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Daily Current Affairs – 28th Jan. 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 28th Jan 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

SC asks for timeline on appointments

Context:

  • The Supreme Court questioned the government about the delay in clearing Collegium recommendations for judicial appointments to various High Courts.
  • The bench asked the Centre if there was a timeline for government clearance of such recommendations.

Concerns:

  • The Bench noted how recommendations from the High Courts of Bombay and Allahabad dated back to May or June 2020.
  • It highlighted that 189 proposals for judicial appointments were still pending.
  • Earlier the Supreme Court had conveyed its alarm at the rising number of judicial vacancies in various High Courts.
    • On average, the courts suffer at least 40% vacancies.
    • Some of them were functioning only with half their sanctioned strength.

Details:

  • Attorney-General explained that the Collegium had also delayed the appointment process.
  • He asserted that the government’s delay was largely because it thoroughly combed through the antecedents of the candidate. The process, on an average, took at least 127 days.
  • Also, he pointed out that the judiciary took 119 days on an average merely to forward the file to the government.

SC stays Bombay HC order in groping case

Context:

The Supreme Court has stayed a controversial Bombay High Court verdict related to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Background:

  • The High Court’s Nagpur Bench acquitted a man under the POCSO Act and held that an act against a minor would amount to groping or sexual assault only if there was “skin-to-skin” contact.
  • The man was acquitted on the grounds that he groped his victim over her clothes and there was no skin to skin contact between them.
  • The court concluded that mere touching or pressing of a clothed body of a child did not amount to sexual assault.

Latest development:

  • Attorney-General made a special mention in court, saying the single-judge verdict would set a very dangerous precedent and cripple the intention of the POCSO Act to punish sexual offenders.
  • He said that the verdict would allow the accused to claim innocence under the Act by arguing that the child he/she assaulted was clothed and there was no “direct physical skin-to-skin contact” between them.
  • A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) has taken cognisance of the matter instantaneously and stayed the order.

Owaisi, Viswam file dissent on DNA Bill

Context:

Leaders of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) and CPI have filed dissent notes to the parliamentary standing committee’s report on the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 on the following grounds:

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  1. The bill does not take into account their concerns over privacy violations.
  2. If enacted, the Bill will target Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis by way of DNA sample collection and indefinite storage.

What are the main concerns and issues with respect to the bill?

The Bill proposes DNA sampling and profiling of citizens accused of crime or reported missing, and storing their unique genetic information for administrative purposes.

The fear is that:

  1. The law could be used for caste or community-based profiling.
  2. The Bill runs afoul with the standards set in the Puttaswamy and Subramanian Swamy judgments of the Supreme Court.
  3. In the absence of a statutory framework protecting the right to privacy, this Bill will cause irreversible damage to individuals’ right to privacy as well as the criminal justice system.
  4. Without adequate statutory safeguard to protect against the opacity of the law on the sort of information being collected and its unrestricted usage for a variety of purposes this law is susceptible to future misuse and abuse.

Highlights of the Bill:

  1. As per the Bill, national and regional DNA data banks will be set up for maintaining a national database for identification of victims, suspects in cases, under trials, missing persons and unidentified human remains.
  2. Punishment: Those leaking the DNA profile information to people or entities who are not entitled to have it, will be punished with a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh.
  3. Usage: As per the bill, all DNA data, including DNA profiles, DNA samples and records, will only be used for identification of the person and not for “any other purpose”.
  4. The bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
  5. The Bill establishes a DNA Regulatory Board to accredit the DNA laboratories that analyze DNA samples to establish the identity of an individual.

ENVIRONMENT

Conservationist joins panel on elephant corridor case

Context:

The Supreme Court has appointed conservationist Nandita Hazarika as Member of a Technical Committee constituted by it on October 14 last year to hear complaints by land owners against the action taken by the Nilgris Collector, which included sealing of their buildings and allegations about the “arbitrary variance in acreage of the elephant corridor.”

What’s the issue?

  • On October 14, the court upheld the Tamil Nadu government’s authority to notify an ‘elephant corridor’ and protect the migratory path of the animals through the Nilgiri biosphere reserve.
  • The court had said it was the State’s duty to protect a “keystone species” such as elephants, immensely important to the environment.

Location of the corridor:

  • The corridor is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau, which connects the Western and the Eastern Ghats and sustains elephant populations and their genetic diversity.
  • It has the Nilgiri Hills on its southwestern side and the Moyar River Valley on its north-eastern side. The elephants cross the plateau in search of food and water.

What are Elephant Corridors?

Elephant corridors are narrow strips of land that connect two large habitats of elephants. Elephant corridors are crucial to reduce animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons. So fragmentation of forests makes it all the more important to preserve migratory corridors.

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Why protect elephant corridors?

  1. The movement of elephants is essential to ensure that their populations are genetically viable. It also helps to regenerate forests on which other species, including tigers, depend.
  2. Nearly 40% of elephant reserves are vulnerable, as they are not within protected parks and sanctuaries. Also, the migration corridors have no specific legal protection.
  3. Forests that have turned into farms and unchecked tourism are blocking animals’ paths. Animals are thus forced to seek alternative routes resulting in increased elephant-human conflict.
  4. Weak regulation of ecotourism is severely impacting important habitats. It particularly affects animals that have large home ranges, like elephants.

Efforts at all- India level:

  • ‘Gaj Yatra’, a nationwide campaign to protect elephants, was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day in 2017.
  • The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states.
  • The campaign aims to create awareness about elephant corridors to encourage free movement in their habitat.

Forest Ministry guide to managing human-elephant conflict (Best Practices):

  1. Retaining elephants in their natural habitats by creating water sources and management of forest fires.
  2. Elephant Proof trenches in Tamil Nadu.
  3. Hanging fences and rubble walls in Karnataka.
  4. Use of chili smoke in north Bengal and playing the sound of bees or carnivores in Assam.
  5. Use of technology: Individual identification, monitoring of elephants in south Bengal and sending SMS alerts to warn of elephant presence.

Efforts by Private Organizations in this regard:

  • Asian Elephant Alliance, an umbrella initiative by five NGOs, had come together to secure 96 out of the 101 existing corridors used by elephants across 12 States in India.
  • NGOs Elephant Family, International Fund for Animal Welfare, IUCN Netherlands and World Land Trust have teamed up with Wildlife Trust of India’s (WTI) in the alliance.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Russia gives nod to extend START treaty

Context:

US, Russia agree to extend ‘New START’ nuclear arms treaty.

  • The extension of the landmark arms control treaty will continue to limit the number of nuclear missiles and warheads each country can deploy.

Background:

Negotiations to extend the treaty were stalled by the administration of former US President Donald Trump, which insisted on tougher inspections for Russia and for China to be included, which Beijing refused.

About the New START treaty:

  1. The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart at the time, Dmitry Medvedev.
  2. The treaty limits each party to 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers.
  3. It also envisions a rigorous inspection regime to verify compliance.

India signs Strategic Partnership Agreement with International Energy Agency (IEA)

Context:

India signs Strategic Partnership Agreement with International Energy Agency (IEA).

  • The agreement seeks to strengthen mutual trust and cooperation & enhance global energy security, stability and sustainability.

About IEA:

  • Established in 1974 as per framework of the OECD, IEA is an autonomous intergovernmental organisation.
  • Its mission is guided by four main areas of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide.
  • Headquarters (Secretariat): Paris, France.

Roles and functions:

  • Established in the wake of the 1973-1974 oil crisis, to help its members respond to major oil supply disruptions, a role it continues to fulfil today.
  • IEA’s mandate has expanded over time to include tracking and analyzing global key energy trends, promoting sound energy policy, and fostering multinational energy technology cooperation.

Composition and eligibility:

It has 30 members at present. IEA family also includes eight association countries. A candidate country must be a member country of the OECD. But all OECD members are not IEA members.

To become member a candidate country must demonstrate that it has:

  1. Crude oil and/or product reserves equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports, to which the government has immediate access (even if it does not own them directly) and could be used to address disruptions to global oil supply.
  2. A demand restraint programme to reduce national oil consumption by up to 10%.
  3. Legislation and organisation to operate the Co-ordinated Emergency Response Measures (CERM) on a national basis.
  4. Legislation and measures to ensure that all oil companies under its jurisdiction report information upon request.
  5. Measures in place to ensure the capability of contributing its share of an IEA collective action.

Reports:

  1. Global Energy & CO2 Status Report.
  2. World Energy Outlook.
  3. World Energy Statistics.
  4. World Energy Balances.
  5. Energy Technology Perspectives.

MISCELLANEOUS

National Informatics Centre Services Incorporated (NICSI)

Context:

NICSI to celebrate its Silver Jubilee.

About NICSI:

  • NICSI is a public sector enterprise under the National Informatics Centre (NIC), Ministry of Electronics & Technology, GOI.
  • NICSI was founded in 1996, and provides end-to-end IT solutions for e-governance projects for Central and State Governments and other PSUs across India.
  • It also provides ICT services at the international level.
  • The core services of NICSI include IT Consultancy, Centre of Excellence for Data Analytics, Productization & International Promotion, Cloud Services, ICT product installations, Human Resource/Roll out/Training.
  • Some of its key offerings extends to eOffice, eTransport, eHospital, ePrisons, eCourts and so.
  • NICSI is headquartered in New Delhi.

Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC)

Context:

CBIC celebrates International Customs Day, 2021.

About the International Customs Day:

  • Annually held on January 26, International Customs Day (ICD) recognizes the role of customs officials and agencies in maintaining border security.
  • It focuses on the working conditions and challenges that customs officers face in their jobs.
  • It was instituted by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
  • January 26th commemorates the day in 1952 when the inaugural session of the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) was held in Brussels, Belgium.
  • In 1994 the CCC was renamed World Customs Organization (WCO) and today customs organizations from 183 countries are WCO members. The WCO is headquartered in Brussels.
  • The theme for the 2021 commemoration was, “Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain”.

Govind Ballabh Pant

  • G B Pant was a freedom fighter and the first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh post-independence.
  • He was the Premier of the United Provinces from 1937 to 1939.
  • He was also the Union Home Minister from 1955 to 1961.
  • G B Pant received the Bharat Ratna in 1957.

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