices/Resolutions

  1. Global Health Security Index
  • Publisher: Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security (CHS), with research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
  • It is the first comprehensive assessment of health security
  • It assesses 195 countries
  • Categories for assessment: Prevention, early detection, rapid response, health system quality, standards, and the risk environment.
  • Index details:
  • Top 3 Rankings: US, UK and Netherlands
  • India’s rank: 57/195
  • It finds that no country is adequately prepared to deal with the new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that is causing worldwide panic.

 

FactPedia

  1. Chatbot - ASKDISHA
  • It is an Artificial Intelligence-based chatbot.
  • It is a special computer programme designed to simulate conversation with users, especially over the internet.
  • Developer: Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
  • Aim: To resolve queries of railway passengers over the internet pertaining to various services offered.
  • Services provided: Passengers seeking help on the
  • reservation of tickets
  • cancellation
  • enquiry of refund status, fare
  • PNR search, train running status
  • enquiry about retiring rooms and
  • tourism products have been benefited

 

  1. Thirumathi Kart app
  • It is a mobile application for SHG (Self Help Group) products.
  • Developer: National Institute of Technology (NIT), Trichy in coordination with the Union Department of Science and Technology
  • Aim: To empower the women and help them access market opportunities in a seamless manner.
  • It will also enable Self Help Groups to showcase their products to a wider audience.

 

Rivers/peaks/places in news

  1. Kawal tiger reserve
  • Why it is in news? The once existing problem of man-animal conflict for water has declined.
  • Location: In Northern part of the Telegana state
  • The reserve forms the southern end of the central Indian Tiger Reserve Landscape.
  • Geographical features: The forest area found here is the southern tropical mixed dry deciduous forest and dry teak forest.
  • The wildlife sanctuary in Kawal is the catchment area of river Godavari and Kadam.
  • Indicator species of the sanctuary are Tiger and Nilgai.
  • It is also linked to the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharastra to it north and Indravathi Tiger reserve to its east.
  • Conservation details:
  • It was established in 1965
  • It is declared as a Protected Area (PA) in 1999 under the Wildlife protection act (WPA), 1972.
  • The Government of India declared Kawal wildlife sanctuary as Tiger Reserve in 2012.

 

Art & Culture

  1. Herath Festival
  • Shivarathri in Jammu & Kashmir is known as Herath
  • The word Herath comes from the Sanskrit word Hararatri or the Night or Hara (another name of Lord Shiva).
  • It is one of the biggest festivals of Kashmiri Pandits.
  • The festival is marked by a night of praying followed by a day of feasting.
  • Specialty:
  • At the end of the religious ceremonies, the day is observed as ‘Salaam’, i.e. celebrations with the Muslim brethren in Kashmir.
  • During such festival’s shops run by Muslims provides paraphernalia (items used for performing puja) for puja.
  • Temporary stalls by Muslim vendors will sell local fish and Trout, which is preferred by the pundits during the occasion.

 

  1. Mirza Ghalib
  • Why he is in news? On International Mother Language Day, Kolkata government offered tributes to him.
  • Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was born in Agra in 1797 and died in Delhi in 1869.
  • He is one of the greatest Urdu poets of all time.
  • He was well known for Urdu Ghazals
  • Though he is a poet, he also wrote prose, known as Qate Burhan which is one of the literary differences he had with other poets.
  • Important works: Charagh-e Dair, Kutoot-e-Ghalib (collection of Ghalib’s writings)

 

  • Term Bank
  1. Deep Fake Technology
  • Deep fake technology was used during the Delhi assembly elections by a political party for campaigning purposes.
  • Deep fake = deep learning + fake.
  • It uses artificial intelligence to manipulate videos or other digital representations that yield fabricated images and sounds that appear to be real.

 

Prelims Practice Question

  • Which of the following statements about the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), established in 1989 by G-7, is incorrect?
  • It is an inter-governmental policy making body.
  • Its mandate covers setting international standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • It does not deal with proliferation of weapons of mass destruction which are dealt by the UNSC and multi-lateral export control regimes.
  • It works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

 

  • How is National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) different from Central drugs standard control organization (CDSCO)?
  1. NPPA is an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs, whereas the CDSCO is responsible for approval of New Drugs, Clinical Trials in the country.
  2. NPPA functions under the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, whereas CDSCO works under the ministry of health and family welfare.

Select the correct answer using the code below:

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both
  • None

 

  • Consider the following statements with respect to Central Government's 'Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)' Scheme:
  1. The scheme would provide an annual grant of Rs 6,000 to farmers through DBT in three installments of Rs 2.000 each.
  2. The scheme will benefit 120 million farmers with cultivable land of up to 2 acres.
  3. The scheme has also incorporated the component of insurance.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1 2 and 3

 

X. Daily Mains Capsule (General Essay)

Do you think the upcoming general elections can be a litmus test for the recent supreme court order on politicians with criminal background? Justify

 

Approach:

 

·       Start your answer with a stand on whether you agree with the statement or not

·       Brief the order of supreme court

·       Write the intensity of the problem with statistics

·       Write in detail various issues involved in implementing it

·       Conclude the answer justifying your stand in first paragraph

 

 

 

 

 

 

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