Given below are the daily current affairs for 18th March 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.
- POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
Quick, decisive steps required to curb ‘second peak’, says PM
Warning of another possible nationwide COVID-19 outbreak, the Prime Minister urged the States and the Union Territories to work towards stopping the emerging second peak of infections and stressed the need for quick and decisive steps.
- All States and Union Territories have been tagged to 10 national labs under the INSACOG consortium with the National Centre for Disease Control as the nodal institute.
- Directions have been given to ensure that the standard operating procedures issued by the Health Ministry for surveillance of international travellers and their contacts are implemented rigorously.
- There is a need for provision of micro-containment zones.
- With the whole country opened up for travel, there has to be a robust mechanism for sharing information among States/Union Territories.
Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG):
- The government launched the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), comprising 10 labs spread across India.
- INSACOG was launched to ascertain the status of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country.
- It would monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.
- It has a high level Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee. Also, it has a Scientific Advisory Group for scientific and technical guidance.
Serious issue if 3 cr. ration cards were cancelled, says SC
The Supreme Court said it was a very serious matter if the Centre had really cancelled around three crore ration cards.
- A petition was filed alleging that the cancellation of ration cards solely because they could not be biometrically linked with Aadhaar led to starvation deaths across the country.
- It was pointed out that the ration cards of tribal people and the poor were cancelled.
- According to the Union of India, the insistence on Aadhaar and biometric authentication had led to the cancellation of nearly four crore ration cards in the country.
- The Union of India casually gives an explanation that these cancelled cards were bogus.
- However, the petition points out that the real reason was technological system based on iris identification, thumb prints, non-possession of Aadhaar, non-functioning of the Internet in rural and remote areas, etc., led to largescale cancellation of ration cards, without notice to the family concerned.
- While the states were in a denial mode, blaming the deaths on diarrhoea and malaria, the petition blamed lack of food and starvation for deaths.
- Even as the government highlighted the redressal mechanism within the Food Security Act as the right place to go, none of the States have appointed independent nodal officers or district grievance redressal officer under the Act.
- All the States have granted additional designations to existing officers. In many cases, the officers given additional designations are from the Food Supply Department leading to a conflict of interest.
- The Hunger Watch Report of the Right to Food Campaign in 2020 characterised the hunger situation in India as “grave”.
- India ranks 94 out of 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2020 and is in the ‘Serious Hunger Category’.
- Right to food, which the ration card symbolised, cannot be curbed or cancelled because of lack of Aadhaar.
- The Supreme Court in the Swaraj Abhiyan cases on the implementation of the Food Security Act, had given a slew of directions which included social audits, framing of rules and setting up vigilance committees. These directions must be diligently adhered to.
New DFI must curb reliance on foreign funds, says K.V. Kamath
The former New Development Bank president K.V. Kamath said that the new development finance institution (DFI) cleared by the Union Cabinet must be careful about preventing ‘excessive reliance’ on foreign funds.
- He stressed that even global development banks’ soft loans were ‘not really soft’ and ‘excessive reliance on international funds’ would not be prudent.
The Union Cabinet approved a Bill to set up a Development Finance Institution.
‘India known as first, reliable responder’
What’s in News?
External Affairs Minister said that in the past few years, India had developed a reputation of being the first and reliable responder in the region.
- He said that the Prime Minister’s vision has provided an overarching framework to make the country’s goodwill meaningful in terms of practical initiatives and activities.
- India had provided “Made in India” vaccines for COVID-19 to 72 countries.
- Medicines have been supplied to 150 nations, 82 of them as grants.
- India’s Vaccine Maitri initiative has also been widely praised across the globe.
- Human-centric global cooperation is the driving force of India’s Vaccine Maitri initiative.
- In the recent past, India readily provided humanitarian assistance and disaster responses in Yemen and Nepal or Mozambique and Fiji.
- In critical negotiations of global importance like the Paris Agreement, India played a key bridging role.
‘No decision on national NRIC till now’
What’s in News?
The Union government informed the Rajya Sabha that it had not taken any decision to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the national level till now.
National Register of Indian Citizens:
- NRIC is a list of all the legal citizens of the country, with necessary documents.
- Section 14A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for compulsory registration of every citizen of India and maintenance of NRIC.
- The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 spells out the rules for operationalizing the idea of registering all citizens and issuing national identity cards to them.
- Earlier, following the Supreme Court’s order, the Government conducted the National register of Citizens updating exercise in Assam.
‘Frame rules for amicus curiae’
What’s in News?
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made a strong appeal to the Supreme Court to frame guidelines for lawyers appointed as the court’s amici curiae in various cases, especially sensitive ones.
- It was pointed out that the court-appointed amici curiae tended to even interfere in the running of organisations such as the CBI.
- He submitted that it is time the court frame guidelines to demarcate the role of an amicus curiae.
- An amicus curiae literally translates to “friend of the court”.
- An amicus curiae is someone who is not a party to a case who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case.
- The decision on whether to consider an amicus brief lies within the discretion of the court.
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