Given below are the daily current affairs for 17th March 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.
- POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
Changes to NCT Act revive power tussle
Amendments have been proposed to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, three decades after it was enacted.
- The amendments have brought contradictions between the Central and Delhi governments to the fore once again.
- While some are of the opinion that the new Bill will seek to render the office of the Chief Minister a vestigial organ in the name of simplifying administration, others argued that the amendments will iron out needless issues arising out of politics in a city where the Lieutenant-Governor had always been the government.
Rajya Sabha passes MTP Bill
The Rajya Sabha passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The Bill was passed in March 2020 in the Lok Sabha. The original Bill was framed in 1971.
- Under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, voluntarily terminating a pregnancy is a criminal offence.
- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 allows for aborting the pregnancy by medical doctors (with specified specialisation) on certain grounds.
- The Act regulates the conditions under which a pregnancy may be aborted.
- The bill increases the time period within which an abortion may be carried out.
- Women would need a nod from a medical board in the case of pregnancies beyond 24 weeks.
- Currently, abortion requires the opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception, and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks.
- The Bill allows abortion to be done on the advice of one doctor up to 20 weeks, and two doctors in the case of certain categories of women, between 20 and 24 weeks.
- For a pregnancy to be terminated after 24 weeks in case of substantial foetal abnormalities, the opinion of the State-level medical board is essential.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy:
- Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) is a legalized method of termination of pregnancy, intentionally, before its full term.
- It is also known as induced abortion or intentional or voluntary termination of pregnancy.
Delhi remains most polluted capital: report
According to a report from IQ Air, Delhi remained the most polluted capital city in the world.
- IQ Air is a Swiss air quality technology company specialising in protection against airborne pollutants, and developing air quality monitoring and air cleaning products.
- In the 2020 report, 106 countries were evaluated.
- The pollution levels are weighted averages, meaning that the population of a country influences the pollution values reported.
- Of the 106 monitored countries, only 24 met the World Health Organization annual guidelines for PM 2.5
- Bangladesh and Pakistan were the countries in 2020 with worse average PM2.5 levels than India.
- When ranked by cities, Hotan in China was the most polluted followed by Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
- Delhi’s PM2.5 concentration level in 2020 saw a 15% improvement from that recorded in 2019 when the city was ranked the world’s most polluted capital for the second straight year.
- This was based on data from the Central Pollution Control Board.
- Average pollution levels were 51.9 ?g/m³ in 2020 compared with 58.1 ?g/m³ in 2019, making India the third most polluted country in 2020, unlike in 2019, when it was ranked fifth.
- Of the 15 most polluted cities in the world, 13 were in India.
- In spite of being a pandemic year, 2020 was particularly severe for agricultural burning. Farm fires in Punjab increased by 46.5% over 2019. Read more on stubble burning in the link.
U.K. turns to Indo-Pacific in post-Brexit foreign policy
- As per a document laying out post-Brexit foreign and defence policy priorities, Britain wants to expand its influence among countries in the Indo-Pacific region to try to moderate China’s global dominance.
- It is Britain’s biggest foreign and defence policy review since the end of the Cold War.
- The document focuses on reinvigorated, rules-based international order based on cooperation and free trade.
- The document sets out a planned increase of Britain’s nuclear warhead stockpile by more than 40% to weigh against evolving global security threats.
- It underlines the importance of strong ties with the U.S.
- It names Russia as the top regional threat.
- While stating the benefits of bilateral trade and investment with China, it stated that the country presents the biggest state-based threat to the U.K.’s economic security.
- Calling the Indo-Pacific increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world, the government highlighted a planned British aircraft carrier deployment to the region.
Come out with ‘rule curve’ for Mullaperiyar: SC
What’s in News?
The Supreme Court said that the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary will be personally responsible and appropriate action will be taken on failure to give information on the rule curve for the Mullaperiyar dam to the Supreme Court-appointed Supervisory Committee.
- The court directed the Supervisory Committee to issue directions or take steps to address the three core safety issues and submit a compliance report.
- The monitoring and performance of the instrumentation of the dam
- Finalising the rule curve
- Fixing the gate operating schedule
- The rule curve in a dam decides the fluctuating storage levels in a reservoir.
- The gate opening schedule of a dam is based on the rule curve.
- It is part of the “core safety” mechanism in a dam.
- The Mullaperiyar Dam is a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River in the Indian state of Kerala.
- The dam is located in Kerala on the river Periyar, but is operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu state.
- The dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu states is because of the control and safety of the dam and the validity and fairness of the lease agreement.
- The dispute began in 1998 when Tamil Nadu wanted to raise the height of the water level and Kerala opposed it.
Energy meet calls for faster shift to renewables
What’s in News?
World Energy Transitions Outlook report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
- The report says that the COVID-19 crisis offers an unexpected opportunity for countries to decouple their economies from fossil fuels and accelerate the shift to renewable energy sources.
- It proposes energy transition solutions for the narrow pathway available to contain the rise of temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius.
- IRENA observed the emergence of a new energy system based on renewable technologies and complemented by green hydrogen and modern bioenergy.
- It estimated that by 2050, 90% of total electricity needs would be supplied by renewables, followed by 6% from natural gas and the remaining from nuclear.
Cabinet gives nod to Bill for setting up DFI
What’s in News?
The Union Cabinet approved a Bill to set up a Development Finance Institution.
- The development finance institutions or development finance companies are organizations owned by the government or charitable institutions to provide funds for low-capital projects or where their borrowers are unable to get it from commercial lenders.
- As of December 2019, there were over 6,000 brownfield and greenfield projects requiring funding.
- The Budget 2021-22 had provided for an initial amount of ?20,000 crore for the institution.
Cerebral Vein Thrombosis
What’s in News?
Scientists have reported that the blood clots observed in some of those vaccinated are a special form of very rare cerebral vein thrombosis.
- This corresponds to a deficiency in platelets and bleeding following vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
- The recommendations from the institute were the reason Germany put on hold ongoing vaccinations until a full review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
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