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Daily Current Affairs – 17th Dec. 2020

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 17th Dec. 2020. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

Plea in SC for uniform divorce, alimony rules

Context:

The Supreme Court while expressing great caution has agreed to examine a plea to frame uniform guidelines on divorce, maintenance and alimony for all religions.

Details:

  • The petitioner argued that divorce, maintenance and alimony laws in certain religions discriminated and marginalised women.
  • The anomalies, varying from one religion to another, were violative of the right to equality (Article 14 of the Constitution) and right against discrimination (Article 15) on the basis of religion and gender and right to dignity.
  • The petitioner called for the laws on divorce, maintenance and alimony to be “gender-neutral and religion-neutral”.
  • The petitioner also made references to Uniform Civil Code.

Concern:

  • The bench opined that framing uniform guidelines could also mean the destruction of personal laws itself.

Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

  • A Uniform Civil Code means that all sections of the society irrespective of their religion shall be treated equally according to a national civil code, which shall be applicable to all uniformly.
  • It covers areas like marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance, adoption and succession of property.
  • It is based on the premise that there is no connection between religion and law in modern civilization.
  • The term, ‘Uniform Civil Code’ is explicitly mentioned in Part 4, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Article 44 says, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

ECONOMY

India goes down two ranks in Human Development Index

Context:

United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI) 2019.

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Details:

  • India dropped two ranks in the HDI standing at 131 out of 189 countries.
  • However, if the Index were adjusted to assess the planetary pressures caused by each nation’s development, India would move up eight places in the ranking, according to the report.
  • For the first time, the UNDP introduced a new metric to reflect the impact caused by each country’s per-capita carbon emissions and its material footprint, which measures the amount of fossil fuels, metals and other resources used to make the goods and services it consumes.
  • India’s gross national income (GNI) per capita on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP), too, fell.
  • India’s HDI value for 2019 is 0.645, which put the country in the medium human development category.
  • Between 1990 and 2019, India’s HDI value increased from 0.429 to 0.645, an increase of 50.3%.
  • Norway topped the index, followed by Ireland and Switzerland. Hong Kong and Iceland complete the top five.
  • India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Cambodia, Kenya, and Pakistan were ranked under countries with medium human development with a rank in between 120 and 156 among the 189-countries.

Human Development Index

  • The HDI measures average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development:
  1. Life expectancy
  2. Education
  3. Per capita income

Note:

  • The report was upbeat about India’s green energy initiatives.
  • Solar capacity in India increased from 2.6 gigawatts in March 2014 to 30 gigawatts in July 2019, achieving its target of 20 gigawatts four years ahead of schedule.
  • In 2019, India ranked fifth for installed solar capacity.

BIOTECHNOLOGY

Vaccine hesitancy

Context:

An online survey has shown that as the country readies to implement its COVID-19 vaccination programme, vaccine hesitancy could be an issue that the government needs to address forthwith.

  • The results showed that there was considerable hesitation even among the medical community to take the vaccine as soon as it is available.

What’s the Concern?

A vaccine is one of the essential weapons in the armamentarium in our war against the pandemic. Any hesitation in accepting the vaccine will have a negative consequence on our effort to control the pandemic.

Need of the hour:

  1. Proactively address the reasons behind this hesitancy.
  2. Give confidence to the public by discussing the robustness of various processes involved in drug/vaccine development — clinical trial designs, conduct, monitoring, analysis, reporting and the regulatory reviews that happen before it is approved.
  3. This will make the public aware about the rigorous processes followed for clinical trials, and the approval, as followed by regulators.
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Vaccine Hesitancy: A generation at risk

  • Vaccine hesitancy is defined by WHO as a “delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services”.
  • It was one of 10 threats to global health this year.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

U.S. puts India on ‘currency manipulators’ monitoring list

Context:

The U.S. Treasury has added India in its Currency Manipulator Watchlist.

Details:

  • It has labelled Switzerland and Vietnam as “currency manipulators”.
  • It said that in the year through June 2020 Switzerland and Vietnam had intervened heavily in currency markets to prevent effective balance of payments adjustments.
  • It now added India to its watch list.
    • The watch list comprises countries it suspects of taking measures to devalue their currencies against the dollar.
  • With three new additions, the watch list has hit 10.
    • They are Taiwan, Thailand, India, China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, Singapore and Malaysia.
  • The U.S. said that India and Singapore had also intervened in the foreign exchange market in a sustained, asymmetric manner but did not meet other requirements to warrant designation as manipulators.
    • India breached the first and the third benchmarks.
    • On the second, on a four-quarter basis, the country’s current account surplus remained below the threshold level.

Treasury’s criteria

  • To be labelled a currency manipulator by the U.S. Treasury, countries must at least have:
    1. A $20 billion-plus bilateral trade surplus with the U.S.
    2. Foreign currency intervention exceeding 2% of the gross domestic product.
    3. A global current account surplus exceeding 2% of GDP.

Note:

  • While India had been included in the watch list in 2018, it was removed in 2019.

Implications for India:

  • The surge of global liquidity added by global central banks have led to strong inflows into emerging economies like India.
  • In the past, a sudden appreciation in the rupee had led to disruptive corrections. To prevent this sudden appreciation, the RBI has absorbed a large chunk of forex inflows.
  • With India on the watchlist, it could lead to RBI being somewhat guarded on aggressive forex intervention.

MISCELLANEOUS

Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS)

Context:

The AICTE has decided to release the instalment of Rs. 20,000/- as maintenance allowance under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS).

About the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS):

  • Under the PMSSS, the youths of J&K and Ladakh are supported by way of scholarship in two parts namely the academic fee & maintenance allowance.
  • The scheme is under the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
  • The scheme is being implemented in the wake of the Expert Group that was constituted by the Prime Minister in 2010 for enhancing employment opportunity among the youths of J&K and Ladakh.
  • The Scheme aims to build the capacities of the youths of J&K and Ladakh by Educating, Enabling and Empowering them to compete in the normal course.
  • The academic fee covers tuition fee and other components as per the ceiling fixed for various professional, medical and other under-graduate courses.
  • In order to meet expenditure towards hostel accommodation, mess expenses, books & stationery etc., a fixed amount of Rs.1.00 Lakh is provided to the beneficiary and is paid in instalments @ Rs. 10,000/- per month directly into the student’s account.

Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU)

Context:

CEO, Prasar Bharati elected Vice President of ABU.

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Details:

  • Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati has been elected the Vice President of the ABU. 

About Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU):

  • The ABU was established in 1964 as a non-profit, non-governmental, non-political, professional association with a mandate to assist the development of broadcasting in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • ABU promotes the collective interests of television and radio broadcasters as well as key industry players and facilitates regional and international media cooperation.
  • It is a member of the World Broadcasters’ Union and works closely with the other regional broadcasting unions on matters of common concern such as reserving frequencies for broadcasters, harmonisation of operating and technical broadcasting standards and systems and finalising the Broadcasting Treaty.
  • Currently, the ABU has over 260 members in over 70 countries on four continents.
  • It is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

National Hydrology Project

Context:

Union Minister of Jal Shakti reviews progress made under National Hydrology Project in its mid-term.

National Hydrology Project:

  • The National Hydrology Project (NHP) was started in 2016 as a Central Sector Scheme with 100% grant to implementing agencies on a pan-India basis with a budget outlay of Rs 3680 Crore to be spent over a period of 8 years.
  • The project aims at improving the extent, reliability and accessibility of water resources information and to strengthen the capacity of targeted water resource management institutions in India.
  • Thus, the NHP is facilitating the acquisition of reliable information efficiently which would pave the way for an effective water resource development and management.
  • Under the Project, the National Water informatics Centre (NWIC) has been established, which is a nationwide repository of water resources data.
  • NHP will improve and expand hydrology data and information systems, strengthen water resources operation and planning systems, and enhance institutional capacity for water resources management.
  • The project will thus strengthen the information base and institutional capacity for evidence-based decision making in water resources planning and operational management at the basin scale across India using the latest technology and tools.

CMS-01 satellite

  • It is a communication satellite launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on board the PSLV-C50.
  • CMS-01 is a communications satellite envisaged for providing services in extended C Band of the frequency spectrum.
  • Its coverage will include the Indian mainland, and the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands, ISRO said.
  • The satellite is expected to have a life of more than seven years.

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