Daily Current Affairs : 23rd and 24th November 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Amendment to the Kerala Police Act, 2011
  2. Arogya Sanjeevani
  3. SITMEX-20 
  4. deep sea mission
  5. Sentinel 6 Satellite
  6. Roshni Act
  7. Facts for Prelims

1 . Amendment to the Kerala Police Act, 2011


Context : Due to widespread criticism, the Kerala government shied away from enacting a controversial ordinance that sought to empower the police to prosecute persons who disseminated information that the law enforcement deemed defamatory.

Background

  • An ordinance was issued for drastic amendment to the Kerala Police Act, 2011, to give the local law enforcement more teeth to curb defamation has led to an uproar with opposition parties, journalist bodies and civil rights activists seeing a threat to the freedom of the press and free speech in Kerala.

Key Provisions of the Ordinance

  • Ordinance will give the police more power to prosecute persons who exploit various communication platforms to slander fellow citizens. The ordinance has introduced a new provision, Section 118-A, to the Act.
  • The amendment proposes three years of imprisonment and a fine of upto ₹10,000 for those convicted of producing, publishing or disseminating derogatory content through any means of communication to intimidate, insult or defame any person.
  • Amendment grants the police untrammelled authority to examine published and broadcast content and register cases even in the absence of a specific complaint. The new law has rendered defamation a cognisable offence.

Issues with the Act

  • The amendment had resurrected the “same legal vices” the Supreme Court had “trashed” by scrapping Section 66 A of the IT Act.
  • “Conferring power on the police to gauge mental injury, loss of reputation and such matters due to dissemination of information would result in widespread abuse. The amendment could curtail the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution”, he said.

About Section 66 A

  • Section 66A of the IT Act defines the punishment for sending “offensive” messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet. A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine.

Why SC struck down Section 66 A

  • The judgment had found that Section 66A was contrary to both Articles 19 (free speech) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution. The entire provision was struck down by the court.
  • Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution guarantees to citizens a right to freedom of speech and expression. The immediately succeeding clause, Article 19(2), however limits this right in allowing the state the power to impose by law reasonable restrictions in the interests, among other things, of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, decency or morality, defamation, or incitement to an offence. According to the petitioners in Shreya Singhal, none of these grounds contained in Article 19(2) were capable of being invoked as legitimate defences to the validity of Section 66A of the IT Act.
  • They also argued that the provisions of Section 66A were contrary to basic tenets of a valid criminal law in that they were too vague and incapable of precise definition, amounting therefore to a most insidious form of censorship. Further, in the petitioners’ argument, Section 66A produced a chilling effect that forced people to expurgate their speech and expressions of any form of dissent, howsoever innocuous.
  • The Supreme Court agreed with the petitioners on each of these arguments. According to the court, none of the grounds, which the state sought to invoke in defending the law, in this case, public order, defamation, incitement to an offence and decency or morality, each of which is contained in Article 19(2), was capable of being justifiably applied. “Any law seeking to impose a restriction on the freedom of speech can only pass muster,” wrote Justice Nariman, “if it is proximately related to any of the eight subject matters set out in Article 19(2).”

2 . Arogya Sanjeevani


Context : Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority recently designed a new insurance scheme known as Arogya Sanjeevani

About Arogya Sanjeevani

  • The standardised health insurance policy — Arogya Sanjeevani — was designed by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority
  • Every general insurance or health insurance company is mandated to offer it from April 1, 2020.
  • It offers instalment payment of premium, as opposed to only annual payments.
  • In Arogya Sanjeevani, the policyholder can opt for half-yearly, quarterly or monthly payment of premium and also automate the payments using the auto-debit or ECS mode.
  • Options for instalment premiums in Arogya Sanjeevani operate with some conditions, similar to annual premium payments we are familiar with. There is a grace period of 15 days for paying the instalment premium. The caveat, however, is that during the period between due date of premium and actual receipt of premium by the insurance company, you will be uncovered.
  • Even if you have used your grace period to the fullest, your benefits of waiting period for pre-existing conditions, and specific waiting period for treatment of specified conditions are fully protected. Neither will there be any interest charges if the instalment premium is not paid on the due date.
  • However, if you fail to pay within the grace period, your policy will lapse and, along with it, any accrued benefits such as waiting period or cumulative bonuses. Your choice will be only to start another hospitalisation policy, afresh.

3 . SITMEX-20 


Context : Trilateral Naval exercise SITMEX-20 concluded in the Andaman Sea

About SITMEX 20 & SIMBEX 20

  • SITMEX-20 is the second edition of the India, Thailand and Singapore trilateral Naval exercise
  • 27th edition of India-Singapore Bilateral Maritime Exercise is called as SIMBEX-20. It is scheduled to be held in the same area from November 23 to 25.
  • “The exercise, being conducted as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ exercise in view of COVID-19 pandemic, highlights growing synergy, coordination and cooperation in the maritime domain between the three friendly navies and maritime neighbours
  • The Indian Navy deployed indigenous Anti-Submarine Warfare corvette INS Kamorta and missile corvette INS Karmuk for the exercise hosted by the Singapore Navy
  • The first edition was hosted by the Indian Navy and was held off Port Blair in September last year. Besides improving inter-operability between the friendly navies, SITMEX series of exercise also aim to strengthen mutual confidence and develop common understanding and procedures towards enhancing the overall maritime security in the region, the statement added.
  • For SIMBEX, the Indian Navy is deploying destroyer INS Rana with its integral Chetak helicopter in addition to INS Kamorta and INS Karmuk which are already in the area. In addition, submarine INS Sindhuraj and P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft will also participate in the exercise, 

4 . Deep Sea Mission


Context : India will soon launch an ambitious ‘Deep Ocean Mission’

About Deep Ocean Mission

  • Deep Ocean Mission envisages exploration of minerals, energy and marine diversity of the underwater world, a vast part of which still remains unexplored
  • The mission, which is expected to cost over ₹4,000 crore, will give a boost to efforts to explore India’s vast Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf
  • Mission will also involve developing technologies for different deep ocean initiatives.
  • The multi-disciplinary work will be piloted by the MoES and other government departments like the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will be stakeholders in this mission
  • Some of the technologies involved will be developed by organisations such as the ISRO and DRDO.
  • One of the main aspects of the mission will be design, development and demonstration of human submersibles
  • Another aspect is exploring the possibility of deep sea mining and developing necessary technologies, the official added.

Importance

  • The move strategically significant as it will enhance India’s presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active.

India’s area of exploration

  • India has been ear-marked nearly 1.5 lakh square kilometres of area in the central Indian Ocean for exploration by International Sea Bed Authority
  • In September 2016, India signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS) in the Indian Ocean.
  • The 15-year contract formalised India’s exclusive rights for exploration of PMS in the allotted area in the Indian Ocean.
  • The ISA earlier approved 10,000 sq. km for India with a 15-year PMS exploration plan along the Central Indian Ridge (CIR) and Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR) region of the Indian Ocean.

About Poly – metallic Sulphides

  • Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS), which contain iron, copper, zinc, silver, gold, platinum in variable constitutions, are precipitates of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from deep interior of the oceanic crust, discharged through mineralized chimneys.
  • PMS in the Ocean Ridges have attracted worldwide attention for their long term commercial as well as strategic values.

About International Sea Bed Authority

  • The International Seabed Authority is an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • It is established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, an area underlying most of the world’s oceans. It is an organization established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • The Authority is headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica
  • The exploitation system envisaged in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is overseen by the Authority,
  • A 15-year contracts was signed with seven organizations that had applied for specific seabed areas in which they were authorized to explore for polymetallic nodules.

5 . Sentinel 6 Satellite


Context : The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, designed to monitor oceans, was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on November 21.

About the mission?

  • The mission, called the Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission, is designed to measure the height of the ocean, which is a key component in understanding how the Earth’s climate is changing.
  • The spacecraft consists of two satellites, one of them recently launched and the other, called Sentinel-6B, to be launched in 2025.
  • It has been developed jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat), the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the EU, with contributions from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). 
  • This is a part of the next mission dedicated to measuring changes in the global sea level. Other satellites that have been launched since 1992 to track changes in the oceans on a global scale include the TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and OSTN/Jason-2, among others.
  • he Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite has been named after Dr. Michael Freilich, who was the Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division from 2006-2019 and passed away in August this year.

What will the satellite do?

  • Satellite will ensure the continuity of sea-level observations into the fourth decade and will provide measurements of global sea-level rise.
  • Since 1992, high-precision satellite altimeters have helped scientists understand how the ocean stores and distributes heat, water and carbon in the climate system.
  • Essentially, the satellite will send pulses to the Earth’s surface and measure how long they take to return to it, which will help scientists measure the sea surface height. It will also measure water vapour along this path and find its position using GPS and ground-based lasers.
  • Further, the data it collects will support operational oceanography, by providing improved forecasts of ocean currents, wind and wave conditions. This data will allow improvements in both short-term forecasting for weather predictions in the two-to-four-week range (hurricane intensity predictions), and long-term forecasting, for instance for seasonal conditions like El Niño and La Niña.

Why is it important to measure the height of the ocean?

  • As per NASA, it is possible to observe the height of the oceans on a global scale and monitor critical changes in ocean currents and heat storage only from space. Data from satellites such as Sentinel-6 help scientists foresee the effects of the changing oceans on the climate.
  • Further, in order to measure and track changes in the oceanic heat budget, scientists need to know the ocean currents and heat storage of the oceans, which can be determined from the height of the sea surface.

6 . Current Account & Taper Tantrum


Context : India is likely to post current account surplus in the current financial year as there is moderation in import due to under heating of the economy triggered by the COVID-19 crisis. According to Chief Economic Adviser K V Subramanian this crisis is different from what the world witnessed during the taper tantrum

About Taper Tantrum

  • Taper tantrum phenomenon refers to the 2013 collective reactionary response that triggered a spike in US treasury yields, after investors learned that the US Fed was slowly putting brakes on its quantitative easing (QE) program.
  • This led to a surge in inflation to high double digits emerging economies.

What is BoP:

  • In a globalized world, no country is self-sufficient. Every country purchases and sells goods and services to another. This includes both public and private transactions. The balance of payments calculates the value of these transactions.
  • Usually, the value of the outflows should be equal to the total inflow of money into the country. However, this is not so because payments are sometimes delayed or paid over a longer term.
  • For this reason, countries can have a deficit or surplus of BoP in the short-term. A deficit is when you owe money to the world, while a surplus is when your cash inflows exceed your outflows.

Types of Accounts

  • Balance of payments comprises of three kinds of accounts – current, capital and financial account.
  • Current Account : The current account calculates the total value of imports and exports of goods and services. The latter is called ‘invisibles’.
  • Capital and financial accounts: Money is also exchanged between countries through investments or other kinds of financial transactions. This is calculated in the capital and financial accounts. An increase in borrowings from outside the country has a negative impact on the capital account, while an increase in foreign investment inflows has a positive impact.
  • The IMF accounting standards of the BOP statement divides international transactions into three accounts: the current account, the capital account, and the financial account, where the current account should be balanced by capital account and financial account transactions. But, in countries like India, the financial account is included in the capital account itself.

7 . Facts for Prelims


Two major bodies dealing with vaccine introduction

  • National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) and the Central Drug Standards and Control Organisation (CDSCO) ]

Chang’e-5 probe

  • Chang’e-5 probe, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, aims to shovel up lunar rocks and soil to help scientists learn about the moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity on its surface.
  • The original mission, planned for 2017, was delayed due to an engine failure in China’s Long March 5 launch rocket.
  • If successful, China will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the moon, following the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The Chinese probe will collect 2 kg of surface material from a previously unexplored area known as Oceanus Procellarum — or “Ocean of Storms” — which consist of a vast lava plain

Abhayam App

  • Andhra Pradesh launched ‘Abhayam’ mobile phone application which helps women and children travelling in taxis and auto-rickshaws, to raise alarm in case of any emergency.
  • Abhayam app would help the women in alerting the police by pressing a panic button in the event of their landing in any trouble.
  • The policemen would be able to reach out to the women in need in just 10 minutes by virtue of the vehicle tracking facility provided by the IoT – based system.
  • The passengers have to scan QR codes displayed on the vehicles to facilitate tracking.

Expert Appraisal Committee

  • Expert appraisal committees (EAC) exist at the Union as well as state levels (state expert appraisal committee or SEAC) to advise the government on environmental clearance of development projects.
  • The Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs) opine on whether a proposed project beyond a certain size ought to be commissioned and recommend ways to mitigate the potential environmental impact. Their advice is critical to the MoEF’s eventual decision to either clear or red flag a project.
  • There are separate EAC committees for industrial projects, coal mining, non-coal mining, river and hydroelectric projects, each with its own independent chairperson and committee members.

Pangda Village

  • It is a new border village built by China.
  • The village is located on territory disputed by China and Bhutan.
  • The area is east of the India-Bhutan-China trijunction on the Doklam plateau

Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies

  • Over 2,000 representatives from 132 countries attended the virtual 4th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies organised by the Interpol, Europol and the Basel Institute on Governance
  • “Representatives from law enforcement and the judiciary, Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), international organisations and the private sector have met virtually to shape international cross-sector solutions against the criminal use of cryptocurrencies
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