Given below are the daily current affairs for 13th Jan 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.
- POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
SC stays implementation of three controversial farm laws
The Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of three controversial farm laws.
- Farmers have been protesting for months against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
- The farm laws brought the farmers and the government to a confrontation.
- Several rounds of negotiations between the Centre and the farmers had produced no results.
- Senior citizens, women and children among the protesters are exposed to serious health hazards posed by the cold and the spread of COVID-19.
- Due to the stay on the implementation of the laws the Centre cannot, for the time being, proceed with any executive actions to enforce the laws.
- As a consequence of the stay, the Minimum Support Price System shall be maintained until further orders.
- It has directed that the farmers’ landholdings be protected.
- The court formed a four-member committee of experts to listen to the grievances of the farmers on the laws and the views of the government and make recommendations.
- The committee consists of Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee; Dr. Parmod Kumar Joshi, agricultural economist, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices; and Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sanghatana.
- The committee has to start work in 10 days and submit a report to the court in two months.
HC notice to Centre on PIL challenging contempt Act
The Karnataka High Court has ordered issue of notice to the union government on a PIL petition challenging the constitutional validity of a provision of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, that makes “scandalising or tends to scandalising courts” as a ground for contempt.
- All the four petitioners have narrated the proceedings faced by them under the Contempt of Courts Act at different point of time before the High Courts and the apex court.
- A Division Bench passed the order on the petitions filed.
- The petitioners have contended in their present petition that Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act violates the right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and does not amount to a reasonable restriction under Article 19(2).
- It is argued that the Section 2(c)(i) fails the test of overbreadth, abridges the right to free speech and expression in the absence of tangible and proximate harm, and it creates a chilling effect on free speech and expression.
- It is contended that the offence of “scandalising the court” cannot be considered to be covered under the category of “contempt of court” under Article 19(2), claiming that even if Section 2(c)(i) were permissible under the ground of contempt in Article 19(2), it would be disproportionate and therefore unreasonable.
- “The offence of ‘scandalising the court’ is rooted in colonial assumptions and objects, which have no place in legal orders committed to democratic constitutionalism and the maintenance of an open robust public sphere,” the petition said.
Contempt of court:
- Contempt of court is the offence of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers in the form of behaviour that opposes or defies the authority, justice and dignity of the court.
- Contempt of court, as a concept, seeks to protect judicial institutions from motivated attacks and unwarranted criticism, and as a legal mechanism to punish those who lower its authority.
- The law codifying contempt classifies it as civil and criminal.
Urban local bodies reforms
Manipur becomes the 4th state to complete urban local bodies reforms.
- Manipur has become the 4th state in the country to successfully undertake “Urban Local Bodies (ULB)” reform stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.
- Thus, the State has become eligible to mobilise additional financial resources of Rs.75 crore through Open Market Borrowings.
- Manipur has now joined three other states namely, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, who have completed this reform.
- On completion of Urban Local Bodies reform, these four States have been granted additional borrowing permission of Rs.7,481 crore.
Objectives/Need for reforms:
- Reforms in the Urban Local Bodies and the urban utilities reforms are aimed at financial strengthening of ULBs in the states and to enable them to provide better public health and sanitation services. Economically rejuvenated ULBs will also be able to create good civic infrastructure.
The reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure to achieve these objectives are:
- The State will notify –
- Floor rates of property tax in ULBs which are in consonance with the prevailing circle rates (i.e. guideline rates for property transactions)
- Floor rates of user charges in respect of the provision of water-supply, drainage and sewerage which reflect current costs/past inflation.
- The state will put in place a system of periodic increase in floor rates of property tax/user charges in line with price increases.
- To meet the challenges posed by the pandemic, GOI had enhanced the borrowing limit of the states by 2 percent of their GSDP.
- Half of this special dispensation was linked to undertaking citizen centric reforms by the states.
- The four citizen centric areas for reforms identified were:
- Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card System (done by 10 states)
- Ease of doing business reform (done by 7 states)
- Urban Local body/utility reforms (done by 3 states)
- Power sector reforms
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
What is spintronics?
- Spintronic, also known as spin electronics, is the study of the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment, in addition to its fundamental electronic charge, in solid-state devices.
- Spintronics fundamentally differs from traditional electronics in that, in addition to charge state, electron spins are exploited as a further degree of freedom, with implications in the efficiency of data storage and transfer.
- The field of spintronics emerged because of the need for attaining new functionalities in modern electronic devices which has led to the manipulation of the property of an electron called spin degree of freedom along with its charge.
- A phenomenon called the ‘Rashba effect’, which consists of splitting of spin-bands in an electronic system, might play a key role in spintronic devices.
What’s in News?
- Scientists at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali (Punjab), an autonomous institution of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, have produced an ultra-high mobility 2d-electron gas (2DEG) at the interface of two insulating oxide layers.
- Due to the high mobility of the electron gas, electrons do not collide inside the medium for a long distance and hence do not lose the memory and information.
- Hence, such a system can easily remember and transfer its memory for a long time and distance.
- In addition, since they collide less during their flow, their resistance is very low, and hence they don’t dissipate energy as heat.
- So, such devices do not heat up easily and need less input energy to operate.
- The realization of large Rashba-effect at such oxide interfaces containing highly mobile electron gas may open up a new field of device physics, especially in the field of quantum technology applicable for next-generation data storage media and quantum computers.
- The Rashba effect, or Rashba-Dresselhaus effect, is a momentum-dependent splitting of spin bands in two-dimensional condensed matter systems.
- Discovered in 1959, the phenomenon continues to supply fertile ground for fundamental research and applications.
- It provided the basis for the proposal of the spin transistor by Datta and Das in 1990, which has largely inspired the broad and dynamic field of spintronics.
- More recent developments include new materials for the Rashba effect such as metal surfaces, interfaces and bulk materials.
Kayakalp Award Scheme
What is the Kayakalp Award Scheme?
- The award scheme was launched in 2015 to appreciate and recognise the efforts of public health facilities to create a healthy environment.
- The parameters for judging are hospital/facility upkeep, sanitation and hygiene, waste management, infection control, support services and hygiene promotion.
Objectives of Kayakalp:
- To promote cleanliness, hygiene and Infection Control Practices in public Health Care Facilities.
- To incentivize and recognize such public healthcare facilities that show exemplary performance in adhering to standard protocols of cleanliness and infection control.
- To inculcate a culture of ongoing assessment and peer review of performance related to hygiene, cleanliness and sanitation.
- To create and share sustainable practices related to improved cleanliness in public health facilities linked to positive health outcomes.
Categories of the award:
- Best two District Hospitals in each state (Best District hospital in small states) – cash award of Rs.50 lakh and Rs.20 lakh for first and second respectively.
- Best two Community Health Centres/Sub District Hospitals (limited to one in small states) – cash award of Rs.15 lakh and Rs.10 lakh for first and second respectively.
- One Primary Health Centre in every district – case award of Rs.2 lakh.
Bharat Biotech to supply Covaxin to Brazil
What’s in News?
Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech has signed an agreement with Precisa Medicamentos, a firm in Brazil, to supply the COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the Latin American country.
- Twelve million doses of the indigenous vaccine are likely to be supplied over a period of time.
- Covaxin is India’s first indigenous COVID vaccine.
- It is being developed by the corona vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech.
- It has been developed based on an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 strain cultured at the National Institute of Virology, an ICMR body.
- This vaccine is developed on the Vero cell platform, which has a well-established track record of safety and efficacy in the country and globally.
- The Magh Bihu or the Bhogaali Bihu celebrates the culmination of the harvesting period.
- Similarly, Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival that is dedicated to express gratitude to the Sun God (Surya).
- This is observed in the second week of January every year. People thank nature for its abundant resources and good produce during the winter harvest festival.
- The festival, celebrated in different parts of the country in diverse ways, denotes the entry of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) as it travels on its celestial path.
- This harvesting festival is known by various names across India:
- Lohri by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs
- Maghi in Punjab
- Sukarat in central India
- Magh Bihu by Assamese
- Pongal by Tamilians
- Uttarayan in Gujarat
- Sakraat in Delhi and Haryana and many neighbouring states
- Saaji in Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh, Makara Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji. It is the Pahari word for Sakranti, start of the new month.
Central Board of Direct Taxes
CBDT launches e-portal for filing complaints regarding tax evasion/Benami Properties/Foreign Undisclosed Assets.
- CBDT has launched an automated dedicated e-portal on the e-filing website of the Department to receive and process complaints of tax evasion, foreign undisclosed assets as well as complaints regarding benami properties.
- The facility allows for filing of complaints by persons who are existing PAN/Aadhaar holders as well as for persons having no PAN/Aadhaar.
- Upon successful filing of the complaint, the Department will allot a unique number to each complaint and the complainant would be able to view the status of the complaint on the Department’s website.
- The CBDT is taking this step towards e-governance and to encourage the participation of citizens as stakeholders in curbing tax evasion.
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