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Daily Current Affairs – 15th Dec. 2020

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 15th Dec. 2020. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

Model code of conduct

Context:

The State Election Commission (SEC) has sought an explanation from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the complaint that he had violated the model code of conduct with his announcement that COVID-19 vaccination will be provided free of cost to everyone in the State.

  1. A decision will be taken on the matter after studying his explanation.

Model Code of Conduct(MCC):

What is MCC?

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These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.

  1. This is in keeping with Article 324 of the Constitution, which mandates EC to conduct free and fair elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.

Aim: To ensure free and fair elections.

When it comes into force?

So far, the Model Code of Conduct came into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.

Status:

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The need for such code is in the interest of free and fair elections. However, the code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect. It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.

Evolution:

The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time. This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.

What it contains?

The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.

Enforcement:

The EC has devised several mechanisms to take note of the violation of the code, which include joint task forces of enforcement agencies and flying squads. The latest is the introduction of the cVIGIL mobile app through which audio-visual evidence of malpractices can be reported.

MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)

Context:

Members of all parties have unanimously asked the government to release funds for the projects sanctioned in 2018 and 2019, which were under way before the funds were suspended due the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. In their representations, the MPs had argued that the funds become more critical during the pandemic.

Background:

The Union government had resorted to Disaster Management Act to suspend the member of Parliament local area development (MPLAD) scheme in April this year.

About MPLAD scheme:

  1. Launched in December, 1993.
  2. Seeks to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.
  3. The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India.
  4. The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.

Special focus:

  1. MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
  2. In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakh is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.

Release of Funds:

  1. Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
  2. The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
  3. The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
  4. The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme.
  5. The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.
  6. At least 10% of the projects under implementation in the district are to be inspected every year by the district authority.

Recommendation of works:

  1. The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies.
  2. The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected.
  3. Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.

International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) Act, 2019

Background:

  • The Union Budget 2020 saw Union Minister of Finance announce setting up of an International Bullion Exchange at the International Financial Services Centre in GIFT City, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Context:

  • The International Financial Services Centre Authority (IFSCA) has said that it has notified bullion exchange regulations, paving the way for setting up the entire ecosystem for bullion trading, including bullion exchange, depository, clearinghouse.
  • The regulations inter alia cover the Bullion Exchange, Clearing Corporation, Depository and Vaults.

Details:

  • Government of India had notified the bullion spot delivery contract and bullion depository receipt (with bullion as underlying) as financial products and related services as financial services under the International Financial Services Centre
  • Gujarat-headquartered IFSCA has been authorised to regulate all financial services at IFSCs.

Significance

  • A move that could lead to better price discovery of gold, create more jobs and enhance India’s position in the global bullion market.
  • GIFT City would set up an international bullion exchange as an additional option for trade by global market participants.

GEOPHYSICAL

What makes the Geminids meteor shower unique?

Context:

The Geminids meteor shower, believed to be the strongest of the year, is active from December 4-December 20, with December 13 and 14 considered to be the best nights for viewing these meteor showers.

What are meteor showers?

  1. Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.
  2. Meteor showers are witnessed when Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by a comet or an asteroid.

Why is the Geminid meteor shower considered to be the best of the year?

The Geminids meteor showers are unique because their origin does not lie in a comet, but what is believed to be an asteroid or an extinct comet. The Geminids emerge from 3200 Phaethon, which meteor scientists consider to be an asteroid.

The asteroid is over 5 km in diameter and was named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, the son of Sun god Helios.

  1. According to NASA, the Geminids rate will be better this year because the shower’s peak overlaps with a nearly new moon, which means there will be darker skies and no moonlight to wash out the fainter meteors.

What Are The Differences Between An Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite?

  1. Asteroid: A relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.
  2. Comet: A relatively small, at times active, object whose ices can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.
  3. Meteoroid: A small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun.
  4. Meteor: The light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.
  5. Meteorite: A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands upon the Earth’s surface.

HEALTH

Govt. to use poll roll data to allot COVID-19 vaccine

COVID operational guidelines were released by the Health Ministry recently.

Accordingly:

  1. The COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system, a digitised platform, will be used to track the enlisted beneficiaries and the COVID-19 vaccines on a real-time basis.
  2. The latest electoral roll for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections will be used to identify the priority population over the age of 50.
  3. At the vaccination site, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated in accordance with the prioritisation, and there will be no provision for on-the-spot registrations.
  4. Vaccine will be offered first to healthcare workers, frontline workers and to persons above 50, followed by persons younger than 50 with associated co-morbidities based on the pandemic situation, and finally to the remaining population based on the disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.
  5. The priority group of above 50 years may be further subdivided into those above 60 and those between 50 to 60 years for purposes of a phased roll-out, based on the pandemic situation and vaccine availability.

Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

Context:

The National Health Agency (NHA) has released its data on “The role of private hospitals”. Key findings:

  1. Patients seeking care at private hospitals tend to be older and a larger share consist of men compared with those seeking medical care at public hospitals.
  2. Private hospitals account for over half of the empanelled hospitals, nearly two-thirds of claim volumes, and three-quarters of claim outlays in the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
  3. The top PM-JAY packages by value — including knee replacement, cataracts, haemodialysis and cardiovascular surgeries — are overwhelmingly provided by private hospitals.
  4. Over 72% of private empanelled hospitals are located in just seven States: Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka.

Challenges and Concerns:

  1. Medical audits have also revealed that private hospitals are more likely to indulge in fraud and abuse than public hospitals and more likely to discharge patients early post-surgery to cut costs.
  2. Ensuring the accountability of private hospitals to provide efficient and high-quality care is a pre-eminent challenge for scheme implementation.
  3. There is huge State-wise variation in the share of empanelled private hospitals from less than 25% in most of the northeastern and hill States to 80% in Maharashtra.
  4. Private hospitals have fewer beds than public hospitals and are more likely to be empanelled for surgical packages and super-specialties.

What needs to be done?

Offering a robust public sector alternative in the form of high-performing government hospitals serving as a market anchor will be one element of such an approach.

Key Features of PM-JAY:

  1. The world’s largest health insurance/ assurance scheme is centrally sponsored and is jointly funded by both the central government and the states.
  2. It provides cover of 5 lakhs per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization across public and private empaneled hospitals in India.
  3. Coverage: Over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable entitled families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) are eligible for these benefits.
  4. Provides cashless access to health care services for the beneficiary at the point of service.

Eligibility:

  1. No restrictions on family size, age or gender.
  2. All pre–existing conditions are covered from day one.
  3. Covers up to 3 days of pre-hospitalization and 15 days post-hospitalization expenses such as diagnostics and medicines.
  4. Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country.
  5. Services include approximately 1,393 procedures covering all the costs related to treatment, including but not limited to drugs, supplies, diagnostic services, physician’s fees, room charges, surgeon charges, OT and ICU charges etc.
  6. Public hospitals are reimbursed for the healthcare services at par with the private hospitals.

‘Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India’

Context:

NITI Aayog has released a white paper: Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India with the vision:

  1. To make India’s public health surveillance system more responsive and predictive to enhance preparedness for action at all levels.
  2. Citizen-friendly public health surveillance system will ensure individual privacy and confidentiality, enabled with a client feedback mechanism.
  3. Improved data-sharing mechanism between Centre and states for better disease detection, prevention, and control.
  4. India aims to provide regional and global leadership in managing events that constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

Focus of the paper and Significance:

  1. It contributes by suggesting mainstreaming of surveillance by making individual electronic health records the basis for surveillance.
  2. Public health surveillance (PHS) is an important function that cuts across primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of care. Surveillance is ‘Information for Action’.
  3. It envisions a citizen-friendly public health system, which will involve stakeholders at all levels, be it individual, community, health care facilities or laboratories, all while protecting the individual’s privacy and confidentiality.’
  4. The white paper lays out India’s vision 2035 for public health surveillance through the integration of the three-tiered public health system into Ayushman Bharat.
  5. It also spells out the need for expanded referral networks and enhanced laboratory capacity.
  6. The building blocks for this vision are: An interdependent federated system of governance between the Centre and states, a new data-sharing mechanism that involves the use of new analytics, health informatics, and data science including innovative ways of disseminating ‘information for action’.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

San Isidro Movement (MSI): Cuba

Why in News

The Movimiento San Isidro started two years ago and has now become a platform for Cuban dissidents both within and outside the nation.

Key Points

  • Background:
    • The Movimiento San Isidro, or the San Isidro Movement (MSI), started two years ago (2018) to protest state censorship of artistic work through Decree 349.
    • Decree 349 is a law that would have given powers to the Cuba’s Government to restrict cultural activity it did not approve of.
    • To protest against the decree, artists, poets, journalists and activists gathered in San Isidro, a Black-majority locality that is among Havana’s poorest yet most culturally active regions.
  • Current Spark:
    • A member of the MSI, Afro-Cuban rapper Denis Solís, was arrested by the police. This led to widespread protests and strikes.
  • Global View:
    • Various National government and International human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have raised concern for human rights in Cuba.
    • Cuban diaspora in many countries continue to hold rallies in support of the movement.
  • The Cuban Government Stand:
    • The Cuban government alleges that the movement is funded by USA and are being used to subvert the state.

India Cuba Relations

  • India shares close, warm and historical relations with Cuba and both countries are founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.
  • In 1959, the Cuban-Argentinean guerrilla commander Ernesto Che Guevara paid a diplomatic visit to India and was welcomed by the then Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • In 2019, India supported the resolutions in the UN General Assembly calling for lifting of US sanctions against Cuba.
  • India and Cuba agreed to collaborate in the areas of Biotechnology, Homeopathy and the traditional system of medicine during the visit of the President of India to Cuba in 2019.

MISCELLANEOUS

Black Fungus

  1. Also called as Mucormycosis or zygomycosis.
  2. It is a serious but rare fungal infection.
  3. Caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes which exist in the environment.
  4. Mucormycosis mainly affects people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness.
  5. The symptoms are face numbness, one-side nose obstructions or swelling of eyes, or pain.
  6. Early detection and treatment can help.

Why in News?

Occurrence of Covid triggered mucormycosis with high morbidity and mortality.

Himgiri

What’s in News?

Himgiri, stealth frigate has been launched into the water.

  • It is the first of the three stealth frigates being built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata.
  • It is being built under Project 17A for the Navy.

P17 A Ships:

  • P17A ships will be the most advanced state-of-the-art guided missile frigates once inducted.
  • P17A ships have been indigenously designed by Directorate of Naval Design (Surface Ship Design Group) – DND (SSG), and are being built at indigenous yards namely Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and GRSE.
  • Fincantieri of Italy is the know-how provider for technology upgrade and capability enhancement in this project.

Note:

  • In Goa, the fifth and last of the offshore patrol vessels (OPV) in the series Saksham being built at Goa Shipyard was launched into water.
  • It is expected to be delivered to the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) by October 2021.
  • ‘Saksham’ is a part of the indigenous project launched by the Prime Minister in November 2016.
  • OPVs will be used for protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone of territorial water of the Nation.

Saksham

  1. It is the 5th and the last Offshore Patrol Vessel designed and built by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) for Indian Coast Guard.
  2. Launched recently.
  3. These OPVs will form a formidable part of the Coast Guard Fleet and used for protection of Exclusive Economic Zone of territorial water of the Nation.

Gujarat to get 30,000 MW renewable energy park

What’s in News?

Prime Minister of India will lay the foundation stone for what is billed as the world’s largest hybrid renewable energy park in Gujarat’s Kutch district.

  • The park will generate 30,000 MW power through solar panels and windmills on 72,600 hectares along the India-Pakistan border.
  • The park will have dedicated zones for wind and solar energy storage as well as an exclusive zone for wind park activities.
  • It is being set up by the Gujarat government with the participation of private players such as the Adani Group (country’s largest renewable power generator), and Suzlon (a dominant player in wind energy).

Note:

Desalination plant at Mandvi, Kutch:

  • To meet the growing demand for water, Gujarat has turned to harnessing its vast coastline, taking steps to transform seawater to potable drinking water with the upcoming desalination plant at Mandvi, Kutch.
  • The plant, will have a capacity of 10 crore litres a day (100 MLD).
  • It would strengthen water security in Gujarat by complementing the Narmada Grid, the Sauni network and the treated waste-water infrastructure.
  • This is one of the five desalination plants the government plans to set up along the coastal regions of Kutch and Saurashtra.

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