Given below are the daily current affairs for 04th Feb. 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.
- POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- ‘Collection of DNA samples will lead to misuse’
- DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019:
- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
‘Collection of DNA samples will lead to misuse’
Retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Madan Lokur has given a written submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology with his observations on the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019.
- Justice Lokur has questioned the need to collect DNA of a “suspect”.
- He argued that in a blind crime or a crime involving a large number of persons (such as a riot), everybody is a suspect without any real basis.
- This would mean that thousands of persons could be subjected to DNA profiling on mere suspicion.
- He has observed that allowing investigating agencies to collect DNA samples from suspects, as laid down in the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019, will give them unbridled power that is easily capable of misuse and abuse and amount to a threat to the life, liberty, dignity and privacy of a person.
- Also, earlier, fears had been expressed that the law could be used for caste or community-based profiling.
- However, it was observed that these concerns do not negate the need for such legislation, especially when DNA technology was in use.
DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019:
- The Bill proposes DNA sampling and profiling of citizens accused of a crime or reported missing, and storing their unique genetic information for administrative purposes.
- DNA testing is currently being done on an extremely limited scale in India, with approximately 30-40 DNA experts in 15-18 laboratories undertaking fewer than 3,000 cases a year.
- The standards of the laboratories are not monitored or regulated.
- The Bill aims to introduce the regulation of the entire process from collection to storage.
- The preamble to the Bill says that it aims to provide for “the regulation of use and application of Deoxyribonucleic Acid [DNA] technology for the purposes of establishing the identity of certain categories of persons, including the victims, offenders, suspects, under trials, missing persons and unknown deceased persons”.
National Rail Plan
The Government has issued the Draft Final Report of the National Rail Plan.
Highlights of the National Rail Plan (NRP):
- National Rail Plan aims at providing a long term perspective planning for augmenting the Railway Network.
- The vision of the NRP is to develop capacity, infrastructure and enhance rail freight share ahead of the demand and to develop capacity by 2030 that will cater to the growing demand up to 2050.
- The National Rail Plan for India 2030 will create a future-ready railways system and bring down the logistic cost for industry to enable Make in India.
- The finance minister during the Budget 2021-22 detailed that a record ?1,10,055 crore has been provided to the Railways, of which ?1,07,100 crore has been allocated for capital expenditure.
- Moreover, the Railways is also set to monetize dedicated freight corridors.
- Western & Eastern dedicated freight corridors will also be commissioned.
- The Somnagar Gomu section of Eastern Dedicated Corridor will also be taken up this year.
- High Density network & highly utilized network routes of Railways will be provided with train protection system to eliminate train collision incidents due to human error.
- Railways would also introduce the aesthetically-designed vistadome LHB coaches on tourist routes for better travel experience to passengers.
‘India’s weak fiscal position to remain a key credit challenge’
According to Moody’s investors, while Union Budget’s focus on higher capital expenditure, financial sector reforms and asset sales would help to stimulate growth and supply broad-based credit support, India’s weak fiscal position would remain a key credit challenge compared with its rating peers.
- The budget projects a narrowing of the central government’s fiscal deficit to 6.8% of GDP in fiscal 2022 from an estimated 9.5% in fiscal 2021.
- The ratings agency said the widening of the deficit in fiscal 2021 was driven almost entirely by expenditure to support Indian households and the economy from the pandemic shock.
- It added that, given India’s very high debt burden, this gradual pace of consolidation will prevent any material strengthening in the government’s fiscal position over the medium term, unless nominal GDP growth were to pick up sustainably to historically very high rates.
- The new Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) was tabled in the Parliament.
- The existing fiscal rules have been amended to incorporate the revised threshold of deficit to GDP.
- This is the third time the FRBM has been amended in India.
- As per the second amendment, the “revenue balance” was eliminated and clauses about “revenue balance” were incorporated in the Financial Bill to move away from the “golden (fiscal) rule” of zero revenue deficits.
- The Union Budget 2021-22 has reiterated that fiscal deficit is still the operational concept of deficit in India.
Iran’s Rouhani rules out changes to nuclear deal
Iran’s President has ruled out changes to Iran’s nuclear accord with world powers and dismissed calls to broaden the terms of the deal and include regional countries.
- Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran in 2018, maintaining a policy of “maximum pressure” against the Islamic republic.
- JCPOA had promised economic relief for limits on its nuclear programme.
- A year later, Iran responded by gradually suspending its compliance with most of its key nuclear commitments in the deal.
- U.S. President Joe Biden has voiced support for returning to the accord, from which Donald Trump exited.
- However, Biden has insisted that Tehran must first resume full compliance and consider expanding the deal beyond the nuclear issue.
- Iran’s regional arch-rival, Saudi Arabia, has also called for a role in any future talks on the agreement.
U.S. extends New START nuclear treaty with Russia
What’s in News?
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has extended the New START nuclear treaty with Russia by five years.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed off on legislation extending the accord.
- The treaty signed by then-President Barack Obama in 2010 will run until February 5, 2026.
New START Treaty:
- This is the last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals.
- New START caps the number of nuclear warheads that can be deployed by Moscow and Washington to 1,550.
Government notice to Twitter on ‘farmer genocide’ hashtag
What’s in News?
The Union government has issued a notice to Twitter to comply with its order of removal of content related to ‘farmer genocide’.
- The Centre alleged that the material was designed to spread misinformation to inflame passions and hatred, and warned that refusal to do so may invite penal action.
- A source in the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), which sent the notice to Twitter, said that the firm was an intermediary and was obliged to follow the directions of the government and refusal to do so may invite penal action.
- Section 69A  provides for specific penal consequences in case of non-compliance of the directions issued under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, was introduced by the Central Government after an amendment to the Act in 2008. This section gave the government the power to block public access to any information online whether on websites or mobile apps.
Lithium Deposits in Karnataka
Preliminary survey shows deposits of Lithium in Mandya district of Karnataka.
- Preliminary surveys on surface and limited subsurface by Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) have shown presence of Lithium resources of 1,600 tonnes (inferred category) in the pegmatites of Marlagalla – Allapatna area, Mandya district, Karnataka.
- The significance of these deposits may be established only after the completion of exploration in the entire area.
- Subsequently, plan for commercial exploitation of the lithium deposits can commence after the technical, social and economic feasibility studies in the area.
Importance of Lithium Deposits:
- Lithium is a key element for new technologies and finds its use in ceramics, glass, telecommunication and aerospace industries.
- The well-known uses of Lithium are in Lithium ion batteries, lubricating grease, high energy additive to rocket propellants, optical modulators for mobile phones and as convertor to tritium used as a raw material for thermonuclear reactions i.e. fusion.
- The thermonuclear application makes Lithium as “Prescribed substance” under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 which permits AMD for exploration of Lithium in various geological domains of the country.
- Due to the continuously increasing demand of Lithium ion batteries, the requirement of Lithium has increased over the last few years.
What is “Prescribed substance” under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962?
- According to the Act, “Prescribed Substance” means any substance including any mineral which the Central Government may, by notification, prescribe, being a substance which in its opinion is or may be used for the production or use of atomic energy or research into matters connected therewith and includes uranium, plutonium, thorium, beryllium, deuterium or any of their respective derivatives or compounds or any other materials containing any of the aforesaid substances.
Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD):
- The chief mandate of the AMD is to identify and evaluate uranium resources required for the successful implementation of the Atomic Energy programme of the country.
- It is headquartered in Hyderabad and has regional offices in a few other cities.
- It is under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GOI.
- AMD carries out geological exploration and discovery of mineral deposits required for the nuclear power programme.
- It was established in 1948 and is the oldest unit of the DAE.
- It was originally called Rare Minerals Survey Unit and then renamed twice before being named its current one in 1998.
- Previously, it was also called ‘Raw Materials Division’ and ‘Atomic Minerals Division’.
- AMD has been instrumental in locating Uranium resources in Singhbhum Shear Zone, Jharkhand; KPM (Domiasiat), Wahkut, Wahkyn, Meghalaya; Lambapur – Chitrial, Peddagattu, Telangana; Tummalapalle, Andhra Pradesh; Gogi, Karnataka and Rohil, Rajasthan.
- AMD also has established vast resources of thorium in the coastal tracts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
- It has also extended its contribution towards the recovery of Rare Metals and Rare Earths elements.
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