9 PM Current Affairs Brief – February 8th, 2020

Explained:Sedition law

News:Recently, a sessions court had rejected the anticipatory bail application of a student booked under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code(IPC).


About Sedition(Section 124A):

  • The concept of sedition was introduced in the penal code in 1870.It was a colonial law directed against strong criticism of the British administration.
  • Section 124A IPC defines sedition as an act that brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India by words, either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise.

Supreme Court Judgements on Sedition:

Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar,1962:

  • The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 124-A (sedition).
  • However,it said that every citizen has a right to say or write about the government by way of criticism or comment as long as it does not incite people to violence against the government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.

Balwant Singh v State of Punjab,1995:

  • The Supreme Court acquitted persons from charges of sedition for shouting slogans such as “Khalistan Zindabad”.
  • The court held that mere raising of slogans by two individuals alone cannot be said to be aimed at exciting or attempt to excite hatred or disaffection by the government.

Ease of Living Index(EoLI) and Municipal Performance Index(MPI)

News:The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has launched two new indices namely Ease of Living Index(EoLI) and Municipal Performance Index(MPI) to assess the quality of life of citizens in cities.


About Ease of Living Index:It is aimed at providing a holistic view of the country’s cities.

Main objectives of the Index:

  • To generate information to guide evidence-based policy making
  • Catalyse action to achieve broader developmental outcomes and assess
  • Compare the outcomes of various urban policies and schemes
  • Obtain the perception of citizens about their view of the services provided by the city administration.

Parameters of the index:

  • The index will assess the ease of living of citizens on three broad parameters namely a) quality of life b) economic ability and c) sustainability which are further divided into 14 categories across 50 indicators.
  • A Citizen Perception Survey is also being conducted which carries 30% of the marks of the Ease of Living Index.
  • The 100 notified smart cities and another 14 cities having a population of over a million will be considered for the assessment.

About Municipal Performance Index(MPI):

  • It aims to assess the performance of municipalities based on five enablers.
  • These five enablers include service, finance, planning, technology and governance.They are further divided into 20 sectors and 100 indicators.

Explained:Why cancer gene map matters

News:Recently,a Pan-Cancer Project involving 1,300 scientists has completed a decade-long project to map the many gene mutations that drive cancer’s development.


About Pan Cancer Project:

  • The project also called Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) is an international collaboration of the International Cancer Genome Consortium and The Cancer Genome Atlas(TCGA).
  • The project revealed the most comprehensive gene map of the genes whose departures from normal behaviour — mutations — trigger a cascade of genetic misbehaviours that eventually lead to cancer.

Key takeaways from the project:

  • It found that on average, people’s cancers contain between four and five fundamental mutations that drive a cancer’s growth.
  • However, around 5% of cancers appeared to have no driver mutations at all showing there is still more work to do.

Additional information:

About International Cancer Genome Consortium:

  • The International Cancer Genome Consortium(ICGC) is a voluntary scientific organization established in 2007.
  • It coordinates a large number of research projects to unravel the genomic changes present in many forms of cancer that contribute to the burden of disease in people throughout the world.

Mutation:It is any change that occurs in the DNA sequence of a cell.It may be caused by mistakes during cell division or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment.

Swadhar Greh Scheme

News:The Minister of Women and Child Development has informed the Lok Sabha about the implementation of the Swadhar Greh Scheme.


About Swadhar Greh Scheme:

  • Launched by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2002.
  • Aim:To provide a supportive institutional framework such as shelter, food clothing for women victims of difficult circumstances so that they could lead their life with dignity and conviction.
  • Beneficiaries:Widows deserted by their families, women prisoners released from jail and without family support, women survivors of natural disasters, women victims of terrorist/extremist violence, trafficked women among others.
  • Implementation agencies:State Government agencies, Central Bodies, NGO’s, Panchayati Raj Institutions, municipal bodies among others.

National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme(NMMSS)

News:Union HRD minister has said that the National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme(NMMSS) has helped to reduce the drop-out rate at the secondary and senior secondary classes.


About the Scheme:

  • Aim:To award scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to arrest their drop out at class VIII and encourage them to continue the study at secondary stage.
  • The Scheme was launched in 2008 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development(HRD).

Features of the scheme:

  • Under the Scheme Rs.12000 per annum per student are awarded to selected students of class IX every year and their continuation/renewal  in classes X to XII for study.
  • The selection of students for award of scholarships under the scheme is made through an examination conducted by the States/UTs Governments.
  • The scheme has been on the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) since 2015-16.

Additional information:

About National Scholarship Portal(NSP):

  • It has been developed by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).
  • The portal aims to streamline and fast track the release of Scholarships across Ministries / Departments with efficiency, transparency and reliability.

Dropout rate in Schools:

  • Recently,the Union HRD minister has informed the Lok Sabha that the dropout rate in schools was highest in Assam at both primary and secondary levels.
  • Reasons for dropout include: a) poverty or economic reasons b) poor health c) child too young to be attending school and d) child needed for help in domestic work.

Explained:Who was Kaka Hathrasi,the poet PM Modi quoted in Parliament

News:Recently,the Prime Minister had quoted Poet Kaka Hathrasi during the reply to the Motion of Thanks.


About Kaka Hathrasi:

  • Kaka Hathrasi was born in 1906.He was a Hindi satirist and humorist poet of India.
  • He was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India in the year 1985.
  • Apart from humour,he also wrote on classical dance and music under the pen name ‘Vasant’.
  • Every year, the Delhi-based Hindi Academy awards the annual Kaka Hathrasi Award for outstanding contribution in the literary field.

Explained:Know your ‘unparliamentary’ — What MPs cannot say in the House

News:Recently,the heated exchanges in Parliament have brought back the questions around unparliamentary speech and conduct in the Parliament.


About Parliamentary privileges:

  • Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively so that they can effectively discharge their functions.
  • The Constitution under Article 105 mentions two types of privileges  namely the freedom of speech in Parliament and right of publication of its proceedings.
  • Article 105(2) says that no Member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof.
  • However,whatever an MP says is subject to the discipline of the Rules of Procedure, good sense of Members and the control of proceedings by the Speaker.

Rules of Procedure on Unparliamentary speech:

  • Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business have been formulated under Article 118 of the Constitution wherein each House of Parliament  is required to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business.
  • Rule 380 of the rules says that if the Speaker is of opinion that words used in debate are defamatory or unparliamentary, the Speaker may order that such words be expunged from the proceedings of the House.
  • Rule 381 says that the portion of the proceedings of the House so expunged shall be marked by asterisks and an explanatory footnote shall be inserted in the proceedings as expunged as ordered by the Chair.

Haryana launches Rs 1500 crore Mukhyamantri Parivartan Yojna

News:The Haryana Chief Minister has launched the Mukhyamantri Parivar Samridhi Yojna.


About the scheme:

  • Aim:To provide social security benefits to eligible families of the state through annual financial assistance.
  • Under the scheme,financial assistance of Rs 6000 will be provided to those families in the State whose annual income is upto Rs 1.80 lakh and land holding is less than 5 acres.
  • The money paid under this scheme will be utilised to pay the premiums of various social security and insurance schemes run by the central and state governments.

Army gets upgraded 155mm artillery gun – Sharang

News:The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has handed over Sharang,an artillery gun to the Indian Army.


About Sharang:

  • Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms.
  • Sharang is an indigenously upgraded 155 mm calibre artillery gun.
  • The hitting range of the gun system has also been increased from 12km to 39 km.

Additional information:

About Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)

  • Ordnance Factory Board(OFB) is the oldest and largest industrial setup which functions under the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence.
  • It is engaged in research, development, production, testing, marketing and logistics of a comprehensive product range in the areas of air, land and sea systems.
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