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Daily Current Affairs – 07th Jan. 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 07th Jan 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

SC to study anti-conversion laws of Uttarakhand and U.P.

Context:

  • The Supreme Court without issuing a stay has agreed to examine the constitutional validity of laws enacted by certain States that appear to infringe upon a person’s right to marry a person of choice.

Details:

  • Several states such as Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have passed legislations that criminalise religious conversion via marriage and mandate prior official clearance before marrying into another faith, while a few other states have hinted at coming up with such legislations in the near future.
  • The implementation of the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018, has resulted in the disruption of inter-faith marriages, creating an atmosphere of fear and hate.

Draconian law:

  • The state legislations have been criticized by several legal experts for they undermine human dignity and autonomy.
  • The prospect of taking prior permission and the responsibility to carry the burden of proof stating that they were not marrying to convert hasn’t gone down well with legal experts and the civil society.
  • The guilty under these laws will have to serve a 10-year prison sentence. The offences are non-bailable.
  • However, the Bench, which asked the petitioners to go to the respective State High Courts with their challenge, did not stay the implementation of the laws.
  • The laws concerned blatantly violate the fundamental rights of dignity and liberty enshrined under Article 21 in Part three of the Constitution.
  • The state governments have gone ahead in enacting such laws even when the Supreme Court through its series of judgments, including in the Hadiya case, had underlined that the right to marry a person of one’s choice was part of an adult’s privacy.

Conclusion:

  • These laws will disrupt peace and harmony, and create fear and hate in society.
  • A series of Supreme Court verdicts underline that the choice of a life partner, whether by marriage or outside it, was part of an individual’s “personhood and identity”.

ECONOMY

China surging ahead, says NITI Aayog.

Context:

  • The NITI Aayog officials opine that China has been recovering well in the aspects of trade flows, financial markets, etc.

Details:

  • To discuss the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Standing Committee on Finance has been set up.
  • The committee has been mandated to view the developments on the global economy, trade flows and financial markets.
  • It has been found that the Chinese had been recovering well, inching well ahead of India and also at a rate that is bridging the gap between China and the USA in the post-pandemic era.
  • The officials however did not give any specific details about the current economic state of India.

State of the global economy:

  • A NITI Aayog official said the global economy was going through a similar phase like the one it witnessed post the first world war.
  • The NITI Aayog officials were quizzed if the pandemic had turned out to be a critical point in the global supply chain and if there was any evidence to suggest if China would persist as the factory of the world.
  • The officials in response replied that China had been doing well on the economy front, and it was fast narrowing the gap with the USA.
  • China has adapted itself better than most other countries to the post-pandemic era.

The reforms suggested:

  • India has to initiate reforms that are deep-rooted similar to the one witnessed during the 1991 reforms.
  • With reference to the current state of the Indian economy, it was said that India should focus on becoming an export-based economy.

HEALTH

Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1, India Report

Context:

Union Health Minister releases the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1, India Report.

What is LASI?

  • LASI is a full–scale national survey of scientific investigation of the health, economic, and social determinants and consequences of population ageing in India.
  • Who conducted LASI?
    • It has been undertaken by the National Programme for Health Care of Elderly (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare) through the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS, Mumbai) in collaboration with Harvard School of Public Health, University of Southern California, USA, Dte.GHS, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and National Institute on Ageing.
  • The LASI, Wave 1 covered a baseline sample of 72,250 individuals aged 45 and above and their spouses including 31,464 elderly persons aged 60 and above and 6,749 oldest-old persons aged 75 and above from all States and Union Territories (UTs) of India (excluding Sikkim).
  • Significance:
    • It is India’s first and the world’s largest-ever survey that provides a longitudinal database for designing policies and programmes for the older population in the broad domains of social, health, and economic well-being.
    • The evidence from LASI will be used to further strengthen and broaden the scope of the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly and also help in establishing a range of preventive and health care programmes for the older population.
    • It is important because the 60+ population accounted for 8.6% of India’s population according to the 2011 Census.
    • Growing at around 3% annually, the number of elderly age population will rise to 319 million in 2050, and around 75% of them suffer from one or the other chronic disease.

Status of Avian Influenza in the country

Context:

Avian Influenza (bird flu) outbreak in several states in India.

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Background:

  • Avian Influenza (AI) viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century.
  • India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006.
  • Infection in humans is not yet reported in India though the disease is zoonotic.
  • There is no direct evidence that AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products.
  • Implementing management practices that incorporate biosecurity principles, personal hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection protocols, as well as cooking and processing standards, are effective means of controlling the spread of the AI viruses.
  • In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months, from September – October to February – March. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out.
  • In view of a threat of the global outbreak of AI, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) had prepared an action plan in 2005 which was revised in 2006, 2012, 2015 and 2021 for the guidance of State Governments for the prevention, control and containment of avian influenza.
  • Following the post-operation surveillance plan (POSP) after completion of Avian Influenza outbreak control in 2020 and containment operation at different epicentres, the country was declared free from AI w.e.f. 30th September 2020.

Present Fresh Outbreak:

  • After confirmation of positive samples from ICAR-NIHSAD, AI has been reported from the following States (at 12 epicentres) –
    • Rajasthan (crow) – Baran, Kota, Jhalawar
    • Madhya Pradesh (crow) – Mandsaur, Indore, Malwa
    • Himachal Pradesh (migratory birds) – Kangra
    • Kerala (poultry-duck) –  Kottayam, Alappuzha (4 epicentres)
  • The states are taking measures for containment and control including the culling of birds.
  • DAHD has also set up a control room in New Delhi to keep watch on the situation and to take stock on a daily basis of preventive and control measures undertaken by State authorities.
  • Measures suggested to states to control the disease and prevent further spread include:
    • Strengthening the biosecurity of poultry farms
    • Disinfection of affected areas
    • Proper disposal of dead birds/carcasses
    • Timely collection and submission of samples for confirmation and further surveillance
    • Intensification of surveillance plan
    • General guidelines for prevention of disease spread from affected birds to poultry and human
    • Coordination with forest department for reporting any unusual mortality of birds
  • Other states were also asked to keep a vigil on any unusual mortality among birds.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy

Context:

The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy released on Jan 1.

  • It could be game-changers for not just the scientific research community, but also for the way ordinary Indians interact with Science.

What is the overall philosophy behind the policy?

  • Unlike previous STI policies which were largely top-driven in formulation, the 5th national STI policy (STIP) follows core principles of being decentralised, evidence-informed, bottom-up, experts-driven, and inclusive.

Overall objectives:

  1. To position India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade to come.
  2. To attract, nurture, strengthen, and retain critical human capital through a people-centric STI ecosystem.
  3. To double the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) researchers, gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) and private-sector contribution to GERD every five years.
  4. To build individual and institutional excellence in STI with the aim of reaching the highest levels of global recognition and awards in the coming decade.

Key components:

  1. It proposes an Open Science Framework, with free access for all to findings from publicly funded research.
  2. One Nation, One Subscription: The idea is to democratise science by providing access to scholarly knowledge to not just researchers but to every individual in the country.
  3. It suggests modification or waiver of General Financial Rules (GFR), for large-scale mission mode programmes and projects of national importance.

It has made recommendations such as:

  1. Mandatory positions for excluded groups in academics; 30% representation of women in selection/evaluation committees and decision-making groups.
  2. Addressing issues related to career breaks for women by considering academic age rather than biological/physical age.
  3. A dual recruitment policy for couples; and institutionalisation of equity and inclusion by establishing an Office of Equity and Inclusion, etc.

What are the learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic for India’s science and technology sector? How does the draft policy address those learnings?

In India, the pandemic presented an opportunity for R&D institutions, academia, and industry to work with a shared purpose, synergy, collaboration and cooperation, which helped the country develop the capability to produce these kits in record time.

  • The STIP draft focuses on the need to adopt such learnings for greater efficiency and synergy in future.

INFRASTRUCTURE

National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)

Context:

FM reviews NIP as part of infra spending push.

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  • The NIP has been expanded from 6,385 projects at the time of its introduction a year ago, to more than 7,300 projects, and is making progress despite the pandemic.

About NIP:

  • In the budget speech of 2019-2020, Finance Minister announced an outlay of Rs 100 lakh Crore for infrastructure projects over the next 5 years.
  • NIP is a first-of-its-kind initiative to provide world-class infrastructure across the country and improve the quality of life for all citizens.
  • It will improve project preparation, attract investments (both domestic & foreign) into infrastructure, and will be crucial for attaining the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by FY 2025.
  • Covers both economic and social infrastructure projects.

Important recommendations and observations made by Atanu Chakraborty taskforce:

  1. Investment needed: Rs 111 lakh crore over the next five years (2020-2025) to build infrastructure projects and drive economic growth.
  2. Energy, roads, railways and urban projects are estimated to account for the bulk of projects (around 70%).
  3. The centre (39 percent) and state (40 percent) are expected to have an almost equal share in implementing the projects, while the private sector has 21 percent share.
  4. Aggressive push towards asset sales.
  5. Monetization of infrastructure assets.
  6. Setting up of development finance institutions.
  7. Strengthening the municipal bond market.

MISCELLENOUS

Foundation stone laid for ‘New Anubhava Mantapa’

Context:

  • Karnataka Chief Minister laid the foundation stone for the ‘New Anubhava Mantapa’ in Basavakalyan.

Details:

  • Basavakalyan is an important pilgrim centre for Lingayats, the place where 12th-century poet-philosopher Basaveshwara lived for most of his life.
  • A project to highlight the teachings of Basaveshwara (an icon of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community) was first proposed back in 2016.

Grand structure:

  • The New Anubhava Mantapa is projected to be a six-floor structure in a 7.5 acres plot and it embodies the principles Basaveshwara’s philosophy stood for.
  • The new structure will exhibit the 12th Century Anubhava Mantapa (often referred to as the “first Parliament of the world”) established by Basaveshwara in Basavakalyan.
  • The Anubhava Mantapa housed numerous discussions, deliberations and debates amongst several philosophers and social reformers.
  • The building will adopt the Kalyana Chalukya style of architecture.

Kamdhenu Gau-Vigyan Prachar-Prasar Exam

  • Announced by Rastriya Kamdhenu Aayog.
  • The exam has been initiated for raising mass awareness about Indigenous cows among young students and all citizens.
  • It will also help make study materials about cow science available.
  • It will be conducted in four categories, primary, secondary, college and general public levels.
  • The exam will be in Hindi, English and 12 regional languages.
  • There will be no fee for taking the exam.

Toycathon-2021

  • This is a special kind of hackathon where students and teachers from schools and colleges, design experts, toy experts and start-ups will get together to crowd source ideas for developing toys and games that are based on Indian culture and ethos, local folklore and heroes, and Indian value systems.
  • It is an inter-ministerial initiative. The participating agencies are the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women & Child Development, the Ministry of Textiles, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, DPIIT, Ministry of MSME, Innovation Cell (Education Ministry) and the AICTE.

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