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Daily Current Affairs – 27th March 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 27th March 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY & GOVERNANCE

Poll bond sale can go ahead: SC

Context:

The Supreme Court refused to stay the sale of electoral bonds prior to the Assembly elections in crucial states such as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

Details:

  • A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, said the scheme began in 2018 and continued in 2019 and 2020 without any impediments.
  • It said that the court found no reason to stall the sale of the electoral bonds.

Charges against Electoral Bonds and SC’s Response:

  • The anonymity of the buyers – The scheme provides anonymity but ensures that everything happens through the banking channels alone.
    • They can also be obtained in physical form from the Registrar of Companies upon payment of a prescribed fee.
    • Since the scheme mandates political parties to file an audited statement of accounts and also since the Companies Act requires financial statements of registered companies to be filed with the Registrar of Companies, the purchase as well as encashment of the bonds, happening only through banking channels, is always reflected in documents that eventually come to the public domain.
  • Corporate houses can finance political parties – The court rubbished the charge of electoral bonds facilitating anonymous and hefty donations from corporate houses to political parties. Anyone buying bonds will have to fulfil KYC norms. The money spent will reflect on the expenses sheet of the company.
  • Foreign corporate houses can buy bonds and influence electoral politics – The court debunked fears that electoral bonds would help foreign corporate houses influence domestic electoral politics. Bonds can be purchased only by a person who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India.
  • Bonds bought with white money can be re-purchased with black money – Bonds are not tradable under clause 14. Moreover, the first buyer will not stand to gain anything out of such a sale except losing white money for the black.

40% of RTI rejections did not cite valid reason, says analysis

Context:

Central Information Commission’s annual report on Right to Information (RTI) requests.

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Details:

  • The CIC’s annual report covers more than 2,000 public authorities across the Central government as well as the union territories.
  • An analysis of CIC macro-data from Central ministries shows that the Home Ministry had the highest rate of rejections, as it rejected 20% of all RTIs received. The Agriculture Ministry’s rejection rate doubled from 2% in 2018-19 to 4% in 2019-20. The Delhi Police and the Army also saw increases in rejection rates.
  • The Centre has only rejected 4.3% of all Right to Information (RTI) requests in 2019-20, the lowest ever rate.
  • However, almost 40% of these rejections did not include any valid reason, as they did not invoke one of the permissible exemption clauses in the RTI Act.
    • This includes 90% of rejections by the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • In 38.7% of rejections in 2019-20, public authorities failed to cite permissible exemption clauses, and were classified under the ‘Others’ category in the CIC data. This is an increase from the 33% seen the previous year.

RTI Act:

  • The Right To Information Act is one of the most important acts which empowers ordinary citizens to question the government and its working.
    • This has been widely used by citizens and media to uncover corruption, progress in government work, expenses related information, etc.
  • The RTI Act allows public authorities to reject RTI requests on a number of grounds, ranging from information that would endanger life and safety to that which involves irrelevant personal information, Cabinet papers, foreign governments, copyrights, or sovereignty, security and intelligence matters.
  • Public authorities are expected to cite the relevant clause of the Act to invoke the exemption.

‘Move health to Concurrent list’

Context:

Fifteenth Finance Commission’s Chairman’s address at the NATHEALTH summit.

Suggestions:

Healthcare to be shifted to Concurrent List:

  • Chairman of the Fifteenth Finance Commission, N.K. Singh asserted that Health should be shifted to the Concurrent list under the Constitution.
    • He opined that bringing health into the Concurrent list would give the Centre greater flexibility to enact regulatory changes and reinforce the obligation of all stakeholders towards providing better healthcare.

Set up developmental finance institution (DFI) dedicated to healthcare:

  • He suggested that a DFI dedicated to healthcare investments be set up.
    • DFI would increase healthcare access in tier-2 and tier-3 cities and also come in with technical assistance that ensures proper usage of funds, he said.

Enhance government spending on health:

  • He made a case for increasing the government’s spending on health to 2.5% of GDP by 2025.
  • He said primary healthcare should be a fundamental commitment of all States in particular and should be allocated at least two-thirds of such spending.

Universalising healthcare insurance:

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  • He emphasised the importance of universalising healthcare insurance as a large section of the society still remained uncovered.
    • While the PMJAY covers the bottom two income quintiles, commercial insurance largely covers the top-income quintile, thereby creating a missing middle class.
    • This refers to people in the middle two income quintiles, where the population is not rich enough to afford commercial insurance and not poor enough to be covered under government-sponsored health insurance schemes.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Japan to fund A&N, metro expansion

Context:

In the first-ever official development assistance (ODA) project in Andaman & Nicobar (A&N), Japan has approved grant aid worth Rs 265 crore, to improve the power supply in the islands.

Details:

  • This is the first-ever ODA project in the strategic islands of Andaman & Nicobar (apart from humanitarian emergency assistance).
  • While approving the grant, Japan stressed the strategic geopolitical location of the islands for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
    • India is key to the Quad and the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Cooperation between Japan and India on these crucial islands demonstrate the commitment of both countries to realising a stable, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
  • The grant would be used to procure 15MWh batteries as well as power system stabilisers to allow better utilisation of solar power generated in South Andaman.

Note:

  • Japan has also extended yen loans worth Rs 16,186 crore, for executing four projects, including Delhi Metro’s Phase 4 and Bengaluru Metro’s Phase 2 expansion plans.
  • Loan agreements have been signed between the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the government.
  • A loan of Rs 807 crore was extended for crop diversification in Himachal Pradesh and Rs 3,272 crore in loans to rural water supply with a focus on mitigating fluorosis in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu and Barmer districts.

Eritrea will pull out troops from Tigray: Ethiopian PM

Context:

Eritrea will pull its troops out of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.

Background:

  • Abiy sent troops into Tigray in November 2020 after accusing the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of attacks on Army camps.
    • TPLF was previously a dominant ruling party in the region.

Details:

  • The recent announcement is a potential breakthrough in a drawn-out conflict that has seen atrocities carried out against civilians.
  • It comes as Mr. Abiy (winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize) faces mounting pressure to end fighting.
    • Both Eritrean and Ethiopian troops stand accused of abuses, including mass killings and rapes.

Note:

  • Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war beginning in 1998.
  • The war left tens of thousands dead and resulted in a two-decade stalemate.
  • Abiy won his Nobel in large part for initiating a rapprochement with Mr. Afwerki after taking office in 2018, but Eritrea and the TPLF remained bitter enemies.
    • Isaias Afwerki is an Eritrean politician who has been the first and current President of Eritrea since the country’s independence in 1993.

MISCELLANEOUS

Suez Canal blocked, India eyes Cape of Good Hope

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.

  • More than 200 vessels are waiting on the North and South sides of the Suez Canal and about 60 vessels are joining this queue daily.
  • $200 billion of India’s trade flows with Europe, North America and South America are at risk due to the blockage of the Suez Canal.
  • The Department of Commerce has worked out an action plan to cope with the crisis, including possibly re-routing shipments through the Cape of Good Hope.
    • Export promotion agencies have been asked to identify cargo with perishable items that need priority movement.
    • They have been advised to explore the option of re-routing ships via the Cape of Good Hope.

India, Pak. hold brigade commander-level meet

What’s in News?

A brigade commander-level meeting between the Indian and the Pakistani armies was held in J&K’s Poonch district.

  • The meeting comes amid a complete peace maintained by the two armies along the Line of Control (LoC).
  • It is the first such meet since the joint statement by the two countries reaffirming their commitment to abide by the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

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