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History Foundation 2022 (Batch - 6): Batch will be started from 10th December, 2021
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IAS Foundation 2023-24: New Batch will be started from 14th December, 2021

ThinkQ: Perspective On Current Affairs

Think Q, is a brainstorming program, which enables aspirants to get aware with the important daily Current Affairs topics. It will help to analyze current affairs in different perspectives.

Think Q - 6th December 2021
Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021

Recently, the Lok Sabha has passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021

  • The Bill seeks to provide for the regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technology services in the country.
  • The Bill defines ART to include all techniques that seek to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte (immature egg cell) outside the human body and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman.
  • Examples of ART services include gamete (sperm or oocyte) donation, in-vitro-fertilisation (fertilising an egg in the lab), and gestational surrogacy (the child is not biologically related to surrogate mother).
  • ART services will be provided through: (i) ART clinics, which offer ART related treatments and procedures, and (ii) ART banks, which store and supply gametes.
  • The Bill provides that every ART clinic and bank must be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India. The National Registry will be established under the Bill and will act as a central database with details of all ART clinics and banks in the country.  State governments will appoint registration authorities for facilitating the registration process.
  • ART procedures can only be carried out with the written informed consent of both the party seeking ART services as well as the donor. The party seeking ART services will be required to provide insurance coverage in the favour of the oocyte donor (for any loss, damage, or death of the donor).
  • A child born through ART will be deemed to be a biological child of the commissioning couple and will be entitled to the rights and privileges available to a natural child of the commissioning couple. A donor will not have any parental rights over the child.
  • The Bill provides that the National and State Boards for Surrogacy constituted under the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 will act as the National and State Board respectively for the regulation of ART services.
  • Offences under the Bill include: (i) abandoning, or exploiting children born through ART, (ii) selling, purchasing, trading, or importing human embryos or gametes, (iii) using intermediates to obtain donors, (iv) exploiting commissioning couple, woman, or the gamete donor in any form, and (v) transferring the human embryo into a male or an animal.
  • No court will take cognizance of offences under the Bill, except on a complaint made by the National or State Board or any officer authorized by the Boards.
India joined the G20 ‘Troika’

Recently, India joined the G20 ‘Troika’ and with this India has started the procedure for taking over the G20 presidency next year.

As a Troika member, India will work closely with Indonesia and Italy to ensure consistency and continuity of the G20’s agenda.

India will assume the G20 presidency on 1st December 2022 from Indonesia, and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit for the first time in India in 2023.

G20

  • The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation.
  • It gathers leaders of the largest economies of the world to discuss financial and socioeconomic issues.
  • Collectively, G20 members represent around 80% of the world’s economic output, two-thirds of global population and three-quarters of international trade.
  • Originated in 1999 at the level of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, the G20 gathered for high-level discussions on macro-financial issues. In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, the G20 was elevated to include the leaders of member countries. The first G20 Leaders’ Summit took place in Washington D.C. in November 2008. Consequently, the G20 agenda expanded beyond macro-financial issues, to include socio-economic and development issues.
  • The G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico,  ?Republic of Korea,?Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, ???Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU)?.
  • It does not have a permanent secretariat or Headquarters.
NITI Aayog conducts national workshop on Natural Farming

Recently, NITI Aayog has conducted a national workshop on Natural Farming.

An exclusive website on natural farming developed by NITI Aayog was also launched. The website covers information regarding natural farming including coverage of the practice in India, various schemes and initiatives by Central and State Governments, success stories from farmers and relevant publications among others.

Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZNBF)

  • Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, which has spread to various states in India.
  • It has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved; with efforts of SubhashPalekar and farmers’ associations. 
  • Zero Budget farming promises to end a reliance on loans and drastically cut production costs, ending the debt cycle for desperate farmers. 
  • The “four wheels” of ZBNF are:
    • Jiwamrutha: a fermented microbial culture of cow dung and urine (of desi breeds), jaggery, pulses flour, water and soil from the farm bund which acts as a catalytic agent to promote the activity of micro-organisms.
    • Bijamrita: a mix of cow dung and urine, water, bund soil and lime that is used as a seed treatment solution prior to sowing.
    • Mulching: practice of covering soil with a layer of dried straw or fallen leaves to conserve soil moisture.
    • Waaphasa: providing water to maintain the required moisture-air balance.
  • The ZBNF method also promotes soil aeration, minimal watering, intercropping, bunds and topsoil and discourages intensive irrigation and deep ploughing.
Neutrinos detected produced by Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

For the first time ever, researchers have recently detected neutrino candidates produced by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN facility near Geneva, Switzerland.

Neutrino

  • Some fundamental particles called quarks and leptons, that are indivisible make up the universe.
  • Protons and neutrons are types of quarks, while electrons are types of leptons.
  • Neutrinos are also a type of fundamental particle that belong to the family of particles called leptons.
  • They are of three types: electron-neutrino, muon-neutrino, and tau-neutrino.
  • Neutrinos and anti-neutrinos both are neutral particles, with very little or no mass.
  • Neutrinos interact only very weakly with matter; they can even penetrate the earth without being absorbed. It is for this reason that their detection is extremely difficult and their presence went unnoticed for long.
  • Neutrinos are the second most abundant particles in the universe after photons.
  • Natural sources of neutrinos include the radioactive decay of primordial elements within the earth, radioactivity in the sun, cosmic interactions in the atmosphere and others.
World Migration Report

The World Migration Report, 2022 was recently released by the International organization for Migration (IOM), the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration ensuring the orderly and humane management of migration.

About World Migration Report

  • Since 2000, International organization for Migration (IOM) has been producing world migration reports. The World Migration Report 2022, the eleventh in the world migration report series, has been produced to contribute to an increased understanding of migration throughout the world.
  • Key findings are:
    • The vast majority of people continue to live in the countries in which they were born —only one in 30 are migrants. The current global estimate is that there were around 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020, which equates to 3.6 per cent of the global population.
    • Europe and Asia each hosted around 87 and 86 million international migrants, respectively – comprising 61% of the global international migrant stock.
    • In 2020, India, China, Mexico, the Philippines and Egypt were (in descending order) the top five remittance recipient countries, although India and China were well above the rest, with total inward remittances exceeding $83 billion and $59 billion, respectively.
    • For decades, the United States has consistently been the top remittance-sending country, with a total outflow of $68 billion in 2020, followed by the United Arab Emirates ($43.2 billion), Saudi Arabia ($34.6 billion), Switzerland ($27.96 billion), and Germany ($22 billion).
    • COVID-19-related immobility has become the “great disrupter” of migration.
    • Number of internally displaced persons rose to 55 million in 2020 from 21 million in 2000.
Think Q - 4th December 2021
MHA updates about renunciation of Indian citizenship

The Ministry of Home Affairs recently informed the Lok Sabha that more than six lakh Indians renounced citizenship in the past five years. The reason for a large number of Indians surrendering their citizenship was not stated in the reply.

About Loss of Citizenship

The Citizenship Act, 1955, prescribes three ways of losing citizenship whether acquired under the Act or prior to it under the Constitution, viz, renunciation, termination and deprivation.

  • By Renunciation: Any citizen of India of full age and capacity can make a declaration renouncing his Indian citizenship. Upon the registration of that declaration, that person ceases to be a citizen of India. However, if such a declaration is made during a war in which India is engaged, its registration shall be withheld by the Central Government. Further, when a person renounces his Indian citizenship, every minor child of that person also loses Indian citizenship. However, when such a child attains the age of eighteen, he may resume Indian citizenship.
  • By Termination: When an Indian citizen voluntarily (consciously, knowingly and without duress, undue influence or compulsion) acquires the citizenship of another country, his Indian citizenship automatically terminates. This provision, however, does not apply during a war in which India is engaged.
  • By Deprivation: It is a compulsory termination of Indian citizenship by the Central government, if:
    • The citizen has obtained the citizenship by fraud:
    • The citizen has shown disloyalty to the Constitution of India:
    • The citizen has unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy during a war;
    • The citizen has, within five years after registration or naturalisation, been imprisoned in any country for two years; and
    • The citizen has been ordinarily resident out of India for seven years continuously.
RBI proposes amendments to RBI Act to launch CBDC

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently proposed amendments to the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, which would enable it to launch a CBDC.

RBI is also working out a phased implementation strategy for the introduction of Central Bank Digital Currency with little or no disruption.

About Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC)

  • A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is the digital form of a central bank’s fiat currency that is also a claim on the central bank.
  • Instead of printing money, the central bank issues electronic coins backed by the full faith and credit of the government.
  • It is assumed that it will be safe, efficient and hold constant value (rather than fluctuating in value like private cryptocurrencies).
  • In contrast to cryptocurrencies, a central bank digital currency would be centrally controlled (even if it was on a distributed database), and therefore, a blockchain or other distributed ledger would likely not be required or useful.
  • Advantages of CBDC:
    • Practically costless medium of exchange
    • Secure storage of value useful for investment
    • Gradual obsolescence of paper currency
    • True price stability
Deal on FTA between India and UK to be delayed

Negotiations between India and the U.K. on a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) could be delayed to January 2022. Cabinet change in Britain and need for more “pre-negotiation” talks cited as main reasons.

About Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

  • FTAs are arrangements between two or more countries or trading blocs that primarily agree to reduce or eliminate customs tariff and non-tariff barriers on substantial trade between them.
  • FTAs, normally cover trade in goods (such as agricultural  or  industrial  products)  or  trade  in  services  (such  as  banking,  construction, trading  etc.).
  • Such agreements also cover other areas such as intellectual property rights (IPRs), investment, government procurement and competition policy, etc.
India Young Water Professional Programme

Ministry of Jal Shakti recently launched the first edition of the India Young Water Professional Programme (IYWPP).

About India Young Water Professional Programme

  • This program has been taken up under National Hydrology Project, a Central Scheme of DOWR, and RD & GR and supported by the Australian Water Partnership.
  • This Program is unique and different from typical capacity building and training programs. It is focused on Engaged Training and Learning Model.
  • About 70% of the program is focused on project-based learning through Situation Understanding and Improvement Projects.
  • The Program focuses on gender equality and diversity because sustainable water management can only benefit from the views and skills of all members of society.
India demand for IPR for COVID-19 vaccines

India recently demanded for an intellectual property rights waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and supplies at a World Trade Organization (WTO).

About IPR Issues in India

  • India is a member of the World Trade Organisation and the legislations like Patents Act 1970, Trademarks Act 1999, Indian Copyrights Act, 1957, Design Act 2000, The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 etc. are all in compliance with the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS Agreement).
  • India is also a member of World Intellectual Property Organization, a body responsible for the promotion of the protection of intellectual property rights throughout the world and WIPO-administered International Treaties and Conventions relating to IPRs.
  • India also adopted The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy in 2016 to guide future development of IPRs in the country.
    • Department of Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, has been appointed as the nodal department to coordinate, guide and oversee the implementation and future development of IPRs in India.
    •  The ‘Cell for IPR Promotion & Management (CIPAM)’, setup under the aegis of DPIIT, is to be the single point of reference for implementation of the objectives of the National IPR Policy.
  • India continues to remain on the United States Trade Representative's (USTR’s) ‘Priority Watch List’ for alleged violations of intellectual property rights (IPR).
  • Compulsory Licensing (permitted under the WTO’s TRIPS (IPR) Agreement) is the grant of permission by the government to entities to use, manufacture, import or sell a patented invention without the patent-owner’s consent. Patents Act in India deals with CL. It has been a worry for foreign investors who bring technology as they are concerned about the misuse of CL to replicate their products.
Think Q - 3rd December 2021
Zero Defect Zero Effect Scheme

According to the recent data, as many as 23,948 Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) had registered with intent to adopt the principle of the Zero Defect Zero Effect Scheme (ZED).

  • Launched in 2016 by the Ministry of MSME, the scheme is an integrated and comprehensive certification system.
Groundwater depletion happening at a faster rate: Study

Recently, an analysis of water level data done by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) indicates that about 33% of the wells monitored have registered decline in ground water levels in the range of 0 – 2 metres.

Moreover, a decline of more than 4.0 m has also been observed in a few pockets of metro cities like New Delhi, Chennai, Indore, Madurai, Vijayawada, Ghaziabad, Kanpur, and Lucknow, etc.

Central Ground Water Authority

  • Central Ground Water Authority has been constituted under Section 3 (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to regulate and control development and management of ground water resources in the country.
  • The functions of CGWA are:
    • Exercise of powers under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for issuing directions and taking such measures in respect of all the matters referred to in sub-section(2) of section 3 of the said Act.
    • To resort to penal provisions contained in sections 15 to 21 of the said Act.
    • To regulate and control, management and development of ground water in the country and to issue necessary regulatory directions for the purpose.
    • Exercise of powers under section 4 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for the appointment of officers.
Suspension of MPs for alleges unruly conduct

Recently, 12 Opposition MPs have been suspended for the rest of the Winter Session. The members were suspended for alleged unruly conduct towards the end of the monsoon session in August.

About Suspension of MPs form Parliament

  • The Lok Sabha rulebook specifies that MPs are required to adhere to certain rules of parliamentary etiquette. These rules were updated in 1989.
  • MPs cannot interrupt the speech of others, maintain silence and not obstruct proceedings by hissing or making running commentaries during debates.
  • Members should not shout slogans, display placards, tear up documents in protest and play a cassette or a tape recorder in the House. 
  • Rajya Sabha too has similar rules. To conduct the proceedings smoothly, the rulebook gives certain, similar powers to the presiding officers of both Houses.
Gerrymandering & US democracy

Recently, the 2020 census results of the US population were presented. Following this, the exercise of Gerrymandering has been conducted across the U.S. Congressional and State legislative districts every decade.

About Gerrymandering

  • Gerrymanderingor redistricting is a practice intended to establish an arguably unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts.
  • The term is derived from the name of Gov. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, whose administration enacted a law in 1812 defining new state senatorial districts.
  • The principle behind redistricting is to ensure that the election of public officials embodies the ideal of genuine democratic representation, by factoring in changes in the geographic distribution of population.

Criticism of the Exercise

  • This exercise has been criticized for undermining democracy in the US.
  • A basic objection to gerrymandering of any kind is that it tends to violate two tenets of electoral apportionment—compactness and equality of size of constituencies.
  • In the US, there is a specific long term demographic trend wherein the supporters of Democratic Party relatively belong to urban areas, and that of Republican Party come from rural areas.
  • However, the density of people living in urban areas in the US is more than rural areas.
  • In this scenario, the Republican Party has Gerrymandered electoral districts to create supermajorities of rural voters.
  • In this way, giving one political party an unfair advantage over its rivals or that dilutes the voting power of members of ethnic or linguistic minority groups.
National Mission on Cultural Mapping

Minister of Culture, Tourism and Development of NorthEastern Region recently informed the Parliament that NMCM has mapped the data of 14.53 lakh artists/artisans.

About National Mission on Cultural Mapping

  • National Mission on Cultural Mapping (NMCM) was set up by the Ministry of Culture in 2017.
  • Objective:
    • To build a comprehensive database of artists, art forms and other resources from organisations.
    • To address the necessities of preserving the threads of rich Indian Art and Cultural Heritage, converting vast and widespread cultural canvas of India into an objective Cultural Mapping while creating a strong “Cultural Vibrancy” throughout the nation.
  • It encompasses data mapping, demography building, formalizing the processes and bringing all cultural activities under one umbrella for better results.
  • The work on creating a database for folk arts and mapping of heritage of villages would be carried out over five years (From 2017).
  • Under this Mission, at broad-level, there are three important objectives as follows:
    • National Cultural Awareness Abhiyan (Hamari Sanskriti Hamari Pahchan Abhiyan OR Our Culture Our Identity)
    • Nationwide Artist Talent Hunt/Scouting Programme (Sanskritik Pratibha Khoj Abhiyan)
    • National Cultural Workplace: Centralized Transactional Web Portal with database and demography of cultural assets and resources including all art forms and artists.
Think Q - 2nd December 2021
SAFAR System: Delhi Air in trouble again

Recently, SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecast and Research) has studied post Diwali Air Pollution in the four Indian Cities (Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Pune).

  • Air pollution during the Diwali period in 2021 was higher compared to 2020 in the three metropolitan cities of Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai, whereas Pune was the only city among the four which had lower pollution levels.
  • High PM in Delhi during the Diwali period is due to high local emissions, combined with the biomass burning effect.
  • The system is indigenouslydeveloped by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and is operationalized by the India Meteorological Department.  
UNCITRAL Model for Cross Border Insolvency

Recently, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has published a draft framework for cross border insolvency proceedings based on the UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) model under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

  • The UNCITRAL model is the most widely accepted legal framework to deal with cross-border insolvency issues.
  • It has been adopted by 49 countries, including the UK, the US, South Africa, South Korea and Singapore.
  • The law allows automatic recognition of foreign proceedings and rulings given by courts in cases where the foreign jurisdiction is adjudged.
  • Recognition of foreign proceedings and reliefs is left to the discretion of domestic courts when foreign proceedings are non-main proceedings.
Police Commissionarate System

Recently, Prime Minister Modi, during the 56th DGPs and IGPs conference reinforced the need to adopt the commissionerate system in cities with a population of over 10 lakh.

  • The system gives more responsibilities, including magisterial powers, to IPS officers of Inspector General of Police (IG) rank posted as commissioners.
  • Under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, ‘Police’ is under the State list, meaning individual states typically legislate and exercise control over this subject.
  • In the arrangement in force at the district level, a ‘dual system’ of control exists, in which the Superintendent of Police (SP) has to work with the District Magistrate (DM) for supervising police administration.
Human Immune System and Immune Memory

A recent study found that the vaccine generates antibodies and easily detectable memory B cell and T cell responses in many recipients.

  • Most vaccinated persons have cellular immunological responses in the form of memory B cells and memory T cells, indicating that the immune system can respond quickly.
  • huge number of adults are exposed to four different coronavirus that cause common cold and studies have shown that 20-50% of healthy people display SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cells.
  • Measuring pre-existing immunity and correlating it with infection and severity of disease is the only way to find out its role in protection against SARS-CoV-2.
PROJECT SWADESH: Application of Big Data Analytics

Recently, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT)-National Brain Research Centre (DBT-NBRC) has developed Project SWADESH, for managing Neurological disorders.

  • It is the first large-scale multimodal neuroimaging database designed specifically for the Indian population with big-data architecture and analytics for various disease categories under one platform.
  • It is supported by JAVA-based workflow environments and Python. Backed by a dedicated storage system, it provides quality control, data analysis reports, and data backups.
  • It proposes a big-data architecture that manages and analyzes six modules, namely neurodegenrative  [AD, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and Parkinsons Disease (PD)], neuropsychiatric (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), neurodevelopmental (autism and epilepsy), Covid 19 -related disorders, other disorders, and healthy subjects.
Think Q - 1st December 2021
First-ever National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)

Recently, NITI Aayog has published the first-ever National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of India.

About National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)

  • It is prepared by the Government think-tank NITI Aayog to measure poverty across its multiple dimensions and in effect complements existing poverty statistics based on per capita consumption expenditure.
  • India’s national MPI measure uses the globally accepted and robust methodology developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which publishes the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index.
  • India’s national MPI captures multiple and simultaneous deprivations faced by households across the three macro dimensions of health, education and living standards.
  • The National MPI Project is aimed at deconstructing the Global MPI and creating a globally aligned and yet customised India MPI for drawing up comprehensive Reform Action Plans with the larger goal of improving India’s position in the Global MPI rankings.
  • Key findings are:
    • Among States:
      • Bihar has the highest proportion of people who are multidimensionally poor, followed by Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.
      • Kerala, Goa, and Sikkim have the lowest percentage of the population being multidimensionally poor.
    • Among Union Territories (UTs):
      • Dadra and Nagar Haveli (27.36 per cent), Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh (12.58), Daman & Diu (6.82 per cent) and Chandigarh (5.97 per cent), have emerged as the poorest UTs in India.
      • The proportion of poor in Puducherry at 1.72 percent is the lowest among the Union Territories, followed by Lakshadweep at 1.82 per cent, Andaman & Nicobar Islands at 4.30 per cent and Delhi at 4.79 per cent.
    • Estimates of national MPI headcount ratio and intensity have been furnished not only for the States and Union Territories but also for all the districts, which is a unique feature of this report. This will not only enable the analysis of comparative and relative performance among States and UTs but also among the districts of a State.
WHO Classification of COVID-19 Variants

The World Health Organization declared the recently-discovered B.1.1.529 strain of COVID-19 to be a variant of concern and renamed it Omicron based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology.

About WHO Classification of COVID-19 Variants

  • All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time. Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties. However, some changes may affect the virus’s properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures.
  • A mutation means a change in the genetic sequence of the virus.
  • In the case of SARS-CoV-2, which is an RNA virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged. A mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.
  • Only if the mutation results in a significant change in the protein structure can the course of a disease be altered.
  • In general mutation rates are higher in most RNA viruses than in DNA viruses.
  • Given the continuous evolution of the virus that leads to SARS-CoV-2 and the constant developments in our understanding of the impacts of variants, these working definitions may be periodically adjusted. When necessary, variants not otherwise meeting all criteria outlined in these definitions may be designated as VOCs/VOIs/VUMs.
    • Variants of Concern (VOC): It is a variant that results in increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; OR increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; OR decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics. The alpha, beta and gamma variant fall under this category.
    • Variants of Interest (VOI): A SARS-CoV-2 variant with genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape; AND identified to cause significant community transmission or multiple COVID-19 clusters, in multiple countries with increasing relative prevalence alongside increasing number of cases over time, or other apparent epidemiological impacts to suggest an emerging risk to global public health. The Lambda variant falls in this category.
    • Variants under Monitoring (VUM): A SARS-CoV-2 variant with genetic changes that are suspected to affect virus characteristics with some indication that it may pose a future risk, but evidence of phenotypic or epidemiological impact is currently unclear, requiring enhanced monitoring and repeat assessment pending new evidence.
Attorney General of India

The Attorney General, recently said that four "courts of appeal" should be constituted to hear appeals from High Courts, tribunals, and other matters which are currently heard by the Supreme Court, adding that it would cut down the pendency of cases to a great extent.

About Attorney General of India

  • The Constitution (Article 76) has provided for the office of the Attorney General for India. He is the highest law officer in the country.
  • The Attorney General (AG) is appointed by the president. He must be a person who is qualified to be appointed a judge of the Supreme Court. In other words, he must be a citizen of India and he must have been a judge of some high court for five years or an advocate of some high court for ten years or an eminent jurist, in the opinion of the president.
  • The term of office of the AG is not fixed by the Constitution. Further, the Constitution does not contain the procedure and grounds for his removal. He holds office during the pleasure of the president. This means that he may be removed by the president at any time. He may also quit his office by submitting his resignation to the president.
  • As the chief law officer of the Government of India, the duties of the AG include the following:
    • To give advice to the Government of India upon such legal matters, which are referred to him by the president.
    • To perform such other duties of a legal character that are assigned to him by the president.
    • To discharge the functions conferred on him by the Constitution or any other law.
  • The president has assigned the following duties to the AG:
    • To appear on behalf of the Government of India in all cases in the Supreme Court in which the Government of India is concerned.
    • To represent the Government of India in any reference made by the president to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
    • To appear (when required by the Government of India) in any high court in any case in which the Government of India is concerned.
  • In the performance of his official duties, the Attorney General has the right of audience in all courts in the territory of India. Further, he has the right to speak and to take part in the proceedings of both the Houses of Parliament or their joint sitting and any committee of the Parliament of which he may be named a member, but without a right to vote. He enjoys all the privileges and immunities that are available to a Member of Parliament.
  • He is not debarred from private legal practice. The AG is not a member of the Central cabinet. There is a separate law minister in the Central cabinet to look after legal matters at the government level. 
Industrial Corridors

Minister of Commerce and Industry recently said that four greenfield industrial cities or nodes are being developed in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh under the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).

About Industrial Corridors

  • An industrial corridor is basically a corridor comprising of multi-modal transport services that would pass through the states as main artery.
  • The different sectors of an economy are inter-dependent on each other. Industrial corridors, recognizing this inter-dependence, offer effective integration between industry and infrastructure, leading to overall economic and social development.
  • Industrial corridors constitute world-class infrastructure such as: High-speed transportation network – rail and road; Ports with state-of-the-art cargo handling equipment; Modern airports; Special economic regions/industrial areas; Logistic parks/trans-shipment hubs; Knowledge parks focused on catering to industrial needs; Complementary infrastructure such as townships/real estate and other urban infrastructure along with enabling policy framework.
  • Government of India is developing various Industrial Corridor Projects as part of National Industrial Corridor Programme which is aimed at development of Greenfield industrial cities in India in order to compete with the best manufacturing and investment destinations in the world.
  • National Industrial Corridor Development & Implementation Trust (NICDIT) has been constituted for unified development of Industrial Corridors in the country.
  • Government of India has accorded approval for development of 11 Corridors (32 projects) in four Phases by 2024-2025 as part of National Master Plan for providing multimodal connectivity to economic zones.
  • The Industrial Corridors program is aimed at providing multi modal connectivity with complete “plug and play” infrastructure till the plot level along with building resilient and sustainable future ready cities. The development of these corridors is aimed to expand the industrial output, increasing employment opportunities, provide better living and social facilities for the new and growing workforce.
Farmers demand legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP)

Recently, farmers are demanding a legal guarantee that all farmers will receive remunerative prices for all their crops. Farm unions are demanding that a comprehensive cost calculation (C2) must also include capital assets and the rentals and interest forgone on owned land as recommended by the National Commission for Farmers.

About Minimum Support Price (MSP)

  • MSP for major agricultural products are fixed by the government, each year, after taking into account the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP).
  • CACP is an attached office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India. It came into existence in January 1965.
  • It is mandated to recommend minimum support prices (MSPs) to incentivize the cultivators to adopt modern technology, and raise productivity and overall grain production in line with the emerging demand patterns in the country.
  • As of now, CACP recommends MSPs of 23 commodities, which comprise 7 cereals (paddy, wheat, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, barley and ragi), 5 pulses (gram, tur, moong, urad, lentil), 7 oilseeds (groundnut, rapeseed-mustard, soyabean, seasmum, sunflower, safflower, nigerseed), and 4 commercial crops (copra, sugarcane, cotton and raw jute).
  • While recommending price policy of various commodities under its mandate, the Commission keeps in mind the various Terms of Reference given to CACP in 2009. Accordingly, it analyzes
    • Demand and supply
    • Cost of production
    • Price trends in the market, both domestic and international
    • Inter-crop price parity
    • Terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture
    • A minimum of 50 percent as the margin over cost of production
    • Likely implications of MSP on consumers of that product
  • There is currently no statutory backing for these prices, nor any law mandating their enforcement. The government only procures about a third of wheat and rice crops at MSP rates (of which half is bought in Punjab and Haryana alone), and 10%-20% of select pulses and oilseeds.
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