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Daily Current Affairs – 14th Dec. 2020

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 14th Dec. 2020. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

Delimitation should be based on 2031 Census:

Context:

A paper released by the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation (PMF) on the eve of the late President’s birth anniversary has suggested that the next delimitation exercise should be a two-step process:

  1. Delimitation Commission should be set up to redraw boundaries of constituencies on the basis of the 2031 Census.
  2. State Reorganisation Act be passed to split States into smaller ones.

Background:

The 84th Amendment to the Constitution in 2002 had put a freeze on the delimitation of Lok Sabha and State Assembly constituencies till the first Census after 2026. While the current boundaries were drawn on the basis of the 2001 Census, the number of Lok Sabha seats and State Assembly seats remained frozen on the basis of the 1971 Census.

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Need for reconsideration:

The population according to the last census preceding the freeze was 50 crore, which in 50 years has grown to 130 crore. This has caused a massive asymmetry in the political representation in the country.

What is Delimitation?

Delimitation literally means the process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a state that has a legislative body.

Who carries out the exercise?

Delimitation is undertaken by a highly powerful commission. They are formally known as Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission.

  1. These bodies are so powerful that its orders have the force of law and they cannot be challenged before any court.
  1. Such commissions have been constituted at least four times in India — in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952; in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962; in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and last in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
  2. The commissions’ orders are enforced as per the date specified by the President of India. Copies of these orders are laid before the Lok Sabha or the concerned Legislative Assembly. No modifications are permitted.
Composition of the Commission:

According to the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002, the Delimitation Commission appointed by the Centre has to have three members: a serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court as the chairperson, and the Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner nominated by the CEC and the State Election Commissioner as ex-officio members.

Withdraw plea on water use, Centre tells Telangana:

Context:

The Centre has said that it would consider referring (under Section 3 of the Inter State River Waters Disputes Act) the matter for reallocation of Krishna waters between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh either to a new tribunal or to the existing Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar, once Telangana withdrew its petition on the issue in the Supreme Court.

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What’s the issue?

The Telangana government has filed a special leave petition (SLP) in Supreme Court seeking a direction to Andhra Pradesh government not to go ahead calling tenders for the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme.

  1. The government maintains that under the provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, proposal for any new project on Krishna has to be first placed before the Krishna River Management Board and then before the Apex Council for ratification.

Background:

The two States- AP ans Telangana- share stretches of the Krishna and the Godavari and own their tributaries.

  1. They have embarked on several new projects without getting clearance from the river boards, the Central Water Commission and the apex council comprising the Union Water Resources Minister and the Chief Ministers, as mandated by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

The Krishna:

It is an east-flowing river.

Originates at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and merges with the Bay of Bengal, flowing through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Basin: Together with its tributaries, it forms a vast basin that covers 33% of the total area of the four states.

What is the dispute all about?

The dispute began with the erstwhile Hyderabad and Mysore states, and later continuing between successors Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

In 1969, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up under the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, 1956, and presented its report in 1973.

The report, which was published in 1976, divided the 2060 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of Krishna water at 75 per cent dependability into three parts:

  1. 560 TMC for Maharashtra.
  2. 700 TMC for Karnataka.
  3. 800 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.

Revised order:

As new grievances arose between the states, the second KWDT was instituted in 2004.

  1. It delivered its report in 2010, which made allocations of the Krishna water at 65 per cent dependability and for surplus flows as follows: 81 TMC for Maharashtra, 177 TMC for Karnataka, and 190 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.

After the creation of Telangana as a separate state in 2014, Andhra Pradesh is asking to include Telangana as a separate party at the KWDT and that the allocation of Krishna waters be reworked among four states, instead of three.

It has challenged the order of the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal in the Supreme Court.

PM SVANidhi

Context

  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched a programme of Socio-Economic Profiling of PM SVANidhi beneficiaries and their families

Details

  • Under this, a complete profile of each PM SVANidhi beneficiary and their family members will be prepared.
  • Based on the profiled data, benefits of the various eligible Central Schemes would be extended to them for their holistic socio-economic upliftment.

Background

  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is implementing Prime Minister Street Vendors AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme, with an objective to provide affordable working capital loan up to ?10,000 to Street Vendors for facilitating the resumption of their livelihoods adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Chang’e-5 probe:

Context:

Chinese spacecraft carrying rocks and soil from the moon has begun its journey back to Earth, putting China on course to become the first country to successfully retrieve lunar samples since the 1970s.

What Next?

A successful landing in Inner Mongolia would make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union.

The plan was to collect 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of samples, although it has not been disclosed how much was actually gathered.

Background:

The Chang’e-5 was launched on Nov. 24 and a lander vehicle touched down on the moon on Dec. 1. The mission was expected to take around 23 days in total.

The objective of the mission was to bring back lunar rocks, the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from the moon in four decades.

About Chang’e-5 probe:

It is an unmanned spacecraft by China. The probe is named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess.

The rocket comprises of four parts: an orbiter, a returner, an ascender and a lander.

The Chang’e-5 mission is expected to realize four “firsts” in China’s space history:

  1. The first time for a probe to take off from the surface of the Moon.
  2. The first time to automatically sample the lunar surface.
  3. The first time to conduct unmanned rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit.
  4. The first time to return to Earth with lunar soil samples in escape velocity.

ENVIRONMENT

India is on track to reduce emissions:

Context:

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that India was the only major G20 country that was on track towards keeping to its nationally determined commitments to halt runaway global warming.

  1. It had achieved 21% of its emissions intensity reduction target as a proportion of its GDP in line with its pledge to a 33-35% reduction by 2030.

Background:

These remarks were made ahead of the international Climate Ambition Summit to be jointly hosted shortly by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy to mark the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC):

In 2015, ahead of the United Nations’ significant climate conference in Paris, India announced three major voluntary commitments called the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC):

  1. Improving the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33–35% by 2030 over 2005 levels.
  2. Increasing the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40% by 2030.
  3. Enhancing its forest cover, thereby absorbing 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The Paris Agreement:

  1. The Paris Agreement, adopted at COP 21 in Paris, on December 12, 2015, constitutes a landmark agreement on climate change that seeks to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and endeavour to limit the increase to 1.5°C.
  1. The agreement, which came into force on November 4, 2016, currently has 188 parties.
  2. All parties to it are expected to undertake ambitious efforts to support the agreement’s goals and communicate their related intentions every five years in the form of NDCs.
  3. In the first round, 186 parties submitted their first NDC and two have since submitted a second one.

HEALTH

Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System:

  1. It is a cross-sector initiative to develop a citizens’ roadmap to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in India over a period of ten years.
  1. It was launched recently.
  2. It was a first-of-its-kind participatory, countrywide initiative, in collaboration with world’s leading health journal The Lancet and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.
  3. The mission of the Commission is to lay out the path to achieving UHC in India in the coming decade, working with all stakeholders.

The Commission will be guided by four principles: first, UHC covers all health concerns; secondly, prevention and long-term care are key. Thirdly, the concern is financial protection for all health costs, and finally, aspiring for a health system that can be accessed by all who enjoy the same quality.

Eluru ‘mystery’ illness

Context

  • Eluru a city located in Andhra Pradesh has been affected by a mysterious illness.

Symptoms

  • Reported symptoms include headache, vomiting, dizziness, convulsions, seizures, nausea, anxiety, loss of consciousness and other neurological symptoms

What could have contributed to the sickness?

The cause is currently unknown but it is being investigated.

  • The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi found traces of lead and nickel in blood samples
  • Nickel was detected during the preliminary investigation in milk samples collected from Eluru.
  • Primary suspicion is on water contamination by heavy metals.
    • Scientists suspect that pesticide or insecticide has seeped into drinking water sources.
  • Samples from local fish were collected
  • The district administration and Eluru Municipal Corporation officials are also investigating if excessive use of bleaching powder and chlorine in sanitation programmes as part of Covid-19 prevention measures caused water contamination.

Action taken by the Government

  • The West Godavari district administration has deployed medical teams to monitor residents in the town and nearby areas affected by the mystery illness.
  • The medical and relief teams have conducted household surveys to check the condition of people

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Shifting the Rohingya to Bhashan Char

Context:

  • The Bangladesh government’s move to relocate Rohingyas to the newly built facility at Bhashan Char island has attracted widespread attention.
  • There are reports that UN human rights investigator has issued a request to the Government of Bangladesh to permit a safety assessment of the Bhashan Char.

Details:

  • There have been questions over the relocation of the Rohingya refugees and their safety of the refugees on the island.

Bhashan Char

  • Bhashan Char is a 13,000 acre expanse land, it will be more accurate to refer to it as a mudflat than as an island.
  • The mudflat is formed by the accumulation of silt where the river Meghna meets the Bay of Bengal carrying rich alluvial deposits.
  • Located near the mouth of the river Meghna where it flows into the Bay of Bengal, Bhasan Char surfaced only in 2006 from the sediment deposited by the river.
  • ‘Char’ refers to shifting landmass, it is a recurrent feature of rivers Meghna and Padma.

Relocation

  • There have been critics who were unhappy with the move to relocate Rohingyas into Bhashan Char islands without adequate planning and necessary infrastructure.
  • There have been reports that the consent for relocation was not considered
  • The Government of Bangladesh has in the last couple of years gone about constructing roads and building telecommunication infrastructure on the island.
  • Residential units have been built after taking precautionary measures such as building it four feet above the ground to prevent the housing facilities from being inundated by tidal waves and withstand the impact of such waves.

Why relocate?

  • Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar in 2017 have been made to live in refugee camps near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
  • These refugee camps lie in the Kutupalong region, a region that is heavily forested and known for wildlife populations of elephants, tigers and other animals.
  • Safety and better living conditions in the Bhashan Char islands are the reasons given by Bangladesh for relocating the Rohingya refugees.

Human Right agencies concerns

  • Amnesty International has called for the dropping of the relocation plan as the UN hasn’t yet declared the site to be safe for relocation.
  • The consent of the refugees before the relocation process was not considered.

MISCELLANEOUS

Myristica swamp treefrog:

  1. It is a rare arboreal species endemic to the Western Ghats.
  2. They are active only for a few weeks during their breeding season.
  3. Before the end of the breeding season, the female frogs along with their male counterparts descend on the forest floor.
  4. The female digs the mud and lays eggs in shallow burrows in mud. After breeding and egg-laying, they retreat back to the high canopies of the tree and remain elusive till next breeding season.
Myristica swamp treefrog
Myristica swamp treefrog

Context:

It has been recorded for the first time north of the Shencottah gap in the Vazhachal Reserve Forest in Kerala’s Thrissur district.

Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve:

Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve can now be explored by boats while bicycle tracks are also being finalised. One can go trekking too. But the new activities are beyond the 1,302 sq km Kaziranga’s core area of 482 sq km.

Key Facts:

  1. It is a national park in Assam.
  2. Formed in 1908 on the recommendation of Mary Curzon, the park is located in the edge of the Eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspots – Golaghat and Nagaon district.
  3. It hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses.
  4. It is a World Heritage Site.
  5. It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for the conservation of avifaunal species.
  6. Much of the focus of conservation efforts in Kaziranga are focused on the ‘big four’ species— Rhino, Elephant, Royal Bengal tiger and Asiatic water buffalo.
  7. Kaziranga is crisscrossed by four main rivers — Brahmaputra, Diphlu, Mora Diphlu and Mora Dhansiri.

International Bharathi Festival

Context

  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed International Bharathi Festival 2020 through video conferencing which was organised by Vanavil Cultural Centre to celebrate the 138th birth anniversary of Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi.
  • Scholar Shri Seeni Viswanathan received the  Bharathi  Award for the year 2020.

Subramanya Bharathi

  • Popularly known as “Mahakavi Bharathi”, he was a Tamil writer, poet, journalist, Indian independence activist, social reformer and polyglot.
  • He fought for the emancipation of women, against child marriage, stood for reforming Brahminism and religion.

His work as a Journalist

  • Bharati, as a young man began his career as a journalist and as a sub-editor in “Swadesamitran” in 1904.
  • He brought out a weekly, “India” in May 1906. It declared as its motto the three slogans of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
  • “India” was the first paper in Tamil Nadu to publish political cartoons

Strong willed social reformer

  • Bharati was against casteism. He undertook several revolutionary measures challenging orthodoxy, by adorning many Dalits in Tamil Nadu with the upanayana (sacred thread).
  • Bharati advocated and ensured entry of Dalits into temples.

Champion of gender justice

  • He visualised ‘woman’ as Shakti or Power. Bharati also brought out a front cover for the magazine, “Chakravarthini”, in 1906, which focussed mainly on the empowerment of Indian women.
  • He also advocated and campaigned for women to participate in politics, their rights and education.

Bharathi Award

  • It was instituted in 1994 by Vanavil Cultural Centre.
  • Every year it is being conferred on eminent persons who have done laudable service in any field of social relevance and thus worked towards the fulfilment of Bharathi’s dreams.

Invest in vaccine literacy

What’s in News?

With a COVID-19 vaccine seemingly just round the corner in India, experts opine that vaccine literacy is the key to building public trust.

  • Vaccine literacy is an important aspect in vaccine roll-out which often does not get the attention it deserves.
  • Before a new vaccine is introduced it is essential to build the confidence of people which is only possible by openness and transparency in sharing critical data.
  • It is suggested that it is essential to engage civil society organisations in a dialogue. They could be instrumental in disseminating information to the people at large.

It is suggested that it could be done in three ways:

  • By maintaining absolute transparency in vaccine trial data results and adverse events.
  • Rigorous surveillance through smart testing and tracing strategies as they form the bedrock for a vaccination campaign.
  • By ensuring that the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) and the regulator are composed of independent persons with significant technical experience who do not have relation with the vaccine company or anyone who can influence.

More females per 1,000 males in Assam, reveals survey report

What’s in News?

The National Family Health Survey for the 2019-20 fiscal (NFHS-5) has revealed that the sex ratio in Assam is now skewed in favour of females.

Key findings:

  • According to NFHS-5, Assam saw 1,012 females born during 2019-2020 per 1,000 males. The sex ratio in 2015-16 was 993 females per a thousand males.
  • The data collected shows improvement in neonatal and infant mortality rates, birth and death registrations, maternity care, delivery care and child vaccination, access to electricity, sanitation, drinking water and clean fuel for cooking.
  • The State recorded a jump in insurance coverage and children attending schools too.
  • The total fertility rate, however, dipped from 2.2 children per woman in NFHS-4 to 1.9.
  • The survey found more children aged 6-59 months were anaemic or with low haemoglobin count than five years ago.

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