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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 21 October 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 21 October 2019


Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

  1. Azad Hind Government.

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. Indian Penal Code.
  2. Removal of State Chief Information Commissioner. 
  3. Anthrax.
  4. Interpol.
  5. IMF Quotas.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. DNA technology Bill.
  2. Definition of forest.

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
  2. What are meteor showers? Why they happen on an annual basis?
  3. Thylacine.
  4. Bhashan char Island.

 


 

GS Paper 1:

 

Topics covered:

  1. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Azad Hind Government

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Particulars of Azad Hind Government- objectives, accomplishments and other related key facts.

 

Context: 76th anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Government on 21st October, 2019.

 

About Azad Hind Government:

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had announced the establishment of the provisional government of Azad Hind in occupied Singapore in 1943.

  1. Known as Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind, it was supported by the Axis powers of Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, the Italian Social Republic, and their allies.
  2. With this, Bose had launched a struggle to free India from British rule under the banner of the provisional government-in exile during the latter part of the Second World War.

 

Why was it set up?

Bose was convinced that armed struggle was the only way to achieve independence for India. Under his provisional government, the Indians living abroad had been united.

The Indian National Army drew ex- prisoners and thousands of civilian volunteers from the Indian expatriate population in Malaya (present-day Malaysia) and Burma (now Myanmar).

 

The formation:

October 21, 1943: Announced the setting up of the provisional government on the battlefield of Singapore which was once the bulwark of the British Empire.

Under the provisional government:

  1. Bose was the head of the state, the prime minister and the minister for war and foreign affairs.
  2. Captain Lakshmi headed the women’s organisation.
  3. S A Ayer headed the publicity and propaganda wing.
  4. Rash Behari Bose was designated as the supreme advisor.

The provisional government was also formed in the Japanese-occupied Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The islands were reoccupied by the British in 1945.

 

How it came to an end?

Bose’s death was seen as the end to the Azad Hind movement. The Second World War, also ended in 1945 with the defeat of the Axis powers.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

GS Paper 2:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

Indian Penal Code

 

What to study?

For Prelims: What is IPC? How was it brought about? Key provisions.

For Mains: Why it needs a review? Areas of concern and reforms needed.

 

Context: The Home Ministry is all set to overhaul the Indian Penal Code designed by the British. Rebooting the code introduced by the British in 1860 was necessary as it is primarily based on the spirit of “master and servant”.

 

Efforts to overhaul:

  1. Recently the Ministry wrote to all States and Union Territories seeking suggestions to amend various sections of the IPC.
  2. Two committees comprising legal luminaries have also been constituted by the Ministry.

 

What is IPC?

The IPC replaced Mohammedan Criminal Law, which had a very close relationship with Islam. Thus, the IPC laid the foundation of secularism.

It was widely appreciated as a state-of-the-art code and was, indeed, the first codification of criminal law in the British Empire.

 

How significant it is?

Today, it is the longest serving criminal code in the common-law world.

  • Paying a compliment to Macaulay’s masterpiece, James Stephen had remarked that “The Indian Penal Code is to the English criminal law what a manufactured article ready for use is to the materials out of which it is made. It is to the French Penal Code and, I may add, to the North German Code of 1871, what a finished picture is to a sketch.
  • Today, most of the commonwealth follows the IPC and legislators would find it difficult to improve it in terms of precision, comprehensibility, comprehensiveness and accessibility.

 

Why it needs a review?

IPC, 1860 requires a thorough revision to meet the needs of the 21st century. In 1860, the IPC was certainly ahead of the times but has been unable to keep pace since then.

  1. Macaulay had himself favoured regular revision of the code whenever gaps or ambiguities were found or experienced.
  2. Even though the IPC has been haphazardly amended more than 75 times, no comprehensive revision has been undertaken in spite of the 42nd report of the law commission in 1971 recommending it — the amendment bills of 1971 and 1978 lapsed due to the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
  3. Most amendments have been ad hoc and reactive, in response to immediate circumstances like the 2013 amendment after the Delhi gangrape case.

 

Areas that need reforms:

Some of the concepts underlying the code are either problematic or have become obsolete.

  1. A re-examination of the sedition law, inserted in 1898, is necessary.
  2. The offence of blasphemy should have no place in a liberal democracy and, therefore, there is a need to repeal Section 295A, which was inserted in 1927.
  3. Criminal conspiracy was made a substantive offence in 1913. The offence is objectionable because it was added to the code by the colonial masters to deal with political conspiracies. 
  4. Under Section 149 on unlawful assembly, the principle of constructive liability is pushed to unduly harsh lengths.
  5. The distinction between “culpable homicide” and “murder” was criticised even by Stephen as the “weakest part of the code”, as the definitions are obscure.
  6. Sexual offences under the code reveal patriarchal values and Victorian morality. Though the outmoded crime of adultery gives the husband sole proprietary rights over his wife’s sexuality, it gives no legal protection to secure similar monopoly over the husband’s sexuality.
  7. Section 377 also needs a review.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Removal of State Chief Information Commissioner 

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Who is CIC and ICs? Roles and functions, composition of CIC.

For Mains: Criticisms surrounding functioning of CIC, need for transparency enhancement and measures needed.

 

Context: Nine Karnataka information commissioners ask Governor to suspend their chief.

 

Why?

Nine commissioners have charged chief information commissioner N C Srinivasa with high-handedness and taking decisions unilaterally.

 

Removal of State Chief Information Commissioner or State Information Commissioner:

  • Subject to the provisions of sub-section (3), the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner shall be removed from his office only by order of the Governor on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the Governor, has on inquiry, reported that the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner, as the case may be, ought on such ground be removed.
  • The Governor may suspend from office, and if deem necessary prohibit also from attending the office during inquiry, the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner in respect of whom a reference has been made to the Supreme Court under sub-section (1) until the Governor has passed orders on receipt of the report of the Supreme Court on such reference.

Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the Governor may by order remove from office the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner if a State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner, as the case may be:

  1. is adjudged an insolvent; or
  2. has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the Governor, involves moral turpitude; or
  3. engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
  4. is, in the opinion of the Governor, unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or
  5. has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner.
  6. If the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner in any way, concerned or interested in any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the Government of the State or participates in any way in the profit thereof or in any benefit or emoluments arising therefrom otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company, he shall, for the purposes of sub-section (1), be deemed to be guilty of misbehaviour.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

 

Anthrax

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Anthrax- causes, effects, symptoms and prevention, location of Pobitora sanctuary.

 

Context: Anthrax scare at Assam’s Pobitora sanctuary after death of 2 buffaloes Asiatic Water Buffaloes.

 

What is anthrax?

A disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a germ that lives in soil.

Affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people. People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides.

Spread: It does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes.

 

Symptoms & Infection:

Respiratory infection in humans initially presents with cold or flu-like symptoms for several days, followed by pneumonia and severe (and often fatal) respiratory collapse.

Gastrointestinal (GI) infection in humans is most often caused by consuming anthrax-infected meat and is characterized by serious GI difficulty, vomiting of blood, severe diarrhea, acute inflammation of the intestinal tract, and loss of appetite.

Cutaneous anthrax, also known as Hide porter’s disease, is the cutaneous (on the skin) manifestation of anthrax infection in humans.

 

Treatment:

  • The standard treatment for anthrax is a 60-day course of an antibiotic. Treatment is most effective when started as soon as possible.
  • Although some cases of anthrax respond to antibiotics, advanced inhalation anthrax may not. By the later stages of the disease, the bacteria have often produced more toxins than drugs can eliminate.

 

Use in Bioterrorism:

Anthrax has been used in biological warfare by agents and by terrorists to intentionally infect. It was spread in US through a mail. It killed 5 people and made 22 sick.

 

Facts for prelims:

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary has the highest concentration of one-horned rhinos in the world.

Asiatic water buffalo is the state animal of Chhattisgarh.

Asian buffalo is a large bovine native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It has been listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List since 1986, as the remaining population totals less than 4,000.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Interpol

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Composition, objectives and functions of Interpol.

 

Context: The Central Bureau of Investigation will host the 91st General Assembly of Interpol in 2022 as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of India’s Independence.

 

What is Interpol?

  • The International Criminal Police Organisation, or Interpol, is a 194-member intergovernmental organisation.
  • headquarteredin Lyon, France.
  • formed in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission, and started calling itself Interpol in 1956.
  • India joined the organisation in 1949, and is one of its oldest members.
  • Interpol’s declared global policing goals include countering terrorism, promoting border integrity worldwide, protection of vulnerable communities, providing a secure cyberspace for people and businesses, curbing illicit markets, supporting environment security, and promoting global integrity.

 

What is the Interpol General Assembly?

  1. It is Interpol’s supreme governing body, and comprises representatives from all its member countries.
  2. It meets annuallyfor a session lasting approximately four days, to vote on activities and policy.
  3. Each country is represented by one or more delegates at the Assembly, who are typically chiefs of law enforcement agencies.
  4. The Assembly also elects the members of the Interpol Executive Committee, the governing body which “provides guidance and direction in between sessions of the Assembly”.

 

Assembly Resolutions:

The General Assembly’s decisions take the form of Resolutions.

Each member country has one vote. 

Decisions are made either by a simple or a two-thirds majority, depending on the subject matter.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Topics covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

IMF Quotas

 

What to study?

For Prelims: All about IMF Quotas, about IMF.

For Mains: Need for reforms.

 

Context: As per the latest deal, Members of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to maintain its funding at $ 1 trillion but postponed changes to its voting structure.

 

Outcomes of the recent meet:

  • The deal is a compromise with the U.S., the Fund’s largest shareholder, which has resisted changes to the organisation’s voting structure as well as increases in its permanent resource base.
  • It will allow an extension of non-permanent, supplementary sources of funds – such as the New Arrangement to Borrow (NAB), a renewable funding mechanism that has existed since 1998, and bilateral borrowings from countries – the IMF had entered into these after the 2008 financial crisis to increase its lending ability.
  • The agreement extended the bilateral borrowing facility by a year – to the end of 2020 and a potential doubling of the NAB.

 

Impact:

Specifically, the agreed package will leave IMF quotas (the primary source of IMF funds), which determine voting shares, unchanged. Instead, these will be reviewed before the end of 2023.

 

What are IMF Quotas?

The IMF is a quota-based institution. Quotas are the building blocks of the IMF’s financial and governance structure.

  • An individual member country’s quota broadly reflects its relative position in the world economy. Quotas are denominated in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), the IMF’s unit of account.

 

How is it determined?

IMF quotas are distributed according to a four pronged formula that considers a member country’s GDP, its economic openness, its “economic variability” and international reserves.

 

Multiple roles of quotas:

Resource Contributions: Quotas determine the maximum amount of financial resources a member is obliged to provide to the IMF.

Voting Power: Quotas are a key determinant of the voting power in IMF decisions. Votes comprise one vote per SDR100,000 of quota plus basic votes (same for all members).

Access to Financing: The maximum amount of financing a member can obtain from the IMF under normal access is based on its quota.

SDR Allocations: Quotas determine a member’s share in a general allocation of SDRs.

 

Quota reviews:

The IMF’s Board of Governors conducts general quota reviews at regular intervals.

Any changes in quotas must be approved by an 85% majority of the total voting power, and a member’s own quota cannot be changed without its consent.

 

Need for reforms:

  1. Some IMF members have become frustrated with the pace of governance reforms, as the balance of economic and geopolitical power has shifted, becoming more dispersed across the world, particularly with the emergence of China and India – among the world’s largest and fastest growing economies.
  2. India’s quota is 2.76% and China’s is 6.41%, while the U.S.’s quota is 17.46 % (translates to a vote share of 16.52%) giving it a unique veto power over crucial decisions at the IMF, many of which require a supermajority of 85%.
  3. The U.S. has resisted diluting its share, wary that it will benefit countries such as China.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


 

GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

DNA technology Bill

 

What to study?

For Prelims: DNA Bill- highlights, difference between DNA and RNA.

For Mains: DNA profiling- uses, challenges and concerns.

 

Context: The DNA Technology Regulation Bill, which seeks to control the use of DNA technology for establishing the identity of a person, has been referred to a parliamentary standing committee for examination.

 

Need for the legislation and its significance:

The utility of DNA based technologies for solving crimes, and to identify missing persons, is well recognized across the world. Therefore, the new bill aims to expand the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country.

 

Highlights of the Bill:

  1. As per the Bill, national and regional DNA data banks will be set up for maintaining a national database for identification of victims, suspects in cases, undertrials, missing persons and unidentified human remains.
  2. Punishment: According to it, those leaking the DNA profile information to people or entities who are not entitled to have it, will be punished with a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh. Similar, punishment has also been provided for those who seek the information on DNA profiles illegally.
  3. Usage: As per the bill, all DNA data, including DNA profiles, DNA samples and records, will only be used for identification of the person and not for “any other purpose”.
  4. The bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between personswho have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
  5. The Bill establishes a DNA Regulatory Board to accredit the DNA laboratories that analyse DNA samples to establish the identity of an individual.

 

Benefits of the Bill:

  1. By providing for the mandatory accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories, the Bill seeks to ensure that with the proposed expanded use of this technology in the country.
  2. There is also the assurance that the DNA test results are reliable and the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.

 

DNA technology- significance:

  1. DNA analysis is an extremely useful and accurate technology in ascertaining the identity of a person from his/her DNA sample, or establishing biological relationships between individuals.
  2. A hair sample, or even bloodstains from clothes, from a scene of crime, for example, can be matched with that of a suspect, and it can, in most cases, be conclusively established whether the DNA in the sample belongs to the suspected individual. As a result, DNA technology is being increasingly relied upon in investigations of crime, identification of unidentified bodies, or in determining parentage.
  3. It is expected that the expanded use of DNA technology would result not only in speedier justice delivery but also in increased conviction rates, which at present is only around 30% (NCRB Statistics for 2016).

 

 

Concerns:

Prone to misuse: Information from DNA samples can reveal not just how a person looks, or what their eye colour or skin colour is, but also more intrusive information like their allergies, or susceptibility to diseases. As a result, there is a greater risk of information from DNA analysis getting misused.

Safety issues: There’s also the question of whether the DNA labs accredited by the Regulatory Board are allowed to store copies of the samples they analyse. And if so, how the owners of those samples can ensure the data is safe or needs to be removed from their own indices.

Issues over storage: It’s not clear if DNA samples collected to resolve civil disputes will also be stored in the databank (regional or national), although there is no index specific for the same. If they will be stored, then the problem cascades because the Bill also does not provide for information, consent and appeals.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Definition of forest

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Definition and procedure to define forests.

For Mains: Concerns over the way in which forests are defined, need for a comprehensive definition and challenges involved.

 

Context: Centre clarifies on definition of forest.

 

Clarifications given by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Environment Ministry:

States need not take the Centre’s approval to define what constitutes unclassified land as forest.

 

Do we have a comprehensive legal definition for forest?

Since 2014, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has been considering evolving a legal definition of forest and reportedly prepared drafts as late as 2016. These, however, were never made public.

 

How is a forest defined?

The freedom to define land, not already classified as forests by the Centre or State records, as forest has been the prerogative of the States since 1996 and stems from a Supreme Court order, called the Godavarman judgment.

  • The Supreme Court judgment expanded the definition of forest to include lands that were already notified by the Centre as forests, that appear in government records as forests as well as those that fell in the “dictionary definition” of forest.
  • The latter clause allows the States to evolve their own criteria and define tracts of land as forest, and these would then be bound by forest conservation laws.

 

Why it is difficult to have an all-encompassing definition of forest?

An all-encompassing definition of forest is difficult for India because the country has 16 different kinds of forest.

A tract of grassland in one State might qualify in one region as forest, but not in another. However, once a State applied a criteria, it couldn’t be reversed.

The onus on the States to define forests is also significant because the States often claim that they are helpless in preventing encroachment because a patch of land in question hadn’t been notified as forest. A recent instance was the felling of trees in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, which officially isn’t classified as forest.

 

Need for a definition:

  1. India’s definition of forests has been criticised by scientists in the past on the grounds that it doesn’t provide an accurate picture of the extent of biodiversity in rich natural forests.
  2. A technical assessment by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of India’s submission on forest cover has raised concerns about the country’s definition of forests, which experts say exaggerates forest cover and inadvertently masks deforestation.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA):

It is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

Constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation, as per powers and functions assigned to it under the said Act.

Composition: Set up under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests. The Authority will have eight experts or professionals having qualifications and experience in wildlife conservation and welfare of people including tribals, apart from three Members of Parliament of whom two will be elected by the House of the People and one by the Council of States.

Functions of NTCA are as follows:

  1. Ensuring normative standards in tiger reserve management.
  2. Preparation of reserve specific tiger conservation plan.
  3. Laying down annual/ audit report before Parliament.
  4. Instituting State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation.
  5. According approval for declaring new Tiger Reserves.

 

What are meteor showers? Why they happen on an annual basis?

Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.

Meteor showers, on the other hand, are witnessed when Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet or an asteroid. When a meteor reaches the Earth, it is called a meteorite and a series of meteorites when encountered at once, is termed as a meteor shower.

 

Thylacine:

Popularly known as the Tasmanian tiger, it is a large striped carnivore.

Why in News? It was believed to have gone extinct over 80 years ago — but newly released Australian government documents show sightings have been reported as recently as two months ago.

 

Bhashan char Island:

Context: Rohingyas will be relocated to the Bhashan Char from early next month.

Authorities concerned, especially the Bangladesh Navy, have prepared the Bhashan Char for rehabilitation of at least one lakh Rohingyas.

Location: Bhashan Char is located in the estuary of the Meghna river.

It falls in an ecologically fragile area prone to floods, erosion and cyclone.