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Daily Current Affairs – 21st Jan. 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 21st Jan 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

Supreme Court dismisses Aadhaar review petitions

Context:

The Supreme Court, in a majority view, has dismissed a series of petitions seeking a review of its 2018 judgment upholding the Lok Sabha Speaker’s certification of Aadhaar law as a Money Bill and its subsequent passage in Parliament.

Background:

The Aadhaar Bill had been certified by the government as a money Bill, enabling it to get it cleared without getting the assent of a majority in the Rajya Sabha. A five-judge Bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had upheld the Aadhaar Act in a 4:1 ruling on September 26, 2018.

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Aadhaar Bill as Money Bill:

Section 7 of Aadhaar Act provided that the expenditure for subsidy, services or benefits under welfare schemes would be met from the Consolidated Fund of India. Because of this, the bill was qualified to be categorised as a money bill.

What’s the issue?

Following the Supreme Court judgement, petitions were filed on two issues. These include:

  1. Whether the Speaker’s decision to declare a proposed law as Money Bill was “final” and cannot be challenged in court.
  2. Whether the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 was correctly certified as a ‘Money Bill’ under Article 110 (1) of the Constitution.

What has the Court said?

  1. Speaker’s decision could be challenged in court only under “certain circumstances”.
  2. The Aadhaar Act was rightly called a Money Bill.

What is a Money Bill?

  • A Money Bill is one that contains provisions for taxes, appropriation of funds etc.
  • Money Bills can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha, and the Rajya Sabha cannot make amendments to such bills passed by the Lok Sabha.
  • The Rajya Sabha can suggest amendments, but it is the Lok Sabha’s choice to accept or reject them.
  • Under Article 110(1), a Bill is deemed to be a money Bill if it deals only with matters specified in Article 110 (1) (a) to (g) — taxation, borrowing by the government and appropriation of money from the Consolidated Fund of India among others.
  • According to Article 110 (3) of the Constitution, “if any question arises whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, the decision of the Speaker of the House of the People thereon shall be final.”

ECONOMY

India Innovation Index 2020: NITI Aayog

Context:

NITI Aayog launched the second edition of the India Innovation Index 2020.

India Innovation Index:

  • India Innovation Index 2020 is the second edition of the India Innovation Index released by NITI Aayog.

Objective:

  • The study examines the innovation ecosystem of Indian states and union territories.
  • The aim is to create a holistic tool which can be used by policymakers across the country to identify the challenges to be addressed and strengths to build on when designing the economic growth policies for their regions.
  • The idea behind this index came from recognizing the role of innovation as a key driver of growth and prosperity for India.
  • The study is an outcome of extensive research and analysis, which looks holistically at the innovation landscape of India by examining the innovation capabilities and performance of Indian states and union territories.

Classification:

  • The states have been classified into three categories: major states, north-east, and hill states, and union territories/city states/small states.

Evaluation:

  • The index attempts to create an extensive framework for the continual evaluation of the innovation environment of states and union territories in India and intends to perform the following three functions:
    • Ranking of states and UTs based on their index scores
    • Recognizing opportunities and challenges
    • Assisting in tailoring governmental policies to foster innovation
  • The index is calculated as the average of the scores of its two dimensions:
    • Enablers: These are the factors that underpin innovative capacities, grouped into five pillars:
      • Human Capital
      • Investment
      • Knowledge Workers
      • Business Environment
      • Safety and Legal Environment
    • Performers: This dimension captures benefits that a nation derives from the inputs, divided into two pillars:
      • Knowledge Output
      • Knowledge Diffusion

India Innovation Index 2020 Report:

  • Karnataka retained its leadership position in the major States category in the second edition, followed by Maharashtra, which moved past Tamil Nadu to occupy the second place.
    • Karnataka’s rank is attributable to its substantive number of venture capital deals, registered Geographical Indications and information and communications technology exports.
    • Its high Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow has also enhanced the innovation capabilities of the State.
  • The other States in the top 10 are Telangana, Kerala, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
    • Barring Maharashtra, all other States in the top five are in the south.
  • Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar scored the lowest on the index, which put them at the bottom in the major States category.
  • Delhi topped among Union Territories and Himachal Pradesh among North-Eastern and Hill States.

India Innovation Index 2020

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Significance:

  • The India Innovation Index aims to create an extensive framework for a continual evaluation of India’s innovation environment.
  • The index aims to rank States and UTs based on their scores, recognise opportunities and challenges, and assist in tailoring government policies to foster innovation.
  • The India Innovation Index will create synergies between different stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem, thus enabling India to shift to competitive good governance.

DEFENCE

Defence Geo-Informatics Research Establishment (DGRE)

Context:

DRDO inks framework MoU with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) for Geo-hazard Management.

MoU Details:

  • The MoU aims to strengthen collaboration in the field of technical exchange and cooperation on sustainable geohazard management.
  • As per the MoU, DRDO and MoRTH will cooperate in various mutually beneficial areas related to geohazard management.
  • The initiative will ensure safety against the adverse effects of landslides and other natural calamities on national highways in the country.
  • It has been agreed that the expertise of DRDO (through the DGRE) will be utilized in providing sustainable mitigation measures to damages caused by landslides, avalanche and other natural factors on various National Highways in the Country.

About DGRE:

  • The Defence Geo Informatics Research Establishment (DGRE), a DRDO laboratory, is a leading entity in the development of critical technologies for enhancing combat effectiveness with a focus on terrains and avalanches.
  • Its role and charter include mapping, forecasting, monitoring, controlling and mitigating landslides and avalanches in the Himalayan terrain.
  • Its expertise will be utilized for designing national highways including tunnels.
  • Terrain and modelling simulation is an important asset with DGRE, which will play an important role in planning and building robust road infrastructure in difficult terrains.

5th India – Singapore Defence Ministers’ Dialogue

Context:

The 5th Defence Ministers’ Dialogue (DMD) between India and Singapore was successfully held.

Background:

  • Defence and security engagements between India and Singapore have broadened significantly in scale and scope across all three Services of the Armed Forces as well as in the areas of defence technology and industry.
  • Both countries have also found common ground on multilateral fora and engagements.
  • In August 2020, the implementing agreement on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) cooperation was signed for the two Armed Forces to have closer operational collaboration in response to disasters and capacity-building activities of mutual interest.
  • The cyber agencies of both armed forces have also stepped up engagements.

Military exchanges between India and Singapore:

  • Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) – annual exercise between the navies. 
  • SITMEX – Singapore, India, Thailand Maritime Exercise. 

5th DMD Details:

  • The Implementing Agreement on Submarine Rescue Support and Cooperation was signed between the navies of India and Singapore.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Biden to reverse Trump policies on Day 1

What’s in News?

Democrat Joe Biden was sworn-in as the 46th President of the United States.

  • The U.S. President plans to kick off his new administration with orders to restore the U.S. to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization.
  • Biden will sign 15 orders and actions just hours after being sworn in as the U.S. leader to break from the policies of departing President Donald Trump and set new paths on immigration, the environment, fighting COVID-19 and the economy.
  • Many of the actions will take government policies back to where they were on January 19, 2017 — the final day of the Barack Obama-Joe Biden administration, before Mr. Trump entered office.
  • The President has promised to root out systemic racism from the institutions.

Shaheen-III Missile

Why in News

Recently, Pakistan has successfully test-fired the Shaheen-III missile.

Key Points

  • Shaheen-III Missile of Pakistan:
    • It is a nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile which can strike targets up to 2,750 km.
    • The launch of the missile was aimed at revalidating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system.
  • Other Recent Developments:
    • China had recently asked India to “objectively” view the Eagle-IX (or Shaheen-IX) military exercise taking place between the Chinese and Pakistani air forces, amid increasing tensions with India.
  • Some of India’s Ballistic Missiles:
    • Shaurya missile,
    • Prithvi missile,
    • Agni missile,
    • Dhanush, etc.

MISCELLANEOUS

SBI does deals using SOFR as benchmark

What’s in News?

State Bank of India (SBI) has executed two inter-bank short term money market deals with pricing linked to SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate).

Secured Overnight Financing Rate:

  • The Secured Overnight Financing Rate or SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by Treasury securities.
  • The SOFR is calculated directly from transaction data in the US Treasury repurchase market.

Details:

  • SOFR is a replacement for USD LIBOR that may be phased out by end-2021.
    • The US Dollar LIBOR interest rate is the average interbank interest rate at which a large number of banks on the London money market are prepared to lend one another unsecured funds denominated in US Dollars.
  • This follows the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority deciding not to compel banks on LIBOR calculation after December 2021.
  • The transaction shows SBI’s progress in aligning systems and processes to embrace alternate reference rates.

Kamalam

  • The Gujarat government has decided to rename the dragon fruit as ‘kamalam’.
  • The word ‘kamalam’ is a Sanskrit word and the shape of the fruit does resemble the lotus flower.

Hunar Haat

Context:

The 24th “Hunar Haat” of indigenous products of artisans and craftsmen being organised at Avadh Shilpgram in Lucknow.

Details:

  • The 24th Hunar Haat is being organised by the Ministry of Minority Affairs with the theme “Vocal for Local”.
  • About 500 artisans and craftsmen from 31 States/UTs of the country are participating.
  • Indigenous products are being showcased such as Ajrakh, Applique, Art Metal Ware, Bagh Print, Batik, Banarsi Saree, Bandhej, Bastar Art & Herbal products, Block Print, Brass Metal Bangles, Cane & Bamboo products, Canvas Painting, Chikankari, Copper Bell, Dry Flowers, Handloom Textile, Kalamkari, Mangalgiri, Kota Silk, Lac Bangles, Leather products, Pashmina Shawls, Rampuri Violin, wooden and iron toys, Kantha Embroidery, Brass products, crystal glass items, Sandalwood products, etc
  • Apart from products and food items, artists will also perform cultural events.
  • Hunar Haat Significance:
    • “Hunar Haat” has proved to be immensely beneficial and encouraging for artisans and craftsmen as lakhs of people visit the “Hunar Haat” and purchase indigenous handmade products of artisans on large scale.

Angiogenesis

  • Angiogenesis is the physiological process through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing vessels, formed in the earlier stage of vasculogenesis.
  • Angiogenesis is a normal and vital process in growth and development, as well as in wound healing and in the formation of granulation tissue.
  • However, it is also a fundamental step in the transition of tumours from a benign state to a malignant one.
    • This has led to the use of angiogenesis inhibitors in the treatment of cancer.

In cancer treatment:

  • The essential role of angiogenesis in tumour growth was first proposed in 1971 by Judah Folkman.
  • Angiogenesis is critical in the growth of cancer because tumours need blood supply to grow. Tumours trigger the growth of blood cells by giving off chemical signals that stimulate angiogenesis.
  • Deregulation of angiogenesis is the main reason for tumour growth and progression.
  • Inhibition of tumour angiogenesis has become a popular anti-cancer strategy after chemotherapy.
  • However, the clinically approved anti-angiogenic drugs are ineffective due to parallel activation of various compensatory mechanisms involving a cascade of molecules, which aids tumour angiogenesis.
  • Investigation of these mechanisms is essential for developing anti-angiogenic therapies.

What’s in News?

  • An INSPIRE faculty from Chennai and his team are working to develop transgenic zebrafish (which have exogenous genes added to their genome) model by the use of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing tool to further study the compensatory angiogenesis mechanism in the tumour microenvironment.
  • The transgenic or CRISPR/Cas9 edited Zebrafish platform (TZP) can be used for studying the efficacy of a  drug as anti or pro-angiogenesis in the next phase of the project.
  • The researcher has already found that nitric oxide (NO) plays a key role in switching off angiogenesis under tumour microenvironment and that the melatonin hormone suppresses tumour angiogenesis.

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