Home Current AffairsDaily Current Affairs Daily Current Affairs – 16th Dec. 2020

Daily Current Affairs – 16th Dec. 2020

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 16th Dec. 2020. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

SC collegium moots transfer of HC judges

Context:

The Supreme Court collegium has recommended the transfer of judges of several High Courts. The top court’s recommendations are yet to be sent to the Law Ministry.

Collegium System:

  • The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and the apex court are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
  • Note that there is no mention of the Collegium System in the Constitution of India.
  • The recommendations of the names of lawyers or judges are sent by the Collegium to the Central Government. The Central Government does the fact-checking and investigates the names and resends the file to the Collegium.
  • The Collegium considers the names or suggestions made by the Central Government and resends the file to the government for final approval.
  • If the Collegium resends the same name again then the government has to give its assent to the names.
  • However, there is no time limit to reply.

Overseas Citizens of India (OCI)

Context:

Recently, the High Court of Karnataka held that:

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  1. Students under the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) category are to be considered as “citizens of India” for admission to professional courses.

Background:

An appeal was filed by Karnataka state government against the April 2019 single- judge verdict, which had also allowed OCI students to seek admission to professional courses in the regular quota of seats. The state government wants to restrict their admission only under the NRI quota.

Who are OCI cardholders?

  1. Government of India launched the ‘Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme’ by making amendments to Citizenship Act, 1955 in 2005.
  2. On 09 January 2015, the Government of India discontinued the PIO card and merged it with OCI card.

Exceptions:

Anyone who is applying for OCI card should hold a valid Passport of another country.

  1. Individuals who do not have citizenship of any other country are not eligible to gain an OCI status.
  2. Individuals whose parents or grandparents hold citizenship of Pakistan and Bangladesh are not eligible to apply.

Benefits for OCI cardholders:

  1. Lifelong Visa to visit India multiple times. (special permission needed for research work in India).
  2. No need to register with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay.
  3. Except for acquisition of agricultural and plantation properties, OCI card holders have similar facilities that are extended to NRIs in economic, financial and educational fields.
  4. Same treatment as of NRIs in respect to Inter-country adoption of Indian children.
  5. Also treated at par with NRIs regarding – entry fees for national monuments, practice of professions like doctors, dentists, nurses, advocates, architects, Chartered Accountants & Pharmacists.
  6. At par with NRIs to participate in All India Pre-medical tests and such.
  7. Treated at par with Indian citizens in matters of traffic in airfares in Indian domestic sectors.
  8. Same entry fee as for Indians for entry into India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
  9. OCI booklet can be used as identification to avail services. An affidavit can be attached with local address as residential proof.

There are certain restrictions placed on OCI card holders:

  1. Do not have right to vote.
  2. Do not have right to any public service/government jobs
  3. Cannot hold offices of – Prime Minister, President, Vice -President, Judge of Supreme Court and High Court, member of Parliament or Member of state legislative assembly or council.
  4. Cannot own agricultural property.

Why won’t Gulf NRIs get postal voting rights for now?

Context:

The Election Commission has named a few countries where  it would like to have postal voting introduced for NRIs on a pilot basis.

  1. The proposal may get implemented first for voters based in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, and South Africa.

What is the current strength of NRI voters?

According to a UN report of 2015, India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world at 16 million people.

  1. Registration of NRI voters, in comparison, has been very low: a little over 1 lakh overseas Indians registered as voters in India, according to the EC.
  1. In last year’s Lok Sabha elections, roughly 25,000 of them flew to India to vote.
  2. Out of 1.18 lakh NRI voters, the largest number — about 89,000 — are registered to vote in Kerala. The second-largest cohort (roughly 7,500) are registered in Andhra Pradesh.

What is the reason behind the EC leaving out the Gulf countries?

Holding a democratic exercise, involving voters queuing outside Indian Missions and Embassies, in non-democratic countries will require permissions, and the host nation may not approve. Given these concerns, the EC, for now, hasn’t included Gulf countries in its proposed pilot.

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If approved, how will voting by postal ballots work for NRIs?

  1. The EC has proposed that any NRI interested in voting through the postal ballot in an election will have to inform the Returning Officer (RO) not later than five days after the notification of the election.
  2. On receiving such information, the RO will dispatch the ballot paper electronically.
  3. A designated officer in the Indian mission will download the ballot paper on the voter’s behalf, and hand it over to the overseas elector.
  4. The overseas elector can then mark her preference at the mission, get the self-declaration form attested by the designated officer, and hand back the ballot paper and declaration form in a sealed envelope to the mission.
  5. The mission will then dispatch all the envelopes to the election officer concerned.

What is the current process of voting for Indian citizens living abroad?

  1. Voting rights for NRIs were introduced only in 2011, through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act 1950.
  1. An NRI can vote in the constituency in which her place of residence, as mentioned in the passport, is located.
  2. She can only vote in person and will have to produce her passport in original at the polling station for establishing identity.

HEALTH

Vaccine drive

Context:

  • The disclosure of India’s COVID-19 vaccine policy.

Details:

  • The COVID-19 vaccine policy announced by the Government will be at the forefront of tackling the virus.
  • The vaccine drive will hope to diminish the pace at which the virus spreads as there is no conclusive cure available as of today.
  • The vaccine strategy has to be reinforced by a robust mechanism to deliver and also adequate manpower to carry out the vaccination drive.

The blueprint of COVID-19 vaccine policy

  • The scale of vaccination is in gradual steps, with identified beneficiaries to be given preference.
  • The health care workers have been given the first priority as they are the frontline personnel and are exposed to the virus on a very frequent basis and at a proximate distance.
  • The elderly population follows the health care workers, people above the age of 50 are considered under this, with preference being given to those that are aged 60 and above.
  • This first phase of vaccination is expected to cover up to 30 crore people.
  • The electoral roll will be used for identification and verification of the beneficiaries.
  • The COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system — a digitalized platform, will be used to track enlisted beneficiaries for the vaccination and anti-coronavirus vaccines on a real-time basis.
  • The 1.54 lakh Auxillary Nurse Midwives, currently part of the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), will be roped in to be part of the COVID-19 vaccine drive.
  • The vaccination team will consist of five members, each session should be planned for 100 beneficiaries per day.
  • If the session site has adequate logistics and space available for waiting room and observation room along with arrangement for crowd management, one more vaccinator officer can be added to create a session for 200 beneficiaries, the guidelines stated.

Prerequisites to make the policy taste success

  • First and foremost, there has to be confidence and a feeling of assurance towards vaccine safety and efficacy among the people.
  • The summoning of phase-3 data of clinical trials by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) from Bharath Biotech and Serum Institute will help in fighting doubts over the hasty nature of vaccine development.
  • Vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite the availability of vaccine services and this can be a major impediment to the success of the vaccine drive. Thus the regulator needs to ensure that all the safety benchmarks are met before approval.
  • The Government will also have to come up with a roadmap to immunize children.
  • A clear demarcation of roles of the personnel along with a detailed chain of command is quintessential for the success of the programme. Since it is a large scale exercise it will require close coordination with the states.

Way forward

  • There is a need to ensure people receive factual and timely information and updates on vaccine rollout progress and benefits.
  • A mechanism will have to be set up to deal with the public’s anxiety and queries regarding government’s decision for prioritization of vaccine administration and the apprehension about the vaccines introduced after a short trial raising safety concerns.
  • The fear of adverse events, misconception about vaccine efficacy, rumours and negative narrative in media/social media space will have to be managed sensitively to ensure the vaccination drive finds success.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

U.S. imposes CAATSA sanctions on Turkey over S-400 purchase

Context:

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on NATO-ally Turkey for its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system.

Relevance to India:

The issue of sanctions under Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for purchase of Russian arms is of particular interest to India, which is also in the process of buying the S-400 from Moscow.

What is CAATSA?

  • The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia.
  • It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors.

Details:

  • The sanctions comprise:
  • A ban on granting specific U.S. export licences and authorisations for any goods or technology.
  • A ban on loans or credits by U.S. financial institutions totalling more than $10 million in any 12-month period.
  • A ban on U.S. Export-Import Bank assistance for exports and mandated U.S. opposition to loans by international financial organisations to SSB (Turkey’s main defence procurement agency).
  • Sanctions will include full blocking sanctions and visa restrictions on SSB president and other officials.
  • The U.S. Secretary of State asserted that this action sends a clear signal that the United States will fully implement CAATSA Section 231 and will not tolerate significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.

Note:

  • In 2019, the U.S. had removed Turkey from its F-35 jet programme over concerns that sensitive information could be accessed by Russia if Turkey used Russian systems along with U.S. jets.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an have an apparently close relationship and Mr. Trump has pushed back on Congressional demands for sanctions against Turkey.
  • The administration has to now face a $740 million National Defense Authorization Bill (NDAA) 2021 from the U.S. Congress, which mandates sanctions against Turkey within 30 days of the bill’s passage (December 11). Mr. Trump has threatened to veto the bill.

Who are Uighurs?

Context:

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority labourers in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region are being forced to pick cotton through a coercive state-run scheme, a report has said.

  1. This report is likely to heap more pressure on global brands such as Nike, Gap and Adidas, which have been accused of using Uighur forced labour in their textile supply chains.

Background:

  1. Rights activists have said Xinjiang is home to a vast network of extrajudicial internment camps that have imprisoned at least one million people, which China has defended as vocational training centres to counter extremism.

Who are Uighurs?

  1. Uighurs are a Muslim minority community concentrated in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang province.
  2. They claim closer ethnic ties to Turkey and other central Asian countries than to China, by brute — and brutal — force.

Why is China targeting the Uighurs?

Xinjiang is technically an autonomous region within China — its largest region, rich in minerals, and sharing borders with eight countries, including India, Pakistan, Russia and Afghanistan.

  1. Over the past few decades, as economic prosperity has come to Xinjiang, it has brought with it in large numbers the majority Han Chinese,who have cornered the better jobs, and left the Uighurs feeling their livelihoods and identity were under threat.
  2. This led to sporadic violence, in 2009 culminating in a riot that killed 200 people, mostly Han Chinese, in the region’s capital Urumqi. And many other violent incidents have taken place since then.
  3. Beijing also says Uighur groups want to establish an independent state and, because of the Uighurs’ cultural ties to their neighbours, leaders fear that elements in places like Pakistan may back a separatist movement in Xinjiang.

Therefore, the Chinese policy seems to have been one of treating the entire community as suspect, and launching a systematic project to chip away at every marker of a distinct Uighur identity.


MISCELLANEOUS

British PM to be chief guest at Republic Day celebration

What’s in News?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be the chief guest of India’s Republic Day celebrations.

  • U.K. Foreign Secretary highlighted that the Indo-Pacific region was one of the highest focus areas of the U.K.’s foreign policy.
  • He stated that the U.K. and India were working on an “Enhanced Trade Partnership” that would be a stepping stone for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two sides.
  • The future FTA with India was expected to be a part of the post-Brexit British economic plans.

Spike in return of people to Bangladesh

What’s in News?

In the past four years, nearly twice the numbers of illegal Bangladeshi migrants were caught leaving the country compared to those coming in illegally, according to data available with the Border Security Force (BSF) and the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB).

  • The number of persons leaving the country could be more as there are instructions to avoid paperwork and documentation for out-migrants.
  • It is also due to the lack of work following the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.

In 2017, former BSF Director General K.K. Sharma had made it clear that they had instructions to push back the Rohingya to Bangladesh as they become a liability once they are arrested.

DakPay

It is a new digital payment application launched by the Department of Posts and the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB).

  1. DakPay is a suite of digital financial and assisted banking services provided through the postal network to cater to the financial needs of various sections of society, particularly those living in rural areas.
  2. The services include free-of-cost money receipts and transfers at doorsteps, and scanned QR codes, to make payments for a range of utility and banking services.

Himalayan serow

  1. Sighted for the first time in the Himalayan cold desert region (Himachal Pradesh).
  2. Himalayan serow resembles a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig.
  3. It’s a medium-sized mammal with a large head, thick neck, short limbs, long, mule-like ears, and a coat of dark hair.
  4. Categorised as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  5. It is listed under Schedule I of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides absolute protection.

Meghdoot Awards

  • Postal Department confers Meghdoot awards to Postal Employees for their achievements in 2019-20.
  • The Meghdoot Awards were instituted in 1984 to recognise outstanding performance of employees at the national level.
  • The award includes a cash prize of Rs.21000, a gold medallion and a citation.
  • They are given in eight categories.

Swarnim Vijay Varsh

Context:

  • From 16 December 2020, India will be celebrating 50 Years of Indo-Pak War, also called ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’. Various commemorative events are planned across the nation.
  • The inaugural event will be held at the National War Memorial (NWM) in New Delhi.

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