Given below are the daily current affairs for 26th March 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.
- POLITY & GOVERNANCE
- ‘Vaccines effective in preventing severe illness caused by variants’
- What do the COVID-19 variants and double mutants found in India mean for the ongoing pandemic and second wave that the country is witnessing?
- Why are some variants a reason for concern? And are the variants detected in India ‘variants of concern’?
- How to contain the spread of variant of concern?
- Is the current vaccination drive enough to control the pandemic?
- ‘Vaccines effective in preventing severe illness caused by variants’
- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
POLITY & GOVERNANCE
Apex court bats for women officers in Army
The Supreme Court held that the Army’s selective evaluation process discriminates against and disproportionately affects women short service commission officers seeking a permanent commission.
- The bench observed that the evaluation criteria set by the Army constituted systemic discrimination against the women officers.
- It said that the evaluation pattern of women officers has caused them economic and psychological harm.
- In a series of directions, the court ordered that the cases of women officers who have applied for permanent commission should be reconsidered in a month and the decision on them should be given in two months.
- They would be considered for permanent commission subject to disciplinary and vigilance clearance. The court said physical standards should be kept at a premium during selection.
In July 2020, a Formal Government Sanction Letter was issued by the Ministry of Defence for grant of Permanent Commission (PC) to women officers in the Army.
SC suggests posting retired judges to clear backlog in HCs
The Supreme Court pushed for the appointment of retired judges to battle the pendency of cases in High Courts.
- There are suits pending in chartered courts, and in North India, some courts have cases pending for 30 years.
- Judicial pendency has become a great cause of concern.
- A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde said retired judges could be chosen on the basis of their expertise in a particular field of dispute and allowed to retire once the pendency in that zone of law was over.
- It said retired judges who had handled certain disputes and fields of law for over 15 years could deal with them faster if brought back into harness as ad-hoc judges.
- The court orally outlined prospective guidelines for the appointment and functioning of an ad hoc judge.
- The Chief Justice said the appointment of ad-hoc judges was provided for in the Constitution under Article 224A.
- Under the Article, the Chief Justice of a High Court for any State may at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who has held the office of judge of that court or of any other High Court to sit and act as a judge of the High Court for that State.
Why no decision on list sent by Collegium, SC asks government
The Supreme Court asked the government to clarify the status of 55 recommendations made by the Collegium for judicial appointments to High Courts six months to nearly a year-and-a-half ago.
- The Supreme Court has been repeatedly conveying to the government its growing concerns about the judicial vacancies in High Courts.
- Of the pending recommendations, 44 were made to fill vacancies in the Calcutta, Madhya Pradesh, Guwahati, Rajasthan and Punjab High Courts.
- These recommendations have been pending with the government for over seven months to a year.
Judicial Appointments to High Courts:
- Collegium System is a legally valid system of appointment and transfer of judges in the SC and all HCs.
- The names are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
- There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
- The recommendations of the Collegium are binding on the Central Government if the Collegium sends the names of the judges/lawyers to the government for the second time.
- But a time limit is not fixed for the government to give assent to the names. This is the reason that appointment of judges takes a long time.
‘Vaccines effective in preventing severe illness caused by variants’
Interview with the Director of Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, about the unique double mutant COVID-19 virus found in India, its implication for the country which is at the beginning of the second wave of infections and the importance of vaccination.
- The genome sequencing data of the COVID-19 virus from INSACOG show that nearly 7.7% of the nearly 11,000 specimens tested contained one of the viral variants.
- Viruses develop changes in their genomes very often during their multiplication and spread. The progeny viruses with one or more such changes are referred to as ‘variants’.
- The ‘double mutant’ simply means that this virus has two mutations, each of which has individually been seen in viruses from other parts of the world, except that it has both these mutations simultaneously.
- A ‘variant of interest’ refers to variants that appear to be associated with a special characteristic, but evidence is still limited.
- A ‘variant of concern’, on the other hand, is one where there is evidence supporting such association.
- These special characteristics of a variant could be an increased risk of transmission, causing more severe disease, failure of detection by the usual tests, or a higher risk of infection after prior infection or vaccination.
- Three variants of concern have been detected in India. These had been first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, respectively, and have been identified in several countries globally. These are of concern primarily because they have an increased potential for spread from one person to another.
How to contain the spread of variant of concern?
- Simple measures, such as the proper use of face masks and of physical distancing, are highly effective in preventing the spread of these variant strains.
- Hence, their spread can be effectively controlled by following these steps.
Is the current vaccination drive enough to control the pandemic?
- The current COVID-19 vaccination drive is not really for controlling the spread, but to protect those who are likely to develop severe disease.
- The primary aim of the drive is to reduce the need for ICU beds, the use of ventilators, and deaths.
- As immunisation continues and covers a large proportion of the population, it eventually will lead to a reduction in cases as well. In some small countries, such as Israel, where immunisation coverage is high, the disease rate has come down remarkably.
In signal to China, U.S. raised India ties during Alaska talks
What’s in News?
The Joe Biden administration highlighted the strength of U.S.-India ties in its meeting with Chinese officials in Alaska.
- It underlined how it has increasingly come to view India as central to its broader objectives in dealing with China in the Indo-Pacific region.
- U.S.-India relations, only two months into the new administration in the U.S, are developing robustly.
- The broader reason for the smooth transition in India-U.S. relations is the new administration’s emphasis on a bipartisan approach to India and other key foreign policy issues.
Suez Canal temporarily halts navigation
What’s in News?
A huge container ship has blocked the Suez Canal which is likely to take weeks to free. Officials have stopped all ships from entering the channel.
- The blockage has already hit world oil markets.
- A Marine Traffic map showed large clusters of vessels circling as they waited in both the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the south.
- Historic sections of the canal were reopened in a bid to ease the bottleneck, with dozens of ships waiting at both ends of the waterway.
- The Suez Canal is a critical shipping artery that connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas through Egypt (Isthmus of Suez).
- Constructed between 1859 and 1869, it officially opened in 1869.
- It was controlled by British and French interests in its initial years, but was nationalised in 1956.
- The canal offers a more direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian ocean via the Mediterranean and Red seas, thus avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian ocean and reducing the journey distance between Asia and Europe.
- It is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, carrying over 12% of world trade by volume.
- It is an absolutely critical route because all traffic arriving from Asia goes through the Suez Canal.
- Egypt depends heavily on revenues from the canal.
Central Scrutiny Centre (CSC)
- It is an initiative of the Corporate Affairs Ministry to scrutinise the filings by users under straight through processes.
- The objective is to ensure that data quality is uncompromised and free from flaws.
- CSC will primarily scrutinise the filings made by users under straight through processes, identify data quality issues and irregularities, and communicate the same to the concerned Registrar of Companies so that corrective steps can be taken to restore authenticity and correctness of data and it can be seamlessly shared with other regulators, if required.
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