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Daily Current Affairs – 19th Dec. 2020

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 19th Dec. 2020. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

SC finds HC order on A.P. govt. ‘disturbing’

Context:

The Supreme Court has stayed an Andhra Pradesh High Court order intending to embark on a judicial enquiry into whether there is a constitutional breakdown in the State machinery under the Jagan Mohan Reddy government, requiring a declaration of President’s rule.

What’s the issue?

High Court, on October 1, while deciding habeas corpus petitions filed by relatives of persons remanded in judicial custody or on bail, had suo motu summoned the State counsel to assist it in deciding “whether in circumstances prevailing in the State of Andhra Pradesh, the court can record a finding that there is constitutional breakdown in the State or not”.

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What has the Supreme Court said?

  1. It was not up to the High Court to enquire and recommend President’s rule in a State.
  2. It is Article 356 that deals with failure of constitutional machinery in a State. This is a power [to impose President’s rule] exclusively vests in the Executive.

Observation by the state government:

  1. The High Court’s observation violated the Basic Structure doctrine of the Constitution.
  2. The constitutional courts do not have any judicially discoverable and manageable standards to determine if there has been a constitutional breakdown.
  3. This is a serious encroachment on the powers of the executive as enumerated under the Constitution and is thus violative of the doctrine of separation of powers.

What is President’s Rule in the Indian context?

Article 356 of the Constitution of India gives President of India the power to suspend state government and impose President’s rule of any state in the country if “if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”.

  1. Upon the imposition of this rule, there would be no Council of Ministers. The Vidhan Sabha is either dissolved or prorogued.
  2. The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to head the proceedings, representing the President of India – who is the Head of the State.
  3. The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament.
  4. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.

Revocation:

  1. A proclamation of President’s Rule may be revoked by the President at any time by a subsequent proclamation. Such a proclamation does not require parliamentary approval.

Parliamentary panel calls for migrant workers’ database

Context:

The standing committee on Home Affairs has released its report “Management of COVID-19 pandemic and related issues”.

Key Recommendations:

  1. A national database of migrant workers should be collated at the earliest to ensure that if ever there is a repeat of a COVID-19-like pandemic, the relief measures should reach the intended beneficiaries.
  2. The database should have details of the source State, the destination State, skill set of the worker and other contact details.
  3. The Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 — the two guiding laws during the pandemic — are insufficient.
  4. Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 should be reviewed. The Act is outdated as it was framed in the colonial era, which was even well before the Spanish flu of 1918.

Need for a database:

During the extended lockdown, the task of identifying the location and disbursing relief measures to the migrant workers became difficult as the Central government did not have any data of the migrant workers. In the absence of a comprehensive national database, it is difficult to extend the relief measures by the government to the intended beneficiaries.


ECONOMY

Government exploring setting up bad bank, all other options

Context:

The government is exploring all options, including setting up of a bad bank, to improve the health of the country’s banking sector, Economic Affairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj said recently.

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Need for:

It is not just necessary but unavoidable in the present circumstances when NPAs are likely to balloon and much of the resolution will have to take place outside the IBC framework.

Concept of Bad Bank:

  1. A bad bank is a bank set up to buy the bad loans and other illiquid holdings of another financial institution.
  2. The entity holding significant nonperforming assets will sell these holdings to the bad bank at market price.
  3. By transferring such assets to the bad bank, the original institution may clear its balance sheet—although it will still be forced to take write-downs.

Why be concerned about bad loans?

  1. Indian banks’ pile of bad loans is a huge drag on the economy.
  2. It’s a drain on banks’ profits. Because profits are eroded, public sector banks (PSBs), where the bulk of the bad loans reside, cannot raise enough capital to fund credit growth.
  3. Lack of credit growth, in turn, comes in the way of the economy’s return to an 8% growth trajectory. Therefore, the bad loan problem requires effective resolution.

Benefits:

  1. This helps banks or FIs clear-off their balance sheets by transferring the bad loans and focus on its core business lending activities.
  2. Large debtors have many creditors. Hence bad bank could solve the coordination problem, since debts would be centralised in one agency.
  3. It can effect speedier settlements with borrowers by cutting out individual banks.
  4. It can drive a better bargain with borrowers and take more stringent enforcement action against them.
  5. It can raise money from institutional investors rather than looking only to the Government.

What are the Concerns or demerits of such banks?

Suppose, say for example, a bank sells bad loans. Then, it has to take a haircut because when Rs 100 goes bad, the actual amount that can be expected is lower than Rs 100 and that leads to haircut. When it takes haircut that will impact the P&L (Profit & Loss).

So, till that particular aspect is not addressed, creating a new structure may not be as potent in addressing the problem.


SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

DRDO systems handed over to Armed Forces

Context:

Defence Minister handed over three indigenously developed Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) systems to Army, Navy and Air Force.

Systems handed over include:

  1. Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS) – Navy
  2. ASTRA Mk-I Missile – Air Force
  3. Border Surveillance System (BOSS) – Army

Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS)

  • The IMSAS is state-of-the-art, fully indigenous, high performance intelligent software system that provides Global Maritime Situational Picture, marine planning tools and analytical capabilities to the Indian Navy.
  • The system provides Maritime Operational Picture from Naval HQ to each individual ship in sea to enable Naval Command and control (C2).
  • The system was conceptualised by the Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru and the Navy.
  • It was developed by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bengaluru.

ASTRA Mk-I

  • It is the indigenously developed first Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile, which can be launched from Sukhoi-30, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Mig-29 and Mig-29K.
  • The weapon system is developed by the Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad and produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), Hyderabad.

Border Surveillance System (BOSS)

  • It is an all-weather electronic surveillance system.
  • The system has been deployed at Ladakh border area for day and night surveillance.
  • The system facilitates monitoring and surveillance by automatically detecting the intrusions in harsh high-altitude sub-zero temperature areas with remote operation capability.
  • Designed and developed by Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun.
  • It is being produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Machilipatnam.

ENVIRONMENT

India mulls E20 fuel to cut vehicular emissions

Context:

The government has proposed the adoption of E20 fuel as an automobile fuel.

E20 fuel:

  • E20 fuel is a blend of 20% of ethanol and gasoline.
  • Ethanol is a biofuel and a common by-product of biomass left by agricultural feedstock such as corn, sugarcane, hemp, potato, etc.
  • It is produced mainly from molasses, a byproduct of sugar manufacture.
  • Ethanol is basically alcohol of 99%-plus purity, which can be used for blending with petrol.

Significance:

  • The notification facilitates the development of E20-compliant vehicles.
  • Adoption of E20 fuel will be instrumental in cutting down vehicular emissions.
  • It will help in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, etc.
  • It will also help in cutting down the country’s oil import bill, thereby saving foreign exchange and boosting energy security.
  • It would extend support to the agricultural sector as well as provide additional income to farmers.

Details:

  • The current permissible level of blending is 10% of ethanol.
  • India reached only 5.6% of blending in 2019.
  • The proposal also called for the display of compatibility of vehicles with the percentage of ethanol (to be defined by the vehicle manufacturer) in the blend with a sticker.

Note: The National Policy on Bio-fuels has set a target of 20% blending of biofuels, both for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol.


MISCELLANEOUS

U.S. cyberattack is widening: Microsoft

What’s in News?

According to researchers, the devastating cyberattack on U.S. government agencies has also hit targets worldwide, with the list of victims still growing.

  • This has heightened the fears over computer security and espionage.
  • It was said that while the majority of the victims were from the US, victims were also in Belgium, Britain, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
  • It was pointed out that the cyberattack represents an act of recklessness that created a serious technological vulnerability for the United States and the world.

Boko Haram

Boko Haram is a violent Islamist insurgent group that has spread from northeast Nigeria to neighbouring West African nations of Niger, Chad and Cameroon in the Lake Chad Basin.

Why in News?

344 abducted Nigerian boys freed by Boko Haram.

Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

  1. Launched by Modi in September 2019 at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York, US.
  2. A platform where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure.
  3. It will create a mechanism to assist countries to upgrade their capacities and practices, with regard to infrastructure development in accordance with their risk context and economic needs.

What is the ‘Christmas Star’ conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter?

After nearly 400 years, Saturn and Jupiter the two largest planets in our solar system will be brought closest in the night sky by an astronomical event called the “great conjunction” and popularly referred to as the “Christmas Star”.

So, what is the “Great Conjunction”?

  1. A conjunction is not unique to Saturn and Jupiter however, it is the name given to any event where planets or asteroids appear to be very close together in the sky when viewed from the Earth.
  2. Astronomers use the word “great” for the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn because of the planets’ sizes.

The “Great Conjunction” happens once in about 20 years because of the time each of the planets take to orbit around the Sun.

Goa’s Liberation Day

Context:

Goa Liberation Day is observed on December 19 every year in India and it marks the day the Indian armed forces freed Goa in 1961 following 450 years of Portuguese rule

Skill India

Context:

Skill India establishes First Centre of Excellence for Skill Development in Power Sector.

Details:

  • This Centre of Excellence (CoE) has been established in Gwal Pahari, Gurugram (Haryana).
  • It is the result of an MoU signed earlier between India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Ministry of Education-France and Schneider Electric.
  • There are two labs set up by Schneider Electric in the CoE.
  • Advance Electrician Lab: Equipped with specially designed instruments for training in home and building, and industry installation and automation.
  • Solar Lab: To provide hands on practical training on the latest technology in the solar area.

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You have made it to the end of today’s current affairs.

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